There were dozens and dozens of indelible images that emerged from the weekend of nationwide protests that were held in response to the murder of George Floyd: the mask-wearing man holding a 'Black Lives Matter' flag while standing on top of the CNN logo outside the broadcaster's Atlanta headquarters; the attempted (and long-overdue) destruction of Philadelphia's statue of late police chief Frank "Vote White" Rizzo; the overhead shots that captured the scope of these demonstrations, even during an ongoing pandemic.
As the protests have raged on, citizens and commentators have focused a large amount of attention on those looting even though they constitute a small number of protesters overall. Finger-pointing has erupted on social media as there has been widespread controversy and confusion about the demographics and intentions of looters in various cities. But in a rare and bizarre moment of levity, one masked person was filmed in Seattle on Saturday night, calmly walking from a downtown Cheesecake Factory while carrying an entire strawberry-topped cheesecake and a pair of wine glasses. KIRO 7 reported that the windows of the Cheesecake Factory on Pike Street were broken and bottles of alcohol were taken from the restaurant.
But the as-yet-unidentified individual casually making off with a large dessert and its silver display plate caught everyone's attention, including the reporters who were broadcasting live at the time. "You see someone actually walking away with a cheesecake there, after the Cheesecake Factory was looted" the KIRO 7 anchor said. "Unclear where they may have gotten that, but…"
By using some context clues, namely that they're right near a Cheesecake Factory, it seems obvious where the person got it. The Cheesecake Factory's website says its 10-inch Fresh Strawberry cheesecake is their "Most Popular Flavor for Over 35 Years!"
That strawberry-and-whipped-cream-topped haul quickly caught the internet's attention—as did the fact that it took the news team completely by surprise. "Obsessed with the news anchor who while reporting on the cheesecake factory being looted claimed she was unclear where someone got a cheesecake," social media strategist Alexis Wilson tweeted. "Queen of not snitching!!!!!!"
"I know it’s probs just journalistic instinct but I find this almost sweet," writer Alanna Bennett added. "'Yes, uh, Cheesecake Factory was just looted but can we REALLY prove that is where this young person got a perfect, pristine-looking cheesecake?' We stan someone who won’t narc."
Just as quickly as the person and their $64 dessert reached legendary status, others started to share the possibility that it wasn't real.
"Y'all. I work here," someone named Boner Garage wrote. "That is a fake cheesecake used for display." Another Seattle resident said that the Pike Street location had been "closed for two months," although Yelp reviews indicate that it is open for takeout and has been delivering through DoorDash.
In mid-March, the CEO of the Cheesecake Factory announced that it would be temporarily closing 27 restaurants and furloughing thousands of its hourly workers. It also sent a letter to its landlords informing them that the chain would not be paying April rent on any of its 294 restaurant locations, and the California-based chain said that it would be accessing its $90 million line of credit in order to increase the amount of cash it had on hand. When contacted by VICE, a representative for the Cheesecake Factory declined to comment.
Regardless of this person's intentions, or whether they has any idea that they had the internet's attention over the weekend, their appearance on our Twitter timelines was a brief and unexpected source of levity in an otherwise heavy, overwhelming, and important weekend.