Shrimp tail or tall tale? Cinnamon Toast Crunch caper sparks suspicion

Did an internet comedian really find shrimp tails in his Cinnamon Toast Crunch — or is he milking the breakfast-cereal brand for a taste of viral fame?

That’s the question hanging over a wildly popular caper playing out on Twitter this week, where user Jensen Karp has turned his cereal dispute into a serialized drama told in bite-sized tweets.

Karp, 41, claims he poured the supposed shrimp tails out of a bag of General Mills’ Cinnamon Toast Crunch on Monday.

“Something plopped out of the box,” he told the New York Times. “I picked it up and I was like, ‘This is clearly a shrimp tail.'”

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He added that he was “grossed out” by the long, narrow objects that he pulled out of the bag, which were encrusted in cinnamon and sugar.

“Why are there shrimp tails in my cereal?” he tweeted at the company later that day. “This is not a bit,” he added.

The L.A.-based comedian, who is married to Boy Meets World actor Danielle Fishel (Topanga), also shared a photo of his cereal.

“We’re sorry to see what you found!” Cinnamon Toast Crunch tweeted back. “We would like to report this to our quality team and replace the box. Can you please send us a DM to collect more details? Thanks!”

The complaint soon went viral as thousands of users, including Canadian actor Seth Rogen, jumped on the story.

“You win!” Rogen tweeted at Karp.

Cinnamon Toast Crunch said the objects did not appear to be shrimp in a follow-up tweet.

“It appears to be an accumulation of the cinnamon sugar that sometimes can occur when ingredients aren’t thoroughly blended,” the cereal brand wrote. “We assure you that there’s no possibility of cross contamination with shrimp.”

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Karp responded by calling the General Mills employees “weirdos” and suggested they were trying to “gaslight” him. He then went on to share alleged private messages and emails he’s had with the company’s team, before vowing to take the items to a lab for testing.

Karp told the Times that he shared his issue on Twitter only after submitting a complaint to General Mills via email. He added that the company has been “very nice,” and that they offered to replace the box, which he declined.

Social media users have occasionally captured viral fame in the past by claiming to find gross objects in their sealed food containers. The stories sometimes turn out to be hoaxes.

Karp insists that he is not faking his claims about Cinnamon Toast Crunch.

“I’m a comedy writer, but like, there’s no joke here,” he told the New York Times.

Karp had tweeted more than 60 updates, photos, memes and jokes about the alleged shrimp tails as of Wednesday at noon.

Karp claimed later on Monday that he would not send the cereal back to the company for testing because he doesn’t trust them. He then started speculating about some black bits that he allegedly found on other pieces of cereal in the bag.

“Someone tell me they aren’t like maggots or bugs,” he wrote in one tweet.

Karp later claimed that he had found dental floss and what appeared to be rat droppings in the bag, and that another bag on his shelf appeared to have been taped shut.

“I’d cut my mouth off if I were you,” Rogen joked in response.

Karp refused to send the items back to General Mills for the company to investigate and rejected suggestions that he bring the samples to a police station and report them as a case of food tampering. He told the New York Times that he is “not considering legal action,” but he might change his mind if he learns that he’s eaten “rat poop.”

The comedian’s claims have not been corroborated by other sources, but he did attack one radio station on Tuesday for questioning his narrative.

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Karp later tried to address what he called a “stupid” suspicion that he was faking his story. “There are black items COOKED ONTO the squares and tons of it at the bottom of the bag, in addition to shrimp tails and other SUGAR COATED junk,” he wrote, along with photos of the cereal squares. “Also, it’s only ‘viral’ because of their insane response. I would’ve dropped it.”

He also called the General Mills team “doofs” on Tuesday after the company tweeted an update on its investigation.

“We can say with confidence that this did not occur at our facility,” the Cinnamon Toast Crunch account tweeted. “Any consumers who notice their cereal box has been tampered with, such as the clear tape that was found in this case, should contact us.”

Karp claimed on Tuesday that he was “in touch with a testing lab” to determine the nature of what he found.

The story had not been resolved as of noon on Wednesday. Some critics were already calling for Karp to stop making a big deal about the issue.

“Everyone is a victim nowadays,” one user wrote in a popular response to Karp’s initial tweet. “Send the box back. Get 5 in return. This should be a nothing burger but the world we live in is ridiculous.”

“Weird how they perfectly fell on the counter, and not in a bowl where people normally pour their cereal,” another skeptic tweeted. “The company’s response is a giveaway,” he added. “They offered him some coupons because they know he’s full of (poop emoji).”

Others questioned why Karp was refusing to cooperate with the company’s investigation.

“Why are you playing hardball with them?” one user wrote, in a tweet with more than 650 likes. “What do you expect them to do, other than ask to see the product so they can investigate?”

Karp told the New York Times that he just wants the company to “fix” the problem so others, including people with shellfish allergies, do not get surprised by a bowl of cinnamon-toasted shrimp.

“I’m not even like trying to say, like, ‘Be better’ or whatever,” he told the paper. “I’m literally just saying, ‘Go investigate it.'”

General Mills CEO Jeff Harmening told CNBC on Wednesday that it is “highly unlikely that this occurred at a General Mills facility.” He added that the company is working to figure out what happened.

“We’re hoping that he’ll cooperate and help us get to the bottom of this,” he said.

The alleged shrimp-tail tale remained unresolved as of Wednesday at noon.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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