The Real Story Behind TikTok’s Dancing Llama
There are many sides to TikTok: straight TikTok, alt TikTok, messy TikTok, etc. But at one point or another, you’ve probably found yourself on dancing llama TikTok. At least, if you’re one of the over 144 million users who stumbled upon a video of a 3D cartoon llama dancing to a song of unknown origins. “Mi pan su su sum,” the audio trills, lodging itself deep in the crevices of your brain and hanging out there while you try to complete normal tasks like doing the laundry or showering or, say, writing an article. It's close to being the top audio on TikTok this summer. The video has been mystifying users, not just because it doesn’t seem to be in any discernible language, but also because they just can’t stop watching it.
“How does this have 4 million likes,” one person asked.
“Why does this have 5.7 million likes???” another asked a day later.
“How does this have 7.1 million likes?” reads a comment from just a few hours after.
“I don’t really know why it’s so viral,” Yosa, a TikTok user from Mexico who posted the addicting clip and who I reached over Instagram, explains. “I think the song is so sticky.” (Yosa speaks Spanish; a friend helped translate.)
Mi😳pan🧟♀️su😎su🥳sum😡su👺su☠️su🤒mi😈pan💩yakakus🤖ñam👄ñam🙇🏼ñam♬ THIS SONG ISNTT ABOUT BREAD Stop mipansusus - itzmilpops
The song first made an appearance on a TikTok video posted by user @isterrrrika and immediately went viral. While the clip of the llama had been sent to Yosa by a friend a few months ago, the song has had a slightly more complicated journey. Yosa explained that it comes from a Russian commercial for Honey Pops cereal, “Miel Pops” in Russia. Specifically, though, according to Reddit user u/UserMaatRe, it’s a spoof of misheard lyrics from the commercial, which vaguely resemble Spanish and therefore gained traction in the Spanish-speaking internet community. The original lyrics translate to "Miel Pops, buzz buzz buzz, Miel Pops, oh how tasty, nom nom nom." The new lyrics? Anyone’s guess.
Mi pan su su sum
Su su su
Mi pan yakakus
Ñam ñam ñam
Su su su su su su sum
A common misconception is that the lyrics are about bread (“pan” is Spanish for bread). Itzmilpops, the creator behind the original audio, quickly renamed the sound to “THIS SONG ISNTT ABOUT BREAD Stop” to set the record straight. The song, in short, isn’t about anything. The lyrics are about as explainable as the dancing llama itself, and while this kind of confusion may seem apt for 2020, it actually harkens back to a much simpler time.
When a video goes viral now, some pretty predictable questions follow: What is this? Who made it? And would they now like a show on Quibi? But before the internet was an influencer playground, it was a dumping area for weird, bizarre content that seemed to come from nowhere, mean nothing— and become beloved for exactly what it is (or, perhaps, is not).
I’d like to welcome dancing llama to the club. Mi pan su su sum.