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The US obsession with fake food, explained

The weird case of the viral video of the beautiful yet tasteless watermelon

The US obsession with fake food, explained The weird case of the viral video of the beautiful yet tasteless watermelon

Last month, @kiva_boddy, a typical American mom, posted on TikTok a video highlighting an unusual fact: the watermelon she had bought from her trusted supermarket was "practically" made of rubber. The video quickly went viral - with over 30 million views and more than 3 million likes - sparking controversies and conspiracy theories. It seems that the case of the rubbery watermelon is not an isolated incident; in fact, the clip triggered a domino effect on the Chinese platform, revealing accounts of people surprised to find that their produce purchases were indeed rubbery, from indestructible avocados to silicone blueberries. The trend has reached immense levels of engagement, to the extent of creating genuine conspiracy theorists.

@kiva_boddy It looks so good but tastes so bad Have you had a bendable, rubbery watermelon? #rubberwatermelon #watermelon #badwatermelon original sound - kiva

Many have tried to explain this viral phenomenon. On social media, there have been people proposing bizarre explanations, leading to the birth of some conspiracy theories. Some blame Bill and Melinda Gates, while others follow a nostalgic anti-vax trend. In 2021, the tech mogul described plant-based meat production as "the future," urging wealthy nations to transition from traditional to plant-based meat to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and water use in the beef industry. This led to the social conspiracy of "Gates fake food", worsening in 2023 when the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation invested in Apeel, a Silicon Valley company in food technology. Apeel stirred controversy with its innovative product - a spray that creates an edible peel, retaining moisture and slowing fruit ripening to reduce food waste. Despite no scientific proof that Apeel could be harmful and its main ingredient is natural, American conservatives criticized it on social media, claiming Gates aims to alter the concept of organic food to deceive the masses. Nevertheless, Apeel has nothing to do with the mysterious rubbery watermelons; it was merely used as a scapegoat to somehow blame the Windows founder for everything. The far-right television channel One America News provided a striking example of Gates' ostracism when journalist Alison Steinberg referred to the phenomenon of rubbery fresh products, describing the entrepreneur as a "globalist tyrant who would do anything to stop people from living a healthy life". The clip was reposted multiple times on X and circulated worldwide.

Fortunately, the reality is much simpler. As community notes on X users commented, the mystery surrounding rubbery foods is much less complex and intricate than we expected. The phenomenon simply occurs because these products are either unripe or have been frozen and thawed. In many supermarkets, to keep products fresh, they are stored in industrial refrigerators, but external temperature fluctuations can alter their texture and taste. Unfortunately, no major scandal for watermelons this season, just simple old science.