Eggo’s “Stranger Things” Fame Has Become Its Downfall

Peak internet fame is a waffly bad time to have a listeria recall and Snapchat filter

Photo Illustration: Diana Quach
Sep 20, 2016 at 5:27 PM ET

10,000 cases of Eggo Nutri-Grain Whole Wheat Waffles were recalled on Tuesday due to possible listeria contamination, turning the brand’s recent windfall of internet-related food nostalgia fame against it.

It’s been a pretty good summer for the brand, owned by Kellogg, which has basked in the reflected glow of mega-popular Netflix series “Stranger Things.” For those who haven’t been watching the 80s nostalgiafest, Eleven, a child victim of a government mind-control program, has a fondness for Eggo waffles, a breakfast treat she was likely deprived of in her laboratory upbringing. She’ll even eat ’em untoasted, because she’s that hardcore.

The quirky character’s food-crush gave rise to fan theories that Eggo waffles are the best breakfast food, a whole bunch of fan art, and memes galore. In an interview with Bon Appétit magazine, actress Millie Brown estimated that she had to munch on 15-20 waffles, noting, “I love the brand. I think we might have actually brought them back a little too.” Like any social media-savvy brand would, Eggo was quick to capitalize on the internet’s “Stranger Things” lovefest, taking special care to include Eleven in its National Waffle Day celebration.

But it’s a double-edged sword. Since “Stranger Things” first debuted on Netflix, roughly 26 percent of Eggo’s Twitter mentions have also contained explicit references to the show. Now that Eggo is in hot water over its recall of approximately 10,000 cases of waffles in 25 states, the brand is getting more attention than ever.

While it’s only to be expected that concerned consumers and news outlets are “@-ing” the waffle brand in light of this news, much of the social media chatter revolves — unsurprisingly — around “Stranger Things” references.

Of the 12,000-plus tweets directed at Eggo on Tuesday that caused the brand to trend on Twitter, nearly 20 percent specifically mentioned Eleven or “Stranger Things,” and likely several more included more subtle or meme-related content. (This despite the fact that Eleven ate original flavor Eggo waffles, not Nutri-Grain.)

In an amazing piece of poor timing for Eggo, Snapchat also decided to launch a filter resembling a waffle on the same day as the listeria revelations. Vocativ reached out to the app for comment on whether or not the filter’s appearance was “Stranger Things” and/or listeria-related, but as of right now, it seems that this is just a happy coincidence.