How a Portsmouth Pepper Went Viral and Became ‘The Trump Pepper’

Leader of Southsea Community Choir and Natural Voice Practitioner, Janet Ayers, never expected a Facebook joke to go viral last December. In this S&C exclusive, Janet writes about how ‘The Trump Pepper’ is still making the news, six months on.

I enjoy posting on Facebook. I like the game of putting something out there, a comment or a photo and seeing who ‘bites’. I enjoy the guessing game of who will respond and what they might say. My usual tally for a post gets a handful of likes and comments and then we all move on to something else.

Until the ‘Trump Pepper’ post, that is.

It started on a Saturday evening in December, cooking a Jamie Oliver Vegetarian Chilli while listening to Liza Tarbuck on Radio 2, as you do. My husband, Matthew, was chopping the veg. He sliced a red pepper from top to bottom, rather than my habit of cutting width ways.

That’s when it happened. Immediately he saw a screaming face, added some ‘eyes’ with the knife and hey-presto! Trump Pepper! I took a photo and shared it on Facebook and it started to get some likes.

Soon after my friend Mike Smith suggested I contact The Register – a national independent news and opinion site for the tech sector – as this kind of photo is just the sort of thing they share on their Bootnotes section. I ended up writing a short piece about the photo and they published it.

Very soon after that, within a couple of days in fact, it had then been reposted, shared and rewritten on various online news sites including the Huffington Post, The Sun, The Mail and onto other sites in the US and Europe. By now the original post was getting over one hundred likes and lots of comments, including some trolling from some Trump supporters who were rather upset that their newly elected leader was being compared to a vegetable.

I had my suspicions that one of the commentators was in fact Trump himself.

Screenshot from The Register.

I did receive a request from The Sun, asking permission to print the photo in the press. I ignored it and soon things calmed down and life returned to normal.

Then just a couple of weeks ago, Hat Trick, who produce Have I Got News For You got in contact wanting to show the image at the end of the show. So I said yes.

I really didn’t think anything else would come of it again, but it’s the gift that keeps on giving.

Since it’s latest airing and re-sharing on Facebook, even more people have liked the photo but no trolling this time. Trump is perhaps a bit too busy now he’s six months into his new job.

Pareidolia – the man in the moon, this ability that we have to see human faces in objects. It’s as if we are trying to see the human in all things. The Trump Pepper was animated and expressive but it was still only a red pepper that then went into a rather delicious chilli.

The real quest for us is surely to try and find the human in Trump, but so far the search has proved fruitless.

What next for us?

Well, we’ve bought a bag of sprouts in the hope of finding a likeness for Murdoch. Watch this space!

Main image and Facebook post by Janet Ayers.

Screen capture from The Register.