241543903 heads in freezers

Cramberrey/YouTube

What is the 241543903 or the ‘Heads In Freezers’ meme?

241543903 is a series of numbers associated with images of heads…but why?

 

Lindsey Weedston

Memes

241543903 is a series of seemingly random numbers associated with images of heads in freezers after a 2009 post blew up into an early meme. The idea for this meme is that if enough people took a photo and posted it online to websites like Flickr or other photo collection repositories and tagged it with the number 241543903, the search results for that number would bring up a list of these photos.

Original 241543903 meme photo.
sanpedrogluestick/Flickr

This is how search engines work, after all. The 241543903 or “heads in freezers” meme is now a prime example of collective search engine manipulation.

What is 241543903, or the Heads In Freezers meme?

The 241543903 asks internet users to take photos of themselves standing with their heads inside of freezers to post online with the file name or tag set as that specific number. The simple task resulted in pages and pages of similar images of nothing but this particular and strange act on search sites like Google after performing a search for 241543903.

Where did 241542903 come from?

The meme’s creator reportedly chose the specific number 241543903 as a combination of the serial number on his own freezer, as well as the barcodes from two items inside it: A bag of edamame and a package of soba noodles.

In a 2010 interview with the now-defunct meme website Urlesque, the creator, New York artist and bizarre trend appreciator David Horvitz, revealed the number’s origins as well as how he came up with the idea for taking photos of people with their heads in freezers. According to internet lore, his friend Mylinh was feeling ill one day, and he advised her to put her head in the cold box to feel better.

Who started 241543903 Heads In Freezers?

David Horvitz, inventor of the heads in freezers meme, is known as an appreciator and spreader of unusual do-it-yourself (DIY) instructional projects. His other works of art include a 2016 billboard titled “Rachel Carson is my Hero” and something called “somewhere in between the jurisdiction of time,” which he describes on his website as “Thirty-two unique glass vessels carrying seawater collected in the Pacific Ocean at longitude line 127.5° west of Greenwich and placed in a north to south line.”

Horvitz first posted his own head-in-freezer photo to his Flickr account SanPedroGlueSticks on April 6, 2009, and encouraged others to follow suit.

After Horvitz posted the first 241542903 photo, a Tumblr account posted instructions for how others could help create the search engine phenomenon. The artist uploaded the instructions on April 10, 2009, as a screenshot of a simple text program containing a short all-caps paragraph explaining what to do and what the results would be.

241543903 meme instructions.
David Horvitz/Tumblr

Before the instructions appeared on Tumblr and on the same day as Horvitz posted his first 241543903 photo, another image of someone with their head in the freezer showed up on Flickr under a different account. It’s unclear whether this was a friend of Horvitz’s or just someone who caught on fast.

Hundreds of other Flickr users participated in the trend in the following months. Eventually, it caught fire on social media sites, including MySpace, Facebook, and the early version of Twitter.

On April 23, 2009, Horvitz registered 241543903.com, which is now a Vietnamese gambling website. The original was a blog dedicated to the trend under the headline “Experiencing a MEME in the Making.”

How do you use 241542903?

You can still participate in the meme by following the Tumblr instructions. To this day, searching on just about any engine for the number 241543903 brings up little other than photo after photo of someone with their head in a freezer.

241543903 meme with a smiling man.
Hulemann/Reddit
241543903 meme with a furry in the freezer.
QilinRul3z/Reddit
241543903 meme with someone holding their arms back behind them.
Jonzen22/Reddit
241543903 meme with a smiling woman.
wintrparkgrl/Reddit
This is good, this is better meme with a man being cooled by a fan and a head in freezer photo.
TonyTanThanh0408/Reddit
241543903 meme featuring Han Solo frozen in carbonite.
gutgutgut/Reddit
241543903 meme with a cat in the freezer
Mrcntrygun/Reddit

Although this is an older example of an internet meme, variations can be found today on modern social media sites including TikTok. However, searching TikTok for “heads in freezers” is more likely to bring up true crime accounts.

https://www.tiktok.com/@derickseaman/video/7041898294011874586

Why did people post 241542903?

Explaining why people jump on board strange meme trends such as the heads in freezers phenomenon is better left to sociologists, but it has happened time and time again throughout meme history. In this case, the meme may have inspired internet users with the chance to take part in the manipulation of some of the biggest and most powerful search engines known to humanity.

There’s something about exercising collective power over big corporations and unknowable technology that always seems to appeal to human beings. Horvitz himself mused on this tendency, and mentioned the meme in question, in his book Everything That Can Happen in a Day, published in November 2010.

Today, people debate why this meme became popular and whether it’s even funny on Reddit.

Comment
byu/skuppy from discussion
inWTF
Comment
byu/skuppy from discussion
inWTF

In Brazil and Japan

The 241542903 quickly escaped the borders of the U.S. and took off in Brazil and Japan in particular. Its popularity in Brazil shares credit with a friend of Horvitz’s who lives in the South American country and actively helped it spread there, according to his Urlesque interview. This friend reportedly passed on the instructions for the meme on popular Brazilian websites and social media spaces and by word of mouth on the streets.

The Tumblr instructions for the search engine manipulation also appeared on the social site translated into Japanese.

241543903 meme instructions in English and then translated to Japanese.
Tumblr
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