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What does the Yahoo-Tumblr deal have in common with weird foodie fan art?

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Yahoo’s $1.1 billion dollar acquisition of Tumblr is a big business deal that will have many ramifications, but one of the first was the entrance of the word “Yumblr” into our collective consciousness. The people love a good name mash-up (hence the preponderance of celebrity couple nicknames and the existence of the word “chillax”) and to be fair, “Yumblr” is faster to say than “the Yahoo-Tumblr deal.”

But unfortunately, the fact that the word “Yumblr” is being associated with this buyout means the original use of the term is fading away. And what was the original use? Well, it’s another play off Tumblr: In 2012, foodie animators started tagging posts with “Yumblr.”Screen Shot 2013-05-20 at 12.30.16 PM

The Daily Dot unearthed this fantastical community, which centered around creating animated characters based off their favorite foods. An artist called windycarnage may have pioneered the term – a blog post by another user says “my friend Windy started up something called Yumblr.” And windycarnage created an extensive series of these brightly colored, anime-esque characters, and inspired other Tumblr users to do the same. Pretty soon, there were lots of Yumblr characters popping up, with names like Constable Curry, the Macaroon Knight Apprentice, the Pumpkin Spice Knight, the Sweet Potato Alchemist, and Prince Sour Cherry.

Not all of the animations are sickly-sweet; one of the most popular entries by a user named drunkenfist shows a  borderline-creepy entry called “the pastarnisher” that looks like the Grim Reaper with spaghetti for hair.

He is described as “spaghetti shamanghetti that lives in the hostile lands of yumblrland,” and I don’t know exactly what that means but it sounds a lot more badass than a corporate buyout, and it’s too bad that this quirky little moment in Screen Shot 2013-05-20 at 1.09.31 PMTumblr animation fandom is so overshadowed by the Yahoo bid.

And while the strange subcultural moment occurred mainly in March 2012, a Google Trends search shows that people have been using the term “Yumblr” since 2011.  And if you scour Tumblr for older “Yumblr” tags, you see that people have been asking whether there’s a Tumblr for food called “Yumblr” for years. In fact, tagging pictures of food with the word “Yumblr” has been a thing for awhile.

Thus, the term Yumblr will go to its grave being associated with the acquisition instead of this quirky community, but we’re all the better for discovery it in the process. 

 [Yumblr illustration by windycarnage]