The Grotesque Satisfaction of 'Gripping Food With Force'

A popular new meme format has fans excited and horrified to see what foods look like when they're squeezed into sludge.
Bettina Makalintal
Brooklyn, US
September 14, 2020, 11:00am
a screenshot of a tweet from "gripping food with force" showing a before and after of a mcflurry being squeeze with one hand
Screenshot via Twitter/Image credit: @isaihwithonea 
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A series of deep dives into the weirder side of Instagram food.

In just two months, the Twitter account Gripping Food With Force has joined the hallowed ranks of the internet's shitposting greats, with its constant barrage of before-and-after photos of food being squeezed into an absurdist mess.

The premise is simple: in one picture, a pristine food; in the next, that same food gripped to shit using a single hand, resulting in abject horror. Blue "Mermaid Sparkle" ice cream, for example, turns into a sticky-looking dribble inside a closed fist, while a steak cooked medium becomes a juicy, bovine stress ball. The photos are haunting, grotesque—and yet, somehow satisfying, like a manifestation of frustration being squeezed out.

Corey Mckittrick created the Twitter page in July with the goal of entertaining people. Two months and thousands of followers later, fans of the format now send Mckittrick more than 400 image submissions a day. "I was very surprised when people started actually sending in their own," Mckittrick said. He likes having people submit their own work because it gives a peek into their world with every picture—and it ups the ante. "Then people started trying to out-do each other, adding to the creativity."

The level of chaos and effort is entirely up to the creator: Gripping a pineapple forcefully poses a more challenging—albeit slightly neater—task than crushing a chocolate-glazed doughnut, for example. With the before image full of potential energy, there's satisfaction in seeing the end result, like rogue grapes escaping a hand to end up on a sidewalk instead.

Gripping Food With Force is a collective exercise in processing interest and disgust at the same time, and figuring out what to make of it. No matter what food is being gripped, the comments are a reliable combination of horror—responses like "this is fucking V I L E" are common—and hesitant approval, like another that read: "This is the only one that has made me sad but it needed to be done and I accept that." Gripping Food is about taking a weird risk and being appreciated for it: As gross as the end result might look, the community of onlookers inevitably agrees that it is a feat worthy of their begrudging blessing.

Gripping Food has been an undeniably quick hit, with at least 338,000 Twitter followers as of this writing. Each post generally earns between 10,000 and 30,000 likes—though some particularly visceral ones, like a bottle of chocolate milk that's been gripped so hard it sprays a stream of brown liquid, get likes in the hundreds of thousands. On Facebook, Gripping Food now has upwards of 283,000 followers, and on Instagram—where users often also rate the images on a scale of 1-10—it has more than 75,000. Mckittrick describes his pages as the "worst account" on these platforms.

This, Mckittrick said, is a way of owning the response he gets from viewers: "...Because when people tell me my account is 'the worst,' it hurts way less, 'cause like, we already know." To him, Gripping Food gives people a break from the chaos of 2020. Maybe this is exactly what we all need this year: a contained bit of comedic chaos to distract ourselves from the unrestrained Hell raging beyond our control. Perhaps this is also why Gripping Food is not just Mckittrick's doing, but a crowd-sourced effort by people everywhere who want to squeeze food to a slimy pulp. Take that, 2020 stress.

Any food can be gripped, as long as one does it with one hand and takes a photo to preserve the moment. "It lets people channel however they feel into the food they're gripping," Mckittrick said. "It's almost, dare I say, 'artistic' the way some people do their submissions: the shots they get, the mess, the consistency of the food, the lighting, where it's at all makes the picture better."

It's been a mess of a year. Lean into it—grip your food, forcefully.