In April 2023, Elon Musk made a brief yet notable change to Twitter’s logo, replacing it with an image representing Dogecoin, a cryptocurrency he has vocally supported and invested in. He also tweeted a screenshot of an old conversation with a user who had suggested changing Twitter’s bird icon to Doge, accompanied by a cartoon.
This raises the question: Why Doge? Where did it originate, and what’s behind the internet’s fascination with it?
Doge Memes: The History
The story of Doge begins on June 24, 2005, with the early internet series Homestar Runner. In one episode, a character coins a phrase that would evolve into the iconic Doge meme.
Fast forward to February 2010, when Japanese kindergarten teacher Atsuko Sato posted a photo of her Shiba Inu, Kabosu, on her blog:
This image would become the emblematic Doge meme.
The meme’s popularity surged further when a subreddit post in 2012 featured an audio clip of a computer-generated voice interacting with a Doge in a role-playing game scenario.
This post amassed over 33,000 notes within a year, spreading rapidly across Tumblr, 4Chan, and Reddit.
Doge-themed subreddits like r/doge and r/DailyDoge emerged, driven by the meme’s humor and the dog’s endearing appearance.
The meme’s influence extended beyond online communities. YouTube implemented an Easter egg that changed text to rainbow colors and comic sans font when users searched for “doge meme.”
But it was in Summer 2013 that the Doge meme solidified into its current form. A significant event was the r/Murica Raid on August 26, when 4Chan users flooded the subreddit with memes featuring Kabosu, propelling her to internet fame.
In December 2013, Dogecoin was launched as a cryptocurrency, initially intended as a satirical take on Bitcoin speculation. Surprisingly, Dogecoin gained substantial popularity, reaching an $88.8 billion market cap by May 2021.
The impact of the Doge meme extends beyond its financial success. In 2014, it was awarded a Webby for meme of the year, the first non-cat meme to win the accolade.
In June 2021, Atsuko Sato auctioned an NFT of the original Kabosu image for $4.06 million, donating part of the proceeds to charity.
She expressed her belief that Kabosu had a special mission to bring joy to people worldwide:
Kabosu’s story and the Doge meme represent more than just internet humor. They exemplify a moment when the online world united in celebration of something positive and universally loved, embodying a spirit of ‘such love, much wow.’