On 12 March 2022, both the internet and mass media came to a standstill and realised that there are indeed two types of people in this world: those who know how to cut cucumbers, and Kendall Jenner.
In episode five of Hulu’s reality show The Kardashians, Kendall was seen attempting to make herself a small snack to munch on throughout the day when viewers, and soon every living being on the internet, witnessed her unsolicited culinary skills in action. Instead of holding the phallic fruit from one end and chopping it normally from the other, the socialite contorted her arms and proceeded to cut slivers off on the board.
While the 26-year-old felt like it was a “pretty easy” task to do, momager Kris Jenner, already visualising the viral memes and TikTok edits, kept offering Kendall the prospect of fetching a “chef” to help with the snack.
“Be careful, I nicked myself,” Kris chirped, as Kendall replied “I know, I’m kinda scared”—after declining professional help from an expert… to cut bloody cucumbers. The sheer awkwardness and lack of skill set immediately threw Kendall under the meme culture bus as soon as the episode aired. Mere hours later, several TikTokers recreated the viral scene with their own twists as angry Twitter users labelled the entire ordeal as the “embarrassment of the century.”
“Obsessed with Kendall Jenner trying to prove she’s not an out of touch spoiled rich girl by insisting on making her own snack and almost dislocating her shoulder trying to slice a cucumber,” a user tweeted. “Anytime you feel like you’re bad at doing something, watch Kendall Jenner chop a cucumber,” a second advised.
Meanwhile, over on TikTok, users curated #cucumbergate—with 3.7 million views and counting—to upload parodies of the scene with Vecna from Stranger Things, imagine how Kendall would do other household chores, and even share tips on how to cut cucumbers perfectly.
For her part, shortly after Cucumbergate evolved into a full-blown cultural phenomenon, Kendall replied to a tweet that read: “Kendall Jenner trying to cut a f*cking cucumber is the most tragic thing I’ve ever witnessed.” “Tragic,” the model creatively wrote in response, seemingly aiming to silence her detractors with a word ripped from the tweet in question.
Although Kendall went on to douse herself in some self-deprecating humour by posting an Instagram Story of a cucumber and a knife with the caption “Here we go again,” sister Khloé Kardashian later revealed that she was actually not pleased with how things went down. “Oh my god, she’s not happy about that. I feel so bad… I’m like, ‘Kendall, god is fair. You’re the most beautiful human being in the world. You have wild-looking toes, god bless, and you can’t cut a fucking cucumber.’ The world is good,” Khloé shared on the Not Skinny But Not Fat podcast. What a brutal sibling comment to make indeed.
“She has the perfect life, this perfect life, she’s a gazelle of a human being, she walks the runway. She’s like all these amazing things, [and] you can’t cut a fucking cucumber?… Please, come over and stay with me for one week, and she’ll really cry herself a river… I want to teach her how to cut a cucumber.”
On 23 May, Kylie Jenner also acknowledged Cucumbergate and posted a TikTok with Kendall at Kourtney Kardashian’s wedding, captioning the video “Me and Cucumber Girl.” Is it just me or does someone else smell the possibilities of a manufactured reality here?
First off, it’s worth noting that Kendall was wearing an 818—her tequila brand named after the postcode of her residence—jumper in the viral clip. The scene essentially broke the internet with her branding and logo in the forefront, and all the callbacks to the so-called “tragic” incident by other members of the family were mere attempts to burn the scene permanently into your consciousness.
I mean, think about it. The Kardashian-Jenner clan chose to air the incident themselves in the first place. Considering that Kendall has probably been surrounded by personal chefs her entire life, it’s not entirely impossible to digest the fact that she would fumble with daily tasks like these.
With 818 in the conversation and Kendall later taking to her Instagram to ‘work’ on her skill set, the marketing ploy sort of seems like one of those black-and-white advertisements which would later be colourised when the protagonist learns how to use the product in question—character development, simply put.
In a viral video by MJ Corey, a Brooklyn-based writer and psychotherapist well known for applying media theory and postmodern philosophy to the Kardashian family stunts, the creator highlighted a particular scene in a follow-up episode of the reality show.
“The most recent Kardashians episode when Kendall kept talking about cucumbers,” Corey said as the video panned to feature a screenshot of the 26-year-old-model stating: “Wow, the cucumbers on that salad are calling my name.” Corey highlighted that the scene was at the beginning of the episode, where Kendall was seen having lunch with a friend and they were talking about being house flippers. Towards the end of the episode, the socialite went on to mention: “I’m goin’ for this cucumber, guys!” as she met up with Kim and Khloé and lamented the perils of being misunderstood by the public.
“Obviously, they wanted us to notice this. It’s a callback to the last season in The Kardashians episode that, technically, the timeline was taking place during the Astroworld tragedy—which was not acknowledged in the show,” Corey continued. “And the big moment of that episode was instead that Kendall cut a cucumber in a funny way, which people took the bait with that one.”
“A lot of you guys were asking me to speak on the cucumber incident—Cucumbergate—but there wasn’t much to say about it, besides the fact that perhaps we were baited to say things about it.” What’s more is that, in the said follow-up episode, an unopened bottle of 818 was placed with the plastic label wrap right on the lunch table and was featured in most scenes. Coincidence? I think not.
