Peepo, sometimes known as Pepo, is like a lot of Internet memes: not a lot of people know the name, but everyone recognizes it if they see it. Peepo was created inadvertently out of poorly-drawn versions of Pepe the Frog, a comic character from 2005 (and subsequently a popular meme in its own right). As more and more people attempted to recreate Pepe, the character became increasingly mangled, and Peepo was born. Nobody knows exactly when and where Peepo first appeared as its own entity, but sightings go back to at least 2017, but they could have come about earlier than that.
Here’s where it gets a little confusing: the image of Peepo is actually that of an earlier meme, Apu Apustaja, or Help Helper, that became popular (and was supposedly created) on the Finnish imageboard Ylilauta. This is simply the nature of Internet memes. They appear, they’re copied left and right, and variations – both subtle and major – propagate across the Internet. It makes their exact history hard to pin down, but that’s part of their appeal.
There are an estimated 2,800 different variations of Peepo on FrankerFaceZ, the popular Twitch enhancement suite. The different versions are used for different purposes, and among the earliest and most popular of them are pepoWant, peepoCheer, and widepeepoHappy. That last variation, widepeepoHappy, is used in over 32,000 sets of emotes. It also ranks number 30 out of the 100 FrankerFaceZ emotes used on Twitch. It’s seen over 16.1 million uses.
Once Peepo became popular with some of Twitch’s bigger streamers, the rest was history. They began using the character in emotes, which prompted their viewers to use the same emotes, and it spread like wildfire. In 2019, streamer Pokimane named a Minecraft chicken after Peepo, which immediately set her chat ablaze with users spamming the emote. The clip has since been viewed over 1.8 million times and shared 18,000 times.
Also in 2019, streamer Peter Park also received an onslaught of Peepo emotes, which led to him Tweeting “Peepo back at it again” along with the video of his stream. That same month, a Reddit user took the Hypers Peepo meme and created a collection of World of Warcraft-inspired takes on the character. The images are modeled after different Warcraft classes and were posted to the World of Warcraft subreddit.
Peepo’s not going anywhere. The name even has an Urban Dictionary entry that reads:
“The green frog meme, it’s peepo, not Pepe.”
Eventually, the lovable, if not entirely beautiful, cartoon frog became something of a de-facto mascot in the eyes of many Twitch users. The character also stands as a great example of unprompted Internet collaboration that results in a beloved icon with no clear chain of ownership. Peepo is a direct child of the Internet and brings with it all the weirdness that entails. The character has also quickly secured his place in Internet history, becoming an instantly recognizable symbol to millions of people around the globe.
Written by Anna Divya Benjamin