It’s been long enough now that the people whose faces we recognize from old memes are ready to embrace their stardom, either getting out there to share their origin stories with the world or, as in the case of that baby from the Success Kid photo, getting old enough that they’re able to articulate what it’s like to grow up internet famous.
BuzzFeed Video sat down with Sam, the sand-clenching baby we’ve seen a million times before, who’s now a teenager with actual thoughts and feelings about having a picture of him as a toddler spread around the world.
“It’s weird to be famous as a baby,” Sam says right at the beginning before his mom describes how the famous photo came to be. Back in 2007, she says, the family took a trip to the beach and she tested out a new camera with shots that included her 11 month-old kid getting ready to munch on a handful of sand. She shared it online because it was a cute shot and then saw it start to spread. Sam’s parents describe how they watched different versions of the meme pop up, hoping that a relatively benign one would end up becoming the most popular.
They lucked out when the Success Kid variation won out over others. Sam’s mom mentions that her son was born prematurely and underwent surgeries as an infant, all of which made the internet calling him “Success Kid” surprisingly heartwarming. As for the picture’s subject, Sam says he has mixed feelings on being known as a famous baby, but ended up glad for his bizarre celebrity when his family needed to crowdfund money for his father to cover a medical emergency. (Hopefully, in the future, a history of accidental meme stardom won’t be a prerequisite for affording healthcare in America.)
We suppose it’s only a matter of time before Peanut Butter Baby grows into a Peanut Butter Man and shares similar stories about what it’s like for the entire world to have your childhood photos burned into their brains.
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