TikTok Hacks Might Work, But They're Still Annoying

These foods were never "supposed" to be eaten that way, my guy.

"TikTok hacks" is a phrase that always manages to make me feel gaslit. You know the type: the videos that insinuate a given product was "always" "supposed" to be used a certain way that none of us have ever actually witnessed before. Whenever possible I try the so-called hack for myself, just so I can test the validity of its claim. When they work (which, having made it to my FYP, they often do), I'm pretty angry. How dare the internet be correct?

Still, useful or not, TikTok hacks are pretty annoying; a whole bunch of creators, and even the brands themselves, are gaining social clout by mischaracterizing a jumble of random tricks as intentional design elements. Let's take a look at a few offenders, shall we?

TikTok’s popcorn lie

My rage was fully ignited by a hack involving microwave popcorn, my favorite nighttime snack and occasional depression dinner. In 2021, user @sidneyraz (4.3 million followers) went viral for a video depicting how you're "supposed to shake out the popcorn kernels that haven't popped." The user makes microwave popcorn, then shakes the bag upside down over a bowl so that the unpopped kernels fall through the open slit on the opposite end, implying that this is what the slit is there for in the first place.

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"Here's something I wish I knew before I was in my thirties," @sidneyraz says with a tone of exasperation, as if this popcorn trick is something every adult ought to know.

The thing is, what I thought everyone knew, and what I still believe everyone knows, is that the opening in the popcorn bag is to vent steam so the bag doesn't explode when you're popping it and so you don't horribly burn yourself when you tear open the bag.

I called Orville Redenbacher's customer service line to get to the bottom of this. The wait was too long for my attention span, so I emailed instead. Conagra Brands, which oversees Orville, emailed me back in under 24 hours with a detailed form letter containing the instructions on how to make microwave popcorn.

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I responded that Conagra didn't answer my question re: the kernels. A day later, the company wrote back, "We encourage our consumers to enjoy our popcorn either directly from the bag or poured out into a bowl. If you prefer to, you may shake unpopped kernels from the bag prior to consumption."

Confirmed: You may use the kernel release method, which the company says is fine and (presumably) will work. But in no way are you "supposed to" do this with your popcorn. (If so, it would have appeared on the startlingly detailed how-to document.)

Other TikTok hack conspiracies

It's not just Big Corn and its devotees that are trying to pull one over on us. Ritz recently attempted to break the internet by trying to convince us the crackers are "shaped like that" so that you can cut cheese slices with their scalloped edges. Cheese slicing is, Ritz claims, what the scallops are "actually for." The video has more than half a million views, but think about it for two seconds: We all know a Ritz cracker will crumble when set against anything harder than American cheese left in the sun.

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Sometimes it seems like the hacks are designed purely to spread chaos. Take this trick involving how to open a box of Tic Tac mints. Countless videos lament the problem of always getting too many Tic Tacs from the container with each shake, and the delightfully simple hack involves opening the box upside down so that only one candy slides out onto the pill-shaped groove in the underside of the lid.

I promise you, even if it works for those lucky few, you do not have the technique for this. You will spill the entire container all over yourself, and you will have to put them back into the container one by one before they get orange or green dye all over your hands. Hardly revelatory.

TikTok, like the rest of the internet before it, is rife with people eager to tell us how to open a packet of spaghetti or more safely operate a can opener. That's all well and good, but it's within my rights to resent these "hacks" for their insinuation that I can't simply do things my way, and that I should be kicking myself for not doing things as I was "supposed" to be doing them all along.

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