When Texas-based TikToker John Michael Race decided to film his first encounter with boba – or, as he calls it, “bawbuh” – he probably didn’t expect to become a viral hit.
On 30 April, Race, under the TikTok handle ‘johnmichaelsayshi’, excitedly shared his first ever boba tea with his viewers. “I think they’re meant to dissolve,” he said, awkwardly shaking the boba balls in his drink. This was his first mistake.
Unfortunately, what John didn’t anticipate was a rogue boba ball coming back with a vengeance. As he started to choke, a fountain of boba tea sprayed his car. “Oh my God, I choked on something!” he screamed. “My car!”
you’re supposed to chew apparently
With the TikTok amassing 5.5 million views overnight, users seemed enchanted by the sheer chaos of the video. As well as pointing out Race’s unique pronunciation of boba (which he refers to as “bawbuhs”), TikTokers couldn’t get over how John was surprised that he choked. In one comment that got 116k likes, TikTok user Arianna Stemp quipped: “I choked on something! Like it’s a mystery.”
However, Race’s boba-related impact wasn’t limited to TikTok. The video quickly spread to Twitter, where it amassed over 3 million views and even caught the attention of Glee star, Jane Lynch.
Of course, with Twitter being Twitter, it wasn’t long before John found himself being turned into a meme, with Twitter users turning his experience into a dramatic musical remix and even editing the video in time to Britney Spears’ ‘Gimme More’ music video.
lol has anyone done this yet? pic.twitter.com/9OMLHPpNIg
— Joe Hackman (@joethehack) May 1, 2021
OK I’ll do the thing pic.twitter.com/PRW7KSGepT
— Tommie Dearest (@IAmThomasKrause) April 30, 2021
It looks like Race has responded to his new-found internet fame with good faith, as he dutifully filmed his second round with boba tea on 1 May. This time, he emerged victorious.
Remarking that there was “no mess” this time round, John reminded viewers of a lesson he unfortunately learned the hard way: “chew and swallow.”