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“I made queso” was the breakout meme of the Super Bowl

On Twitter, a Fox News host’s unappetizing queso dip became a source of both schadenfreude and unity through cheese.

queso Karin Lau/Getty Images
Aja Romano writes about pop culture, media, and ethics. Before joining Vox in 2016, they were a staff reporter at the Daily Dot. A 2019 fellow of the National Critics Institute, they’re considered an authority on fandom, the internet, and the culture wars.

During the 2019 Super Bowl, America’s biggest unifying event, at least on social media, wasn’t the Big Game itself, or the conversation surrounding its commercials. It wasn’t even hating the New England Patriots.

It was ... dunking on Fox News’s Dana Perino’s attempt to make queso.

Perino is the anchor of the network’s regular news brief The Daily Briefing With Dana Perino and the co-host of The Five. On Sunday night, she decided to show off her special party dish, just as countless Americans do every year on Super Bowl Sunday. But Perino’s dish, a giant crock pot of queso, was, well, how to put this nicely? Let’s just say it was less than appetizing — and it certainly didn’t look much like queso.

Perino’s queso could have just been an embarrassing moment on the internet. But her professional association with Fox News meant that sharing a photo of her “queso” on social media was ultimately interpreted as something larger than just her outgoing personality. Specifically, Perino’s rather, um, lackluster-looking cheese dip became, for many on the left, an instant metaphor for the general lack of multiculturalism frequently displayed and expressed by Fox News itself.

The reactions were a mix of horrified and amused.

If possible, it got worse when Perino shared her recipe for the queso in question. Standard queso ingredients include things like chiles and beef; Perino’s involved ingredients from further afield of the typical Tex-Mex pantry, like cream of mushroom soup. (For the record, one should never put cream of mushroom soup in queso.) The political overtones of a white woman being unable to properly make a Latin-American cheese dip — and the schadenfreude that many found within — resulted in jokes that went in hard:

Somewhat predictably, the simple declaration, “I made queso,” went viral, serving as a brief and hilarious shorthand for 1) white people being really basic while 2) failing at multiculturalism, with 3) somewhat terrifying results.

One of the best examples? This magnificent slice:

Another winner: this iconic photo of a “luxury” meal from 2017’s infamous Fyre Fest debacle.

There were also some entertaining horror versions of the meme.

For her part, Perino took the meme in good humor.

One great thing about all of this? People began sharing actually good queso recipes on Twitter.

Another? A renewed appreciation for cheese dip as the great unifier. Long may it reign.

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