A side by side showing a full Bacardi Bucket and one with personal items in it. There is text that says 'Main Character of the Week' in a web_crawlr Daily Dot newsletter font.

abbymuniz_/TikTok (Fair Use)

Main Character of the Week: Woman who had her Bacardi Bucket confiscated at Applebee’s 

When she recounted the tale on her TikTok profile, a nationwide political movement began.


Ramon Ramirez


Posted on Mar 30, 2024   Updated on Mar 30, 2024, 1:22 pm CDT

Main Character of the Week is a weekly column that tells you the most prominent “main character” online (good or bad). It runs on Fridays in the Daily Dot’s web_crawlr newsletter. If you want to get this column a day before we publish it, subscribe to web_crawlr, where you’ll get the daily scoop of internet culture delivered straight to your inbox.

The internet is a stage, and someone unwillingly stumbles onto it weekly. This makes them the “main character” online. Sometimes their story is heartwarming, like women roasting men for what their favorite superhero really says about them; usually it’s a gaffe. In any case, that main character energy flows through the news cycle and turbo-charges debate for several business days.

Here’s the 
Trending team’s main character of the week.

It’s the woman who had her Bacardi Bucket confiscated at Applebee’s.

You know the Big 3 by heart at this point: The Drake, J. Cole, and Kendrick Lamar of—neigh the Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria—of the casual dining game: Rum Breeze BucketTropical Mama Bucket, and Party on the Beach Bucket.

In case you’ve been locked up for tax evasion without a burner phone, those are the $10 Bacardi Buckets being offered at Applebee’s this spring.

So a woman goes in and has one.

As she’s leaving, restaurant staffers take her bucket. When she recounted the tale on her TikTok profile, a nationwide political movement began.

Or rather, our coverage of the event got lots of pageviews because goodness, if we’re dropping a dime on a Bacardi Bucket it better be a souvenir. The kind you stick in a kitchen cabinet alongside a Carnival Cruise cup carved from a coconut, or the tiny, plastic batting helmet that previously came with a scoop of ice cream.

So what’s the dang deal? Why did Applebee’s crack the whip here?

It’s unclear. Commenters who self-identified as Applebee’s servers said they’d never bother to take back a Bacardi Bucket. The policy is unclear (we’ve reached out to corporate for answers to no avail) however, Bacardi Buckets are unavailable for curbside or carry out. So it’s likely a state liquor law concern. My gut says this woman on TikTok tried to leave while hers still had alcohol.

But there’s a lesson here about journalism. Yes, the Applebee’s Bacardi Bucket is a nationwide trending topic. But you can’t just publish a post where its URL is “applebees-bacardi-rum-buckets” and expect to magically do numbers. Believe me, we tried. A good and viral blog is loaded with proper nouns on the framing but at its core, it needs to be a good story reported the right way.

Like Bill Pullman in Independence Daywe wanted another shot. I’m grateful we got one. Our Bacardi Bucket coverage has enjoyed 332,745 page views this week. At our website’s current ad rates, that’s one URL making our shop north of $5,600 in a week. We pub about 30 stories a day.

And this is where I have to say it: Journalism isn’t a bad business model, it is just overseen by eight layers of Patagonia vests who don’t understand how to make content that is essential to readers. The Daily Dot is a newsroom of about 15 full-timers, a network of freelancers, and our CEO is always one Slack away. He is accountable to a board that is small, efficient, and led by bright women who understand the business.

There’s a lot of work to be done. But in knowing where and how to make money, I’ll always bet on my editors. Buckets on me this week gang.

The internet is chaotic—but we’ll break it down for you in one daily email. Sign up for the Daily Dot’s web_crawlr newsletter here to get the best (and worst) of the internet straight into your inbox.

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*First Published: Mar 30, 2024, 6:00 am CDT