On June 10 2021, an image purportedly showing white bell peppers, part of a tweet, and a response comparing them to teeth was
In the image, the first user’s handle is cropped out, and they asked if anyone had ever seen white bell peppers. In response, @mtlnd observed that the image resembled the “tooth [fairy’s] stash” of teeth.
We located the cropped-out tweet, shared by @AmanaFreedman on November 16 2020:
On the same date (four hours earlier), user @jasondingr shared the same image. It was labeled “White cloud bell peppers with tomatoes,” and was first crawled on November 18 2020. As such, that tweet was likely the first iteration of the white bell peppers image (but far from the last):
Of note is the composition of the image shared in the first tweet on November 16 2020, and the subsequent association between white bell peppers and teeth. Originally, the first sharer described “white cloud bell peppers with tomatoes,” a juxtaposition that contrasted the stark color of the peppers with a gums-like smattering of bright red tomatoes — evoking a strong (and horrible) visual association with a pile of newly extracted teeth.
A search for “white bell pepper teeth” restricted to results published or dated prior to October 1 2020 did not return any comparisons between white bell peppers and teeth. The only relevant results returned in that search were shared after the November 16 2020 tweet:
A search without the date restriction demonstrated how the viral image impacted Google results for “white bell pepper”:
Overall, white bell peppers appeared to be both real and obscure, as evidenced by documentation of their existence prior to the “teeth” picture. Seed retailers tended to depict them as more of a pale greenish-yellow, reflecting the same in descriptions:
The White Bell Pepper is a translucent white to pale yellow colored bell pepper with a crisp, sweet flavor. This pepper variety produces an abundance of white bell fruits. These peppers turn from translucent to pale yellow when mature. The White Bell is a great addition to any salad or meal.
White bell peppers appeared to be a fairly obscure but documented variety of bell peppers listed among available seed varieties (albeit usually less toothesque and in less stark expression of whiteness). In November 2020, a Twitter account posted an image of a white bell pepper and tomato salad, and that image was shared in a same-day tweet from another user with broader engagement. From there, that specific image of white bell peppers was widely shared and compared to teeth — but photographs before that tweet appeared were much less dramatic.