Tag Archives: quarantine

Dalgona Coffee

The interlocutor (EF) was living at home with her parents for the first part of COVID lockdowns. During the first few months, she took part in a popular TikTok trend of making “Dalgona Coffee,” a drink that originates from South Korea.

DESCRIPTION: (told over the phone)
(EF): “Okay, so at the start of quarantine, there was this TikTok trend, yeah? It was like… the dalgona coffee challenge, where basically, you would try and make this coffee. And everyone was doing it! It was like this huge thing on TikTok where everyone was making little aesthetic videos of them making whipped coffee and so I had to do it. So I made it once and I swear I made it again and again during quarantine until I realized, why the fuck am I spending so much time whipping coffee? So then I stopped.

Anyway, it’s two tablespoons of instant coffee, two tablespoons of like, granulated sugar, and two tablespoons of hot water. You, like, mix it together with a whisk and you mix, mix, mix until it turns into, like, a nice light brown and it’s like fluffy, like whipped cream. Then you spoon that stuff on top of a glass of cold milk and drink!

It’s kinda like a latte, I guess? I don’t know. It’s a lot of work, whipping the coffee.”

Around this time last year, I distinctly remember calling EF, along with other friends, over FaceTime or Zoom and seeing her drink this beverage. I also recall seeing this trend all over my own TikTok feed as well. It’s fascinating when you take a step back and consider how this South Korean coffee trend kind of blew up thanks to the widespread and global reach of the internet. I feel like Dalgona coffee is something so simple and easy to make, which only contributed to its popularity and mass consumption by people online. I think people also wanted to regains some semblance of socializing in a coffee shop setting, and by making Dalgona coffee, it was like recreating that kind of pre-COVID social environment.

Baking Challah and Learning New Bread Recipes During Quarantine

The speaker would bake bread and then leave it uncovered in the apartment’s shared kitchen area. Slowly, bits of Challah would disappear from the loaf.

My friend baked a lot of bread after the USC autumn semester ended, and the kitchen filled with bagels, pretzels, pizza, focaccia and Challah. I especially liked the Challah, which maintained a doughy taste after baking. I liked the bread because it was dense. My friend topped his Challah with salt, poppy seeds and sesame seeds. He has made Challah three times so far, and every time the braided bread recipe tastes different.


The speaker first started baking Challah because he liked how it looked, and he was high the first time he made the recipe. Challah is a Jewish bread, but the speaker does not come from a Jewish heritage. “I’m not Jewish at all. I went to… 15 years of Catholic school. People always mistake me for being Jewish. On the street in New York City.  Because, I don’t know. I’m kind of like a curly haired kid. I think that’s part of it. But also my high school is next door to like, a bunch of like, Jewish, like elementary and middle schools. There were a lot of like, you know, like practicing Jewish people around that area.”

The speaker went to a Jesuit high school and a Franciscan elementary school. He lived in a community with Dominican friars, but his father is Italian. His mother is half-Irish, He uses a scale to measure ingredients and called Challah a ‘crowd favorite.’ He enjoys learning about folklore and he researched Challah when he first made the bread.

“Turns out you’re supposed to take a little chunk of it and wrap it in tinfoil and just like scorch it. And be like, say ‘this is Challah.’ But in Hebrew culture you’re like, sacrificing a piece sort of. I feel like it’s a little bit like, kinda like pagan. Like, sacrifice. But like yeah, you don’t eat that piece. You burn it until it’s nothing.”

This speaker makes a lot of baked goods at the apartment, including edibles. He sometimes sells his edibles, but he never sold Challah. Over time, he learned to hide the Challah so that tenants did not eat the bread. One time he made the bread so that it was too dense, and fewer tenants ate that particular Challah.


I know that the speaker did not like that tenants took his Challah, but I really enjoyed eating this bread, even if I knew it wasn’t mine. When he made the third loaf, I began to leave fruit or other offerings in exchange for the bread I had taken. Even though other people baked food for the apartment, these dishes were usually made for a birthday or special occasion. Challah was made whenever. The speaker did not need an excuse to bake this braided Jewish bread.

