There's Shrimp in ... Cinnamon Toast Crunch?!

We all find weird or gross stuff in our food sometimes. You might think of the occasional loose hair in your salad or bug in your soup (my condolences). But some things are much more difficult to explain. Just ask writer Jensen Karp.

Upon finding what were clearly two shrimp tails in his Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Karp tweeted at the cereal’s official account to ask, understandably, what the hell was up. Shellfish remains are among the last things you’d expect when pouring out a bowl of classic sugary cereal. It’s disgusting and unsettling, but again, people find odd, repulsive stuff in their packaged food sometimes. It’s gross, but it happens. The saga probably should’ve ended there—but Cinnamon Toast Crunch’s response turned this into a full-blown Twitter scandal.

After saying they’d look into it cereal’s team conducted a detailed investigation only to conclude that the shrimp tails—which are very clearly shrimp tails—were actually “an accumulation of the cinnamon sugar that can sometimes occur when ingredients aren’t thoroughly blended.” The fact that the sugar clumps are perfectly shaped like shrimp tails, joints and all? Pure coincidence. Karp predictably didn’t stand for this explanation and replied swiftly, using Cinnamon Toast Crunch’s “thorough investigation” rhetoric against them. Cinnamon Toast Crunch offered him coupons for future boxes, but that’s not exactly the best solution to offer someone who just found shellfish remains in your cereal.

By that point, however, the rest of Twitter had caught on. Cinnamon Toast Crunch was trending, and for exactly the reason a brand doesn’t want to be.

Brands regularly overdo it on Twitter, targeting millennials and Gen Z by co-opting internet humor and engagement tactics. It’s how Steak-umm and other Twitter brands bizarrely morphed into mental health advocacy and general wokeness. No one’s asking freezer steaks for advice, but they’re offering it up anyway. And even if that strategy is overtly pandering and dumb, it works a whole lot better than openly lying to your customers about the shellfish remains they just found in your box. That might’ve worked in a day and age where people couldn’t post pictures to the internet and, you know, look at them.

Maybe Cinnamon Toast Crunch can turn this bad press in their favor and introduce a line of cinnamon flavored shrimp puffs. Or maybe they can just take the monstrous, shrimpy loss and live to tweet another day. It’s a hard lesson in late capitalism, but one that has to be absorbed much the way the shrimp tails absorbed that sweet cinnamon sugar. We live in an incredible digital age, one of boundless communication and interconnectivity with our fellow human beings and the ability to consume whatever our hearts desire. But every once in a while we’re gonna get some shrimp in our cereal.