10 Rarest Memes You Won’t Find on the Average Tumblr Feed

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Memes are hard to define. They aren’t exactly pictures, text or videos, but they tend to include at least one of those elements. At their most basic, memes are inside jokes only understood through regular internet usage and a general cultural awareness. As a result, it’s even more difficult to pinpoint what makes a meme “rare.” Unlike collectible toys, cards, etc., memes gain value through popularity. A meme that no one sees or understands isn’t truly a meme. With that said, the rare memes on this list fall into two categories. The first is memes that used to be popular, but are no longer part of the trend cycle. The second is niche memes from particular communities. Read below to learn more about the mysterious world of memes.

  1. Doge
  2. First Appearance: Tumblr
    Started by: Atsuko Sato
     Year: 2013
    Doge
    photo source: Atsuko Sato

    While the doge meme was anything but rare for a long time, it is now a lot less common to find one on social media. Doge is a testament to the shelf life attached to memes and, in some ways, stands out amongst other internet trends because it was popular for a surprisingly long time. The Doge meme features a shiba inu with a funny expression as well as some text in comic sans. The associated text usually adds the words “much” and “very” in grammatically incorrect ways such as, “Much wow” and “very dog.”

    Did you know

    Atsuko Sato posted pictures of her rescue shiba inu just for fun in 2012. She was shocked to find those same pictures had become an internet sensation.


  3. Pepe the Frog
  4. First Appearance: “Boy’s Club”
    Started by: Matt Furie
     Year: 2008
    Pepe the Frog
    photo source: Matt Furie

    Pepe the Frog once ruled the internet, but there has been a noticeable decline in the meme’s usage on mainstream social media pages. While Pepe originated as a funny comic character that people riffed on and redesigned, he is now considered a hate symbol by several civil rights groups. His dissent began on 4chan, where users exploited the meme to promote white supremacist ideas. Today, it’s unlikely you’ll see too many Pepe memes outside of this context.

    Did you know

    Before its racist usage, there were several versions of Pepe the Frog, including sad Pepe, smug Pepe, angry Pepe, and rare Pepe.


  5. I Can Has Cheezburger
  6. First Appearance: LOLCat
    Started by: Eric Nakagawa and Kari Unebasami
     Year: 2007
    I Can Has Cheezburger
    photo source: Matt Furie

    The “I can has cheezburger”  meme has a similar story and premise to Doge. Like Doge, the  meme format was popular for a couple years as thousands of people put funny, grammatically incorrect captions over cute animal pictures. The meme was popularized on icanhas.cheezburger.com, which was one of the most heavily trafficked websites of the early 2000s. The creators got the idea when they saw a picture of a fuzzy grey cat asking for a cheeseburger on another platform called LOLcat. Although this particular meme format is a lot rarer nowadays, it helped solidify funny animals as part of meme culture.

    Did you know

    In its heyday, the I can has cheezburger site received 30 million views a month.


  7. Surreal Memes
  8. First Appearance: Reddit
    Started by: Unknown
     Year: 2016
    Surreal Memes
    photo source: CuboidSavior via Reddit

    Surreal memes began as a Reddit thread where users post “memes from a future unreality.” The idea is to post avant garde memes that ironize meme culture. Although the page itself is pretty popular, with 790,000 members, surreal memes are difficult to find on other websites or as standalone images. Surreal memes are similar to the cursed images trend, but rather than repulse or perplex, they rest on existentialism and irony. Most surreal memes are overly edited with images superimposed on one another.

    Did you know

    The word “meme” first appeared in “The Selfish Gene” by Richard Dawkins in 1976. It was an abbreviated form of the word “mimeme,” which translates to “That which is imitated.”


  9. Chess Memes
  10. First Appearance: Unknown, but most likely Tumblr
    Started by: r/chessmemes
     Year: 2017
    Chess Memes
    photo source: Chess.com

    Chess is a popular pastime across the world, but its related memes are more niche. As with any subculture, chess memes are obscure. Most of them can be found on chess forums and other web pages specifically dedicated to chess or chess enthusiasts. While there might be meme trends within the chess community, they aren’t mainstream.