I could tell that the speaker was proud of his work. He and others would sometimes ask me to watch over their bread so that no one else would steal it. I would tell them not to trust me- but I’m glad that they asked me to be their bread guardian in any case.

This is similar to the description of Ethnic Groups in chapter 2 of Folk Groups & Folklore Genres by Elliot Oring. In this chapter, the author mentions that some young adults of Jewish heritage make Cholent because it is convenient, not because they observe the Sabbath meal. While this speaker does not share Jewish heritage, he takes part in Jewish traditions via recipes found on the internet.

Coronavirus Warnings

“Please be advised, within 48 to 72 Hours the president will evoke what is called the Stafford Act. Just got off the phone with some of my military friends down in DC who just got out of a two hour briefing. The president will order a two week mandatory quarantine for the nation. Stock up on whatever you guys need to make sure you have a two week supply of everything. Please forward to your families”

There is a current phenomenon happening that is based on fear around the coronavirus. The informant has received multiple messages such as the one stated above. Of course, there is no real two-week mandatory quarantine invoked by the Stafford Act, which is not what that is. The informant received this from friends and was unsure of where it originated from. They were not sure how to respond to it and it ended up just being a hoax. The purpose of this was unstated because the person that wrote this clearly knew this wasn’t going to happen. It was quite memorable because it obviously wants to stir up drama and fear in the American public.

This exact verbiage was found all over the country. All sorts of messages like these contain a reference to a third party, “a friend of a friend”, that claims to have inside information on the situation at hand. They could be considered rumors, which is a type of folk information, possibly a legend.

Car “Breeds” are Just as Important as Animal Breeds

Main story: 

With the current 2020 outbreak of COVID-19, veterinary technicians (hereby referred to as vet techs) are still slated to go to work as animal care is finally looked at as essential by most all of the U.S. However, nobody outside of the people who work in the clinics are allowed into the clinic. Vet techs are doing patient intakes over the phone and then asking the owner of the patient what car they are in so when they exit the clinic to the parking lot to get the animal to be taken inside and treated they know which car to go to. Because of this, vet techs are also having to learn what different car makes and models actually look like on top of everything else. So this meme is relatable across all veterinary clinics as this is the standardized procedure. But the other joke in the meme is the reference to car models as “breeds”, obviously dogs and cats and horses have breeds within their species that vet techs all know. And now they are having to memorize a whole other form of breed. 


The informant who made the meme is a veterinary technician. They are almost attacked by animals every day they go to work. However, no matter how crazy it gets with the animals, they maintain they could not imagine any other job. 


The informant is a coworker of mine, I am also a vet tech. They sent the meme in our clinic’s group chat. 

My thoughts: 

I found this very funny and highly relatable. As a vet tech myself, I find myself on the phone with clients and asking them what car they are in and only half of the time actually knowing what their car looks like. The other half of the time I am googling on the computer on my way out their car make and memorizing it quickly so I do not look completely out of touch and incompetent when I walk outside looking for the owner’s car.

Quarantine Meme: Hand Sanitizer

Main Piece:

Background: The informant and group of students in the chat respond and understand this piece because of its relevance. The young students feel a connection to the importance of hand sanitizer and also identify with the apple product AirPods. AirPods were an important new product circulating in 2019 which many students identify with. The meme pokes fun at the new best product of 2020 being hand sanitizer due to the coronavirus. 

Context: This meme circulated through a group of college students group chat in early April 2020. The students were all around 20 years old. 

Thoughts: This meme is interesting because it comments on the relevance of commercial products in folk culture. Social groups hold brand loyalty and identity with certain products and therefore those products are apart of their folk identity. In 2019 groups attached their identity to the new Apple AirPods. This brand loyalty is compared to the new identification with the hand sanitizer product due to Coronavirus. Now people everywhere identify with the hand sanitizer product and always have it by their side or attached to their belts. This commercially produced product has increased meaning to culture.