On December 24 2020, “Twisted Tea” became a popular trending term in the wake of footage showing an altercation at an Ohio Circle-K.
Footage of the incident, which involved racial slurs and a can of Twisted Tea, was shared to r/PublicFreakout alongside a concise but comprehensive title — “Drunk guy yells N Word and gets SMACKED with Twisted Tea Can”:
On Twitter, a clip of the same dispute shared on the same date was viewed more than 1.6 million times between December 24 and 28 2020:
JeeeeeeZUS LMAOOOOOOOOOOOO pic.twitter.com/2P76jlT0sf
— Terence (@terencessb) December 24, 2020
The video, which was just under two minutes long, was evidently filmed by a third customer. It opened with a white man at the register already loudly addressing the black man behind him in line and peppering him with racist epithets at a Circle-K store in Elyria, Ohio.
Another popular iteration was shared on YouTube on December 24 2020, with a far more vague title — “Smacked with can LMAO!!” A popular comment on that version praised the off-camera narrator’s ability to capture the entire altercation:
That girl with that camerawork is the real MVP. Caught everything without even shaking the camera a little bit.
A second commenter commended the man wielding the beverage for his restraint:
What’s crazy is the black dude gave him a lot of chances, had a lot of patience, and even let him off really easy. Much respect for his self-control.
And a third posited that the man smacked with the can of Twisted Tea had spent too much time using racist language on the internet and had therefore forgotten that real-life racist interactions carry a not-inconsequential risk of being smacked across the face:
People are forgetting that you can’t talk to people face to face the same way they do online. He literally opened a can of whoop ass
A separate December 24 2020 YouTube upload was viewed more than 2.4 million times in four days. It bore a far more descriptive title, “Racist Drunk Karen guy yells N Word and gets SMACKED with Twisted Tea Can,” and featured the following description:
Racist Drunk Karen guy yells N Word and gets SMACKED with Twisted Tea Can
This is just what happened at Circle K on East Broad Street in Elyria I cannot believe it
public freak-out, instant karma, justice served
In a December 28 2020 post, Heavy.com noted that the unidentified white man repeatedly used the n-word in reference to the black man in line behind him before urging the other customer to “smack” him:
The video shows the man, who is not wearing a mask, waiting in line to buy beer at the Cleveland-area Circle K while talking and using the racial slur. A Black man standing behind him in the line, holding a can of Twisted Tea hard iced tea that he planned to purchase, confronts him. After the white man tells the Black man, “smack me with it,” the Black man does just that, hitting him across the face and knocking him to the ground. After the man gets back up, the video shows him charging at the man who hit him, but the man tackles him down to the ground and punches him several times.
KnowYourMeme developed an entry for the rapidly spreading Twisted Tea “freakout,” titled “Circle K Twisted Tea Fight” and initiated on December 28 2020. Contributors at KnowYourMeme said while the original uploader remained unidentified, they were able to trace the clip’s voyage across social media:
On December 24th, 2020, at 2:02 AM, terencessb tweeted the video under the caption, “JeeeeeeZUS LMAOOOOOOOOOOOO,” garnering over 1.6 million views and 41,000 likes in 4 days (shown below, left). Although this is the earliest upload of the video, terencessb is not the one who filmed it, which he clarifies in a comment under the original tweet, saying: “Hi! Couple things 1. This is NOT my video lmao I’m just simply sharing it to spread the joy of seeing a racist get his shit cooked 2. Just stop saying [n****] if you’re not black LMFAO it’s literally not hard at all.” It is currently unknown who originally filmed the video.
Under “Developments,” the entry included comments from individuals who claimed to know the white man in the video:
At 9:53 AM on December 24th, BluSznTTV tweeted a comment under terencessb’s video saying, “I’m like 100% positive I went to school with the white kid. He used to act the same way and looks the same. If it ain’t him then he’s got a twin.” He commented again with a photograph of the suspected person (shown below). On December 25th , Elyria Chronicle-Telegram published a story detailing the incident, in which they claim the fight was never reported to the police. On December 26th , over_boiled tweeted a selfie from the Circle K in Elyria with the man who did the smacking, garnering over 450 likes and 50 retweets in 2 days[.]
As noted in the entry, a local news organization (the Elyria Chronicle-Telegram) covered the nationally trending altercation in an article (“Viral video shows fight allegedly in Elyria convenience store”) published on December 25 2020. The story indicated that local law enforcement was aware of the incident:
Elyria police Lt. James Welsh said he has seen the video and has an idea of who the involved parties are, but no charges had been filed related to the incident as of Thursday afternoon and Welsh said no one involved has come forward to report it.
”It has obviously gone viral on the internet, but to my knowledge it was never called in or reported,” Welsh said.
In the comment section of the r/PublicFreakout thread, u/greasypizzabox responded, addressing the apparent lack of police involvement:
Lol honestly this was wholesome af compared to a lot of the n-word fights we see on this sub. He took a licking and backed off, and no cops called!
A December 26 2020 tweet purportedly showed the tea-wielder with someone unrelated to the incident:
— BoiledOver (@over_boiled) December 27, 2020
Creative remixes and parodies soon emerged. On December 24 2020, one user mashed up the fight footage and a Twisted Tea commercial.
Footage of the Twisted Tea Circle K fight in Elyria, Ohio went viral on or about December 24 2020, the earliest upload of which appeared to be a tweet by Twitter user @terencessb at 2:02 AM on that date. However, @terencessb later clarified he did not film the altercation, and the original uploader has not been identified. On December 25 2020, a police lieutenant in Elyria confirmed that the department had seen the clip and had an idea of who the parties involved were, adding that they did not believe the fight had been reported. We were unable to find any indication either of the men involved had been identified other than speculation on Twitter. Circle K did not appear to address the incident on Twitter or Facebook.