    Did you know

    Early forms of chess appeared in India during the sixth century. While these games had four players rather than two, they did have similar figures and rules to modern chess.


  11. Ballet Memes
  12. First Appearance: Unknown
    Started by: @memes.for.bunheads
     Year: 2018
    Ballet Memes
    photo source: Memes.for.bunheads

    Although ballet’s prim and proper reputation might not seem like a meme breeding ground, this niche category does have a few loyal followers. People start training in ballet at a very young age and it can be difficult, making memes a great and accessible way to let off steam. One of the best places for a ballet meme fix is Instagram account @memes.for.bunheads. They have over 700 posts about all the pitfalls and victories found in the dance world.

    Did you know

    The Paris Opera Ballet is one of the best ballet academies in the world, a well earned title since it has been around for 308 years.


  13. Debate Memes
  14. First Appearance: Tumblr
    Started by: @speechanddebatee
     Year: 2018
    Debate Memes
    photo source: JC Debate

    Speech and debate is a competitive extracurricular found at the high school and college levels. The age range for speech and debate is ideal for meme creation and, as a result, there are lots of speech and debate memes. Only a particular subset of people understand these memes so they’re quite rare to find randomly online. Many of these memes come from pages like @speechanddebatee, an Instagram account dedicated to joking about the activity through various formats. The account has 2,711 followers at the time of writing.

    Did you know

    There is an entire debate format based on the senatorial debates between former President Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas. It is appropriately called Lincoln-Douglas Debate.


  15. Backgammon Memes
  16. First Appearance: Unknown
    Started by: Backgammon Memes
     Year: 2020
    Backgammon Memes
    photo source: backgammongalaxy.com

    While lots of people play backgammon, it doesn’t have the same hype or fame as other board games. As a result, backgammon memes are difficult to locate but the ones that do exist are on backgammon pages. They usually address poor moves, ugly boards and sore losers. One of the most popular pages for backgammon memes is on Facebook, where group members post memes they’ve created. There is a Twitter account for backgammon memes, aptly named @backgammonmemes, but it only has three followers. Interestingly, there is an active and popular Reddit thread for backgammon, but there aren’t any memes in it.

    Did you know

    Backgammon is 5,000 years old. There is evidence that ancient Mesopotamians played early iterations of the game.


  17. Golf Memes
  18. First Appearance: Unknown, but most likely golf forums
    Started by: Golf Monthly
     Year: 2017
    Golf Memes
    photo source: americangolf.com

    Although golf is a popular sport in general, the average golfer is 54. Memes have  been popularized by younger generations so golf memes aren’t as widespread compared to other sports and activities. Like the other niche memes, golf memes are mostly available on websites and pages dedicated to the sport. They come in various formats and often joke about difficult positions and common blunders.

    Did you know

    Golf became an olympic sport in 1900, but was removed in 1921 and not re-entered until 2009.


  19. Lacrosse Memes
  20. First Appearance: Unknown
    Started by: Lacrosse Memes
     Year: 2017
    Lacrosse Memes
    photo source: Lacrosse Memes via Facebook

    Lacrosse is an expensive sport that isn’t commonly played at most high schools and hasn’t been eligible for the olympics since 1908. Consequently, not a lot of people play it and, so, lacrosse memes don’t have a large audience. It’s difficult to find lacrosse memes online, especially ones that are up to date with current trends. For this reason, lacrosse memes are the rarest category on this list. However, there is a Facebook group called Lacrosse Memes with quite a few posts. Unfortunately, the group hasn’t been active for a couple years.

    Did you know

    Lacrosse started in Native American communities and was originally called stick ball. It was first played with wooden balls, but later replaced with leather balls made of deerskin.

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