Food / November 9, 2022

Have you heard of r/BreadStapledToTrees?

Food / November 9, 2022

Have you heard of r/BreadStapledToTrees?

Words: Shamim de Brún
Images: Reddit

Why staple slices of today’s bread today on a sycamore or toast it lightly and affix it to ash? According to Bon Appetite, it’s because bread is a staple food.

The internet’s most enduring little pocket of weird fun is basically a subreddit that grew out of a joke to become its own community of 315,000 enthusiasts who traipse through the wide world with a stapler and a slice of bread looking for the perfect way to ‘spruce’ up the thread.

The Origins

Like all things sprout on the web, it’s tricky to ascertain the true origin story of the meme that has enveloped a community as big as the population of the whole of County Cork. Who stapled the first piece of bread to a tree? We may never know, but it was in May 2019 that a Brisbane resident posted a photograph of a slice of white loaf attached to a trunk in the Redcliffe Peninsula Facebook group. He posited that unusual sighting might mean something untoward.

Esquire describes r/BreadStapledToTrees as a “baffling new meme.” On the other hand, Yahoo refers to it as a “bizarre trend.” What it really is, is nourishing internet culture. Bread loavers and outdoorsy people unite over a love of dad jokes and harmless trolling. r/BreadStapledToTrees brings a jolt of joy to many of us.

The Community

What joy could be simpler than a picture of sliced bread stapled to the trunk of an avocado tree as “avocado toast” coming to you on your Luas commute while you sip on your keep cup? What could make you inadvertently snort harder than a slice of wholemeal bread gazing up at you

The community has also crossed over into the real world, with users taking each other out on dates. In the states, people have gone to relative strangers’ prom and homecoming via letters cut out of bread on trees. As u/Zekava recently commented on the forum, “Sometimes, things seem grim and depressing. Posts like this are excellent reminders to focus more on the magic and whimsy in life.”

The sub is complete with its own set of whimsical rules. Bread must be stapled. It can’t be taped, glued, tied, or nailed to a tree. They encourage you to staple only three slices of bread at a time, though it won’t get you barred for going for a fourth. 

The Rules

In an interview with Bon Appetite, the moderators say the rules are for the protection of the trees. No bonsai, cacti, or young trees are allowed either. He maintains conservationists have assured the moderation team that staples couldn’t harm larger, old trees. A quick google confirms this. In fact, “do staples hurt trees” is the second drop-down when you type “do staples” into the search bar. The only search that beats it is “do staples hurt coming out”.

There is also an “acceptable bread list.” Basically, any bread-like carb is approvable. The approved bread-like carbs are funnel cakes, profiteroles, shaobing, and tortillas. In addition, some tuck crackers are stapled to a tree this morning with enough angles to assure nay-sayers that the post wasn’t photoshopped.

You’d think an offshoot joke subthread would have dwindled and ultimately faded away, but r/BreadStapledToTrees not only endures but thrives. It is a place akin to the turn of the century internet where silliness is the objective, laughter the currency, and whimsy the unifying theme.

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