Chicken Nuggets are having a banner year, as I recently wrote on this very site. But with that increased popularity comes increased attention for … *checks notes* … K-Pop promotional partnerships? Which leads to increased opportunities for … *checks notes again* … accusations of child sex trafficking?
From Rolling Stone:
Last May, the K-pop superstar group BTS entered into a partnership with McDonald's to release a limited-edition promo meal that consisted of a medium Coke, medium fries, sweet chili and cajun dipping sauces, and a 10-piece order of chicken McNuggets. The meal almost immediately sold out, and enterprising individuals on social media decided to take advantage of the group's enormous popularity by selling certain items from the meal online. One item in particular, a chicken nugget shaped like a "crewmate" from the multiplayer online game Among Us, was auctioned off on eBay for nearly $100,000, a story that was quickly aggregated by multiple news sources, largely by citing it as an example of the absurdity of the meme economy.
I don't fully understand the connection between BTS and Among Us, but the rest of this story tracks so far. It also tracks that a $100K chicken nugget being auctioned off on eBay might raise some eyebrows.
What shouldn't track, but what sadly does, is that a bunch of QAnon'ers apparently saw these auctions and swiftly deduced that "chicken nuggets" were in fact not-so-secret-code for child sex trafficking.
Another TikTok creator known for spreading far-right conspiracy theories, with an even larger 25,000 follower count, posted another video promoting the theory. "When people become aware of child sex trafficking, it is no longer hidden in plain sight," she declares at the end of the video. Though that clip was taken down from TikTok, there is another on her page making similar claims about other eBay postings, such as a $20,000 potato chip shaped like a pizza slice and a Cheeto shaped like a urinating dog that is selling for $18,000 on the website. "There are more slaves today than in any time in history," she confidently claims. "Are you angry yet?"
More troublingly, since the chicken nugget TikTok was posted, the claim that a viral chicken nugget somehow serves as a front for sex trafficking has made the rounds on other platforms, particularly on YouTube, where it's been posted on a number of far-right conspiracy-flavored "news" channels.
Like I said: Chicken Nuggets are having a helluva year.
A $100,000 Chicken McNugget Triggered a Child-Sex-Trafficking Conspiracy Theory [EJ Dickson / Rolling Stone]