A user claiming to be the jokester who turned a simple picture of a smiling student into the Sheltered College Freshman phenomenon has come forward.
His Reddit username is, in what we hope is an allusion to the management of farm animals, HORSE_COCK_JUGGLER. (We’ll call him HCJ.) When the man behind the Sheltered College Freshman meme decided to let Reddit ask him anything in r/IAmA, HCJ quickly spoke up: “I'm the guy who made the first College Freshman” image macro, he wrote. Image macros are similarly formatted images with funny captions, now often created with online tools. When they become popular enough, they cross over into meme territory.
“About seven months ago I was about to enter college and do a scholarship program. I was nervous like any college freshman and wanted to joke about the things I did. On this fateful day I decided to google ‘College Freshman’ and find the first image that looked good. After uploading it to [image-macro site] Quickmeme I tossed a caption on it and uploaded to Reddit. I never thought it would take off the way it did but over the next few days I saw something I did blossom into something all over Reddit.”
HCJ’s claim seems to have merit. He noted that in Quickmeme’s archives, the very first example of Sheltered College Freshman—a photo of University of New Hampshire student Griffin Kiritsy—has the caption “First day of college / I fucking love Ultimate Frisbee!”
And indeed, HCJ posted that image to Reddit’s r/AdviceAnimals seven months ago, when the meme first sprang up. (r/AdviceAnimals, despite the name, is a Reddit section which collects image macros featuring both animals and humans with captions.)
“I originally made it to share my experiences and see what stereotypes other people saw college freshman as doing so I could avoid those,” HCJ told the Daily Dot via private message.
Around the same time, he created an image macro he called Possibly Gay Gary. The joke, similar to Successful Black Man, is to give a line at the top that perpetuates a stereotype, but deflate it with the second line below. “That's some big meat / I'm not sure how long it will take to cook,” it reads. However, that one never really took off into meme territory.
HCJ refused to give his name or location, but confirmed he’s now become his own meme subject: a college freshman.
“In real life I'm just a man with a love for making people laugh,” he wrote. My hobbies include gaming, photography, and Reddit.”
“I'm currently single. :)” he added.
Reddit handles that, too.
Image via Quickmeme