“They need better writers. It’s too predictable,” a TikTok user commented under Corey’s video. “The fun of watching the show is finding all the ways they try to control the narrative!” another wrote, adding to the discourse that The Kardashians is essentially a walking brand deal in itself. “They’re going to release a line of cucumbers next for sure,” a third joked—at least I hope they were joking and not manifesting.
Fans over at Reddit’s r/KUWTK, however, seem to believe that Kendall was just stoned during the entire episode. “If you knew you were being filmed and were stoned, I could definitely see a momentary lapse of judgement for something you do normally 99.9 per cent of the time,” a user wrote, while others accepted the popular theory that the model is just “spoiled AF.”
Fast forward to 31 October 2022, the 26-year-old has officially ruined the alleged PR stunt by acknowledging it as a Halloween costume—kind of like when problematic actor Jared Leto discombobulated the “It’s Morbin’ time” joke by actually saying it out loud on Twitter. Presenting, Kendall the “cute-cumber,” here to “give out fruits and veggies” for trick-or-treating. If this is not the rotting cherry on top for the PR stunt, I don’t know what is.
They say the devil works hard, but that Kris Jenner, the Kardashian-Jenner ‘momager’ works harder. Everyone has their own opinions about the Kardashian-Jenner clan, who are notorious for a number of reasons. You can think what you want, but their ability to monetise literally anything, big or small, is beyond impressive.
For those who don’t know, just last month, Kylie Jenner, entrepreneur, founder of Kylie Cosmetics, and one of the world’s youngest billionaires released a video tour of the Kylie Cosmetics office, at the end of which, she sang three words to her baby—“rise and shine.” The internet is a bizarre place where things like that can become huge in no time. In less than a few days ‘Rise and Shine’ became a viral meme. It has since been turned into a remix and the #riseandshine hashtag has been shared on TikTok over a billion times. Now, as one of the world’s most influential and famous people, and the world’s youngest billionaire, what do you do if something you’ve said turned into a viral meme? You try to trademark the phrase and capitalise on it, of course.
Jenner managed to turn the internet meme we have created into money—just after one week since posting the video, she has already applied to trademark (the entire family has filed 716 trademarks so far) the phrase in order to put it on “belts, bottoms as clothing, coats, dresses, footwear, gloves, headbands, headwear, jackets, loungewear, scarves, sleepwear, socks, swimwear, tops as clothing and undergarments,” and completely sold out of the $65 ‘Rise and Shine’ hoodies listed on her website. And while a big part of the internet envies or even hates Kylie for it, it is important to ask ourselves one question: aren’t we the ones who let this happen in the first place?
The Kardashian-Jenners are certainly one of the most famous families in the world, but they’re also one of the most hated ones, be that for the many ways in which they’ve acquired their wealth or their impact and influence on our society. Perhaps best known for their reality TV show Keeping up with the Kardashians, they are living and breathing pop culture—they are on television, they are talked about in the media on a daily basis (ironically, I am also contributing to this right now), and they are in major fashion campaigns. Somehow, over the last decade, the family has exerted so much influence, that they are able to monetise almost all aspects of their lives.
Every single drama of the Kardashian-Jenner world, from family feuds and affairs, business ventures, PR disasters (the internet will never let go of that Kendall Jenner Pepsi commercial) to near-death experiences, and robberies feed the celebrity news cycle. Driving people’s interest in the reality TV show Keeping up with the Kardashians brings viewers, which then bring an ever-increasing number of sponsorships and brand deals. The common saying ‘there is no such thing as bad publicity’ seems to really apply to their family—they can do anything and just air it on their show. For example, last February, following a family drama where Jenner’s best friend allegedly had an affair with Jenner’s half-sister’s partner, Kylie decided to drop the price of a lip kit dedicated to her best friend by 50 per cent, selling out instantly.
The thing is, the influencer is only as good as those who get influenced by them. The Kardashian-Jenners would not be able to thrive on the hype created around them, if we didn’t create it in the first place. To say that every single person with even a slight engagement in pop culture is responsible for this would be a stretch, but every single time anybody speaks of them, be that praise, intrigue or criticism, we instantly make them even more relevant. Whether you hate or you love the Kardashian-Jenners—if you are involving yourself in the conversation in any way, shape or form, you could easily be making them even richer. And their fan base is especially responsible for that.
Yes, what the Kardashian-Jenners are doing here can be seen as borderline exploitative, but it’s also savvy, and in many ways entrepreneurial and creative. How many of us can say that we wouldn’t do the same for money, were we given the option? At the end of the day, Kylie isn’t forcing you to buy a $65 ‘Rise and Shine’ hoodie or a lip-kit—she is simply using her influence to sell, and we have given her and the rest of her family this influence. Of course, there are way better things to use your influence on than selfishly monetizing on it, and in Kylie’s case, her influence and power is immense. In 2018, after she tweeted “sooo does anyone else not open Snapchat anymore? Or is it just me… ugh this is so sad,” Snapchat’s stock lost $1.3 billion. Jenner only tweeted what everyone was already thinking.
In the same way that Jenner could be using her influence for the greater good, so could we. If you have a problem with either member of the Kardashian-Jenner clan making money off of something you deem as ridiculous, think twice before starting a conversation about it and feeding into the cycle. Otherwise, you’ve played yourself.