This Is the Secret Power at the End of the Internet

TIME

Tom Hanks is clutching a giant banana, and he looks a bit perplexed, annoyed even. It’s clear it wasn’t his idea to brandish this fruit in the middle of a bar and put a photo of the scene on the Internet. It must have been the guy with the broad grin right next to him, a Reddit user who goes by the name ASharkToof. “Explaining the banana to him was pretty awkward,” he explained in the caption for the photo, “but banana for scale.”

The odd image generated nearly 2,000 up votes on Reddit, the popular online message board, and helped popularize the nascent meme of using bananas as a makeshift measuring tool. But the photo’s story didn’t really begin on Reddit. It started on Imgur, the five-year-old photo-hosting site from which a huge proportion of visually viral things now come.

In the dial-up days of the Internet, people were…

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