We weren't kidding.
There have always been fake profiles on dating sites and apps. There’s the familiar bunch who pretend to be people that they perceive as more attractive than themselves, but on Tinder there’s a group of users whose charade is much more peculiar: they choose to personify food.
From pizza to cupcakes to ice cream, there’s a whole host of Tinder users swiping while hiding behind a handful of junk food stock photos. It’s a weird way for a user to gain a little more control over Tinder than everyone else. While the rest of us are expected to put ourselves out there, the pizza faces of Tinder get to purvey the crowd while enjoying anonymity themselves.
One night while swiping, I came across EverythingBagel, a 24-year-old Tinder user, and swiped right. Over the course of the last several weeks, we talked, and I was able to get a small slice of insight into the weird world of food Tinder.
I promised to keep Bagelman’s identity anonymous for this story, but I can verify that he’s a 25-year-old college-educated white dude who works as a graphic designer. He told me that while he is single in his real life, he doesn’t have a separate dating account featuring pictures of himself.
Bagelman also told me that he has had his persona for over a year, collecting more than 1000 matches. He’s expanded to other sites, including Bumble, where he ran into trouble for using a copyrighted everything bagel picture. “The man can’t stop me tho,” he told me.
Here’s a Q&A with the EverythingBagel himself, edited for clarity:
MOTHERBOARD: Why have you let this go on for so long? What keeps you swiping as a bagel?
Everything Bagel: I’ve let it go on for so long because it’s really entertaining to see how other people react to this type of thing. It's really interesting and funny to me and my friends as well and I kind of just want to see how far I can take it.
Have you ever talked to someone on the app that you were interested in romantically? Were you ever tempted to reveal your identity?
Thats an interesting question. Like, can anyone say that they have been “romantically” interested in someone through a cell phone app without actually meeting them? As far as physical attraction goes, sure, but even that is just looking at a picture. I’ve revealed my identity enough times to count on one hand, but usually because someone is making me laugh and they are interested to see who I am, so why not?
You started the conversation with me. What makes you start chatting to people? Why are you compelled to?
I started the conversation with you, did I? I was actually involved in some heavy binge drinking that entire weekend and to be honest don’t remember most of our initial conversation, but I know that we held a pretty interesting one, hence why I’m talking to you right now. Sometimes when I’m drunk or bored or a combination of both I’ll just start messaging people or let my friends message people.
Do you ever break character? Or are you always chatting as the bagel?
I always start out chatting as the bagel and usually try to ride that out, but some people message me and right away speak to me as the “person who has an account as a bagel” and ask me questions, so in that case it would be pretty weird (if I even answer) if I tried to hold character as a bagel. I don’t have any rules I just kind of see what happens. It’s just a joke to me really.
How long will you keep being a bagel for? Would you ever make a real dating profile?
I mean probably not, but even if i wanted to meet someone from the internet I feel like I probably have a better chance as the bagel. It breaks the ice itself.