This is a post about a Shiba Inu from Hong Kong named Balltze who is a superstar in Mexico, where he is known as Cheems. KnowYourMeme traces the birth of “Cheems” to r/dogelore, an American Reddit group focusing on dog memes, in June 2019. In his original incarnation, Cheems was a floating dog head that could only mispronounce the word “cheeseburger.”
The question of why he has become so famous in Mexico was not clear initially. My first thoughts went something like this:
- People like memes of dogs
- Cheems is lovably overweight
- There are some really great memes coming out of Mexico
After some cursory research, I found what might be the reason: the viral “Swole Doge vs. Cheems” meme format was born from a May 2020 post from Mexican meme page Doges artesanales. This readily adaptable format compares a muscular strong “doge” (dog) from a previous era with the weak “doge” of today. It has since spread around the world in multiple languages since it can be easily adapted to dream up new historical and political memes.
For example, in the meme above, “Swole doge” on the left is a 20th-century musician “a little tired” after an 8-month world tour and two days to record his new album while 21st-century Cheems on the right is complaining to his mom that his music software crashed again.
We could say that this was the moment Cheems finally “made it” in Mexico, but that wouldn’t necessarily be true. Doges artesanales has memes of Shiba Inus going back years. However, until Nov-Dec 2019, the main dog on the site is Kabosu, also known as the inspiration for Dogecoin. Below is a screenshot of the facebook page and the moment the first “Swole dog vs. Cheems” meme entered the world.
Cheems has become famous enough in Mexico to have spawned dozens, even hundreds of memes and even a handful of pandemic-era home businesses. The pun-based menus below are from a cheesecake bakery and a restaurant selling chilaquiles.
Cheems has even inspired artwork. it’s unknown where this mural below is painted though it’s by a Spanish-speaking artist.
Cheems had even been integrated with traditional Mexican holidays. Cempasúchil is the flower used during Day of the Dead celebrations.
I’m not really sure how to close out this post, so here’s a history of Mexico told through a Cheems meme: