The best 'milkshake ducks' of recent history

The phrase 'milkshake duck' has just been announced as Macquarie Dictionary's word of the year. 

If you don't spend a lot of time on Twitter or are over the age of 30, you may be somewhat puzzled by this choice. What exactly is a milkshake duck? Why have a dairy-based dessert and a waterfowl been crammed together in an apparently meaningless phrase?

Macquarie defines the term as "a person who is initially viewed positively by the media but is then discovered to have something questionable about them which causes a sharp decline in their popularity".

The term was coined in June 2016 by Australian cartoonist Ben Ward, who tweeted the following sketch from his Twitter account: 

Ward has since expressed regret about his monstrous creation, which has haunted him for the last year and a half.

The phenomenon could only exist in the digital age, when heroes are born, celebrated, disgraced and forced back into anonymity all in a matter of hours. 

In a time when most people on Earth have access to all of human knowledge in a matter of microseconds, not only do people rise fast, they fall fast. 

"In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes," Andy Warhol once said. In retrospect he was being optimistic.

Here are Newshub's pick of the most memorable milkshake ducks of the recent past:

Keaton Jones

Young Keaton became an instant celebrity when his mother made the inexplicable decision to film her bullied son as he wept in misery.

The best 'milkshake ducks' of recent history
Photo credit: Kimberly Jones

After said video went viral, the 11-year-old was met with a wave of support from sympathisers who hailed him as an anti-bullying hero. A GoFundMe campaign was started to raise money for Keaton's family, allegedly without their knowledge. 

Justin Bieber gave Keaton a shout out in an Instagram video. Chris Evans invited him to the premiere of the next Avengers film. Had his fame not been abruptly cut short he probably would have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. 

But cut short it was, and by that most fickle of mistresses - social media. Photos surfaced showing Keaton's mother holding a Confederate flag, as well as past Facebook posts in which she criticised black athletes for protesting police brutality.

And just like that, Keaton's 15 minutes were over as quickly as they began. The celebrities who had been so willing to commend a child's raw emotional vulnerability deleted their social media posts and withdrew their offers. 

There is no word on whether Keaton is still being bullied, or if his milkshake duck status has somehow made him more popular.

Chewbacca mom

The internet is a dark and often distressing place, but there's one thing it gets right: videos of adults utterly humiliating themselves in their expressions of happiness.

When Texas mother of two Candace Payne bought an electronic Chewbacca mask and used the new Facebook Live feature to show friends her new purchase, she could hardly have known she would one day end up a milkshake duck.

The best 'milkshake ducks' of recent history
Photo credit: Candace Payne

The four-minute video of Candace giggling uncontrollably while wearing the mask, which groaned in a macabre imitation of the beloved Star Wars character, brought joy to all corners of the internet. She became an overnight sensation and has appeared on talk shows, been given free Star Wars merchandise, and has even written a book.

But backlash was inevitable. Candace was accused of profiting from 'white mediocrity' while the talents of people of colour went unrecognised. Not an unfair observation, but perhaps a little harsh for a woman whose only crime was filming herself chuckling in a novelty mask.

Manchester's homeless 'hero'

The rise and fall of Chris Parker is a darker milkshake duck tale than most. 

The best 'milkshake ducks' of recent history
Photo credit: The Manchester Evening News

Chris was a homeless man who happened to be in the foyer of Manchester Arena on the night of Ariana Grande's ill-fated concert in May 2017. 

In the aftermath of the terrorist bombing that killed 23 people and injured 500, Chris claimed to have rushed back to the arena to help the victims. He said he helped a young girl who had lost her legs in the blast, and that he held another woman as she died. 

Praised around the world for his supposed heroism, a crowdfunding campaign was set up to help Chris by raising more than £52,000 ($NZD98,304). Ill-fated crowdfunding campaigns set up by well-meaning strangers is a common theme in milkshake duck stories.

It wasn't social media that brought about Chris' downfall, but CCTV. Security footage taken in the aftermath of the attack showed him wandering around the bodies of the dead and injured, using his phone rather than helping anyone. While he did comfort several of the injured, he also stole a purse and a mobile phone from two different injured people as they lay helplessly on the floor of the foyer.

The 33-year-old pled guilty to two counts of theft and one of fraud, bringing his brief moment as a hero to a halt.

Ken Bone

The 2016 US election was a tumultuous event, to say the least. Among all the talk of walls and emails and groping women without their consent, the internet found common ground in their admiration of Ken Bone.

HOLLYWOOD, CA - OCTOBER 20:  Ken Bone attends the premiere of Disney And Marvel Studios' 'Doctor Strange' on October 20, 2016 in Hollywood, California.  (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
Photo credit: Getty

A portly man with a distinctive moustache and red jumper, Ken was catapulted to online fame after asking an innocuous question about energy during the second presidential debate. Both Democrats and Republicans could agree that Ken and his jumper - which quickly sold out online - was delightful, the embodiment of a wholesome meme. Until he wasn't.

After conducting an AMA on Reddit using his real username, Ken suffered the ultimate humiliation: people went through his internet history. From raunchy posts about Jennifer Lawrence's anus to an admittance of insurance fraud to the revelation that he was a fan of pornography featuring pregnant women, Ken's brief flirtation with stardom ended in the most embarrassing way possible.

His squeaky-clean reputation shot to pieces, he quietly retired from fame.

Oh wait, he has a podcast.


Contact Newshub with your story tips: