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Meet DinoTendies, the infamous chef of 4chan
"It’s not easy making hollandaise in an army helmet with a whisk made out of coat hangers."
Welcome to Extra Garbage Day! These Thursday issues are typically paywalled interviews with people I think are on the forefront of tech and web culture.
4chan is probably — unfortunately — the most influential website in America. It was the birthplace of the internet's first real memes, as we think of them, and acted as the primordial ooze from which most early social media user behavior emerged. And, sadly, most recently, it has become the central engine for global extremism in the English-speaking world. Its current reputation as the darkest corner of the internet continues to grow, even if there are much worse websites out there. But most people still don't actually seem to have a lot of experience with how the site works on a basic functional level.
It was started in 2003 by Christopher "Moot" Poole and, as the story goes, Poole took a Babel Fish-translated copy of the source code from the infamous Japanese message board 2chan, or Futaba Channel, which was, at the time, beginning to become popular among English-speaking anime fans, and used it to make a new site. Poole's English version of 2chan, dubbed 4chan, kept most of the same features as the original and those features have, for the most part, remained in place for almost 20 years.
4chan is anonymous. When you post on the site, it generates a string of numbers for the post and all users appear as “Anonymous,” which is why the community call each other “Anon”. Content on 4chan is organized into "threads," which have to begin with an image being shared. They eventually "404" or disappear. More recently, a new feature was added that shows whether or not a commenter within a thread is the same user who started the thread, which has made things a little more organized, but not by much. Basically, imagine a version of Twitter where a user starts a conversation, others pore in to reply, and the faster they reply, they longer the conversation lasts. Then, imagine, after the frenzy is over, the whole thing disappears — unless it's screenshot or archived on a third-party site.
Threads on 4chan are posted into different sections, like politics, anime, LGBT, and even cooking. And they all have slash-based naming conventions. For instance, the cooking board is /ck/ and the site's most infamous board, /b/, is the random section.
4chan's original user base mostly came over from Something Awful’s anime-related message board “Anime Death Tentacle Rape Whorehouse,” or “ADTRW,” after members of the community began fighting with moderators about what could and could not be posted. 4chan is no longer owned by Poole, though, it's now owned by Hiroyuki Nishimura, the creator of the Japanese message board 2channel, which incidentally, isn’t the same thing as 2chan. 2channel came first and, in 2001, many 2channel users migrated over to 2chan when it was believed that 2channel would be shut down. Here’s one more interesting piece of 4chan insight for you: the site, though completely chaotic, does have volunteer moderators. They're called "janitors" or "janis" and they basically make sure people don't spam illegal content like child porn.
The general conflict of the internet is that anonymous and pseudonymous users are more interesting, creative, and culturally impactful than verified users. But, with that anonymity or obscurity comes a lot of complications. Verified Twitter users are, without question, the worst part of Twitter and when it comes to interesting content, I’d argue, pretty worthless. But, they make brands feel safer, which means more money. This is why a site like Tumblr, which is almost entirely devoid of “real people,” creates more original internet culture than a platform like Instagram. This is also why 4chan, the ultimate haven for online anonymity, can be as exciting as it is toxic or, more often than not, lately, downright dangerous.
Because 4chan users are anonymous, becoming "4chan famous" is not the same as becoming something like a TikTok influencer. Most 4chan celebrities are actually people who became targets of the site's community, usually without their consent, like Christine “Chris-chan” Chandler, Catie "Boxxy" Wayne, and even the site's own founder, Poole. These people spent years being cyber-stalked by 4chan users and reaped none of the benefits that we now associate with online notoriety. But there are also a select few 4chan users who have actually managed to make a name for themselves simply because of what they post on the site.
This week, I have an interview for you with perhaps the most infamous, the most mysterious, and maybe the most long-lasting 4chan “celebrity” of all time. He goes by the name DinoTendies and he posts "recipes" where he "cooks" absolutely rancid "food" with a possum. If you want to see some of his greatest hits, his Imgur page is a good place to start.
I've been a fan(?) of DinoTendies work(?) for years. I was a big 4chan user in high school and college and DinoTendies' threads are the kind of thing I originally came to the site to look at. I wanted to see content I couldn't find anywhere else and I, like many non-radicalized former 4chan users now, have really complicated feelings about how the community has evolved since the early 2010s. Make no mistake, there was always racism there, but it felt like there were other things to look at, as well. And I feel like it’s always worth highlighting non-radicalized content when it appears on 4chan, if only to prove that it’s still possible for it to exist there.
My interview with DinoTendies was, frankly, wild. I agreed to keep his anonymity, but I did learn A LOT about how the whole DinoTendies project — and it very much is a project — started and where it's going. Most interestingly, DinoTendies is now making more content off-4chan than on. He’s got a YouTube channel that is A Lot. But here's maybe the most shocking thing I learned: DinoTendies is a trained chef. The following has been edited for pacing and clarity.
Can you tell me about how you first started using 4chan? What was it about the site that interested you?
I originally posted on Newgrounds and the old YTMND forums. I first posted on 4chan in 2006 to push a meme that went viral, which was actually on ABC and in the New York Times. I stuck around for some of the hilarious original threads that would be posted there.
I think a lot of people would be surprised that 4chan isn't just /b/ (the random board) or /pol/ (the very radicalized politics board). Can you tell me a bit about the site's cooking community?
It’s a bunch of trolls with a few people in there trying to have a serious discussion about food. If someone tries to do regular threads there they usually end up getting trolled off the board. It’s rare I post there anymore because I'm technically permanently banned on all of 4chan after I made a thread cooking "sea turtle" eggs. They were clearly chicken eggs I put in a hole on the beach. For whatever reason, a lot of people seriously hate my threads and mass-report them until the mod that has it out for me bans me for another month. I am usually able to get away with a thread on their fitness or weapons board.
[Ed. note: Here’s a good Tumblr if you want to see some highlights from the 4chan cooking community.]
How did the DinoTendies project start? Do you consider it a project?
I originally started it 4 years ago on 4chan’s cooking board. It was me just messing around trying to make some fun original content for /ck/. Yes, this is definitely a project of mine that I will continue to work on. It’s been a lot of fun going from shitposting on 4chan to working with various artists on different things I have going on.
Do you have a favorite DinoTendies post?
What percentage would say of what we see in DinoTendies posts is real? Like how much of it is a bit versus how much of it are you actually doing, I guess.
People ask me a lot if I really do live in this house with a bunch of possums and, yes, I do. All of the food or other items found in dumpsters was legit. Though, I really don't do this anymore because it’s extremely time-consuming and a lot of places I would go to started locking their trash up. For most of the threads or videos, I just have a general idea of what I'm going to do and just kind of roll with whatever happens. There are a few tricks here and there in videos, like when I made that egg sandwich on a barbell plate [see below]. There was no way the sun was going to get hot enough. So I put it in my oven, waited for it to hit 425F, and then threw it on my lawn and did the whole thing in one take.
What has doing DinoTendies been like outside of 4chan? You're on Twitter, you're on YouTube. How has it been taking the project to those platforms?
Much more positive and it’s really fun to interact with fans and meet some talented artists. Facebook and Twitter are nice because I can just make quick posts without doing an entire thread. YouTube has been a lot of fun, but can be really time-consuming. Besides the music, it’s just me making these videos with my cell phone and Windows Movie Maker lol.
OK, tell me about the opossum.
I currently have three that live on my porch. Taquito, Mochi, and Pierogi. I used to have cats and their food attracted them and I have been feeding generations of them for like 6 years now. I wouldn't go picking up random possums, but they are super friendly and just like to chill on my shoulders while I walk around the house.
How would you describe your style of content? It feels like it's a type of thing that really isn't as common as it used to be. You, to me, feel very in line with someone like Ken M. What do you think about that?
Yeah, the whole project is, to me, just an ongoing shitpost. When I first started the threads on /ck/ some people thought I was doing this as some sort of weird art project for college and I found that absolutely hilarious. It’s mostly just me messing around cooking with, and for, a bunch of possums and I find it really cool that so many people find this entertaining.
I actually do work in a pretty upscale restaurant and went to school for this, as well… I think most people kind of know. It’s not easy making hollandaise in an army helmet with a whisk made out of coat hangers.
If you’ve been forwarded this email, welcome! You can check out a full list of the previous Extra Garbage Days here. And here’s a short list of who I’ve interviewed recently:
And, lastly, this post isn’t from DinoTendies (at least I don’t think so) but you really can’t talk about 4chan’s /ck/ board without talking about the infamous “sleepy time chicken” thread. Click here to read the whole thing (NSFWish).
***Typos in this email aren’t on purpose, but sometimes they happen***