COLUMN: Waffler69’s tragic passing is a reminder of our bizarre entertainment culture


Dan Hahn

Dan Hahn is a graduate student studying English and can be reached at 217-581-2812.

Dan Hahn, Columnist

As an older millennial, I still think it’s strange to get news on TikTok, and I was shocked after learning of the recent passing of waffler69.

I took to Google to try and verify what I saw, and news outlets around the web confirmed his untimely passing.

For those that may not know, TMZ sums waffler69 TikTok career nicely, and says that he was famous “for eating a ton of wild and nostalgic food — often putting the meals on top of a random VHS tape for an extra dose of nostalgia. He’s chowed down on everything from massive fruit loops to octopus spaghetti.”

Waffler69’s real name is Taylor LeJeune and his brother Clayton Claydorm verified that the TikToker died of a “presumed heart attack.”

The beloved TikTok star, dead at 33 years old, had a fanbase of close to two million followers.

From what I’m learning about him, he was a kind and generous person that engaged regularly with his community of fans.

I wasn’t a huge fan, since the genre of food he was known for was not something I cared for specifically.

I also don’t find watching people eat outrageous food terribly entertaining, but he had a memorable face and was jovial, upbeat, and positive, so I couldn’t help but be drawn in by his content every so often.

It’s interesting to learn that Taylor had an intuition for self-promotion as well as possessed innate media savvy.

For example, he had his own brand of food seasoning and sold T-shirts on his website.

Media, and social media especially, has a way of rewarding people who have a positive attitude and understand fundamentals of self-promotion.

I’m not sure it’s fair to say that waffler69 was your everyday Joe, but he was extraordinary in that he commanded a large following and was beloved by many.

To die from a heart attack at such a young age is tragic.

It’s a scary world we live in when cardiac arrest seems to be in the news as frequently as it has been.

When Buffalo Bills player Damar Hamlin collapsed during a nationally broadcasted NFL game, it captured our collective attention.

The nation paused and there were many people reflecting on the nature of our fascination with violent sports and the casualties they cause during and after a career as a professional athlete.

I heard people make remarks on the progress that’s been made to protect players on the field.

Taylor LeJeune wasn’t an athlete, but he was a professional performer that ate bizarre foods for entertainment.

I admit I was attracted by his charisma, and I’m sure I’m not alone when I take guilty pleasure from watching people eat foods I wouldn’t touch in a million years.

I’ve seen a lot of people eat a lot of food I wouldn’t dare to. Just like daredevils attempt dangerous stunts, eating “stunt food” has its own risks and dangers.

Obesity, heart disease, and diabetes are chronic illnesses that have become common in today’s environment. Our food and entertainment culture makes it acceptable to make bad eating choices entertaining.

I think there is definitely a conversation to be had regarding our fascination for these bizarre foods and the people that consume them for entertainment.

Many do not achieve internet stardom for making boring, healthy food choices. Bizarre and unhealthy eating choices, on the other hand, fascinate us for better and for worse.

Eating bizarre food in an entertaining way does have consequences beyond what is broadcast to our screens, and it is not right to carry on without recognizing this.

Dan Hahn is an English composition/rhetoric student. He can be reached at [email protected] or 217-581-2812.