This comic is formatted as a graph showing various Internet trends over the years according to Google Trends. The caption states that these "random obsessions," as stated in the title, have 9-10 year cycles, and so predicts that the sandwich debate will be over by around 2024.
Discussions about the definition of "sandwich" are surprisingly common on the web, such as "Is hot dog a sandwich?" (See this discussion on Reddit)
The title text is a joke based on the debate over the definition of a sandwich. The speaker, presumably Randall, starts out with the fairly reasonable stance that open-faced sandwiches are not true sandwiches, but then veers off into the absurd by claiming that literally every other physical object in the universe is a sandwich. We can only hope that Randall does not extend this view to human beings. (On the other hand, Randall may simply be defining a sandwich in an unusual way without implying that all other items are edible. Such strange definitions have been seen before, in the title text of 1405: Meteor.)
The other obsessions mentioned are, in order: robot monkeys, pirates vs ninjas, zombies, and bacon.
"Robot Monkeys" likely refers to people being obsessed with a movie or robots of some kind. It may specifically refer to the American/Japanese animated TV series, Super Robot Monkey Team Hyperforce Go!, which aired from September 18, 2004 to December 16, 2006. It is possible that, based on this, that the trend curve does not actually begin in 2001, but does actually begin in 2004 as shown.
"Pirates vs Ninjas" refers to a longstanding internet meme, popular in roughly the years shown on the chart, that held that ninjas and Caribbean pirates were arch-enemies.
"Zombies" refers to the recent occurrence of zombie themed television shows (The Walking Dead) and movies (World War Z etc).
Though the trend is dying out, as seen by the fact the graph is past the peak, there has been an explosion in bacon flavored/scented products as well as items of clothing and decor that look like bacon. The YouTube channel Epic Meal Time was also part of the bacon fad, as adding large quantities of bacon to the meal being prepared was one of the running gags of the channel.
- [The comic shows curves plotted in an (x,y)-plane. The x-axis shows years from 2004 to 2017, with every even year labeled. The y-axis is labeled "popularity relative to peak (based on google trends)". There are five vaguely bell-shaped curves, each stretching over 9-10 years. It is implied that they rise from a value close to zero, to which they also return.]
- The curve labeled "robot monkeys" peaks in early 2005 and ends near the x-axis in late 2011.
- The curve labeled "pirates vs ninjas" peaks in late 2008 and ends in late 2014.
- [The remaining three curves all end in mid 2017, the comic release date. ]
- The curve labeled "zombies" starts in late 2007 and peaks in early 2013. By 2017 it has fallen to about 30% of its peak value.
- The curve labeled "bacon" starts in late 2009 and peaks in mid-2015. By 2017 it shows a value of about 90% of its peak value.
- The curve labeled "definition of a sandwich" starts in late 2013 and in 2017 it has reached approximately half its peak value.
- [Text below the panel:]
- Judging from Google Trends, these random semi-ironic obsessions seem to last about nine or ten years, so we should be done with the sandwich thing by 2024.
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I feel like it's worth noting that the internet fixations mentioned on the chart - robot, monkeys, pirate, ninja, zombies, bacon - were all mentioned in #856 Trochee fixation https://xkcd.com/856/ and that sandwich is also a trochee. Necroleopard (talk) 20:01, 12 May 2017 (UTC)
I'm clearly behind on some things here. I know about all of these except "sandwiches" and "bacon". Djbrasier (talk) 04:51, 12 May 2017 (UTC)
- Some reference to a rise in "sandwich debate" online (Google trends or something) would be very helpful. Djbrasier (talk) 04:53, 12 May 2017 (UTC)
http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/is-a-hot-dog-a-sandwich is one of the threads of this meme but the meme does go further than just hotdogs --184.108.40.206 07:36, 12 May 2017 (UTC)
I added some description of the bacon fad, I wasn't sure if/where the Know Your Meme entry fits but here it is (http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/cultures/bacon) in case some other editor wants to put it in220.127.116.11 13:09, 12 May 2017 (UTC)
- Bacon is never a fad though. It has always been and will always be. OldCorps (talk) 16:30, 12 May 2017 (UTC)
- Yes, but as a common meme it was though. Though I remember it back in 2006 by 2010 it was already mainstream and fading.18.104.22.168 13:47, 15 May 2017 (UTC)
The current incomplete explanation asking about the bacon.... Are you kidding? This was the one I was most comfortable with! It's the quite current trend of singing the praises of bacon, memes shared around Facebook that say things like "Everything's better with bacon", "When in doubt, bacon", "Like if you love bacon, Comment if you love bacon, Share if you love bacon, ignore if you hate puppies". I even have a Facebook friend who put their middle name as "bacon", LOL! - NiceGuy1 22.214.171.124 21:42, 12 May 2017 (UTC) I finally signed up! This comment is mine. NiceGuy1 (talk) 05:57, 13 June 2017 (UTC)
- I added that tag. The question is what about bacon started to rise in 2010 and is peaking now? Djbrasier (talk) 02:24, 13 May 2017 (UTC)
- Here is the google trend for "Bacon": https://trends.google.com/trends/explore?date=all&q=bacon Jona (talk) 07:22, 13 May 2017 (UTC)
- Looking at the graph, there appears to be a regular uptick in December or January. Interesting. 126.96.36.199 22:27, 13 May 2017 (UTC)
- What started to rise? Ummmm, this stuff I already named. :) This graph is suggesting that Bacon memes, jokes, references, etc. started to rise in 2010. This being Google, it would probably mean people searching for these jokes and memes on Google, plus the people creating such things increasing the Google results. And thanks for the more specific answer, Jona, LOL! Even though my iPad is being a brat and won't show anything, the URL sounds quite the comprehensive answer, much better than anything I could say. - NiceGuy1 188.8.131.52 03:27, 26 May 2017 (UTC) Also mine! NiceGuy1 (talk) 05:57, 13 June 2017 (UTC)
I believe this comic might be talking about the Burger King commercials that set off Google Homes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U_O54le4__I -An anonymous person 184.108.40.206 12:51, 13 May 2017 (UTC)
- By that, I meant "What is the definition of a sandwich?" part. -Same anonymous guy 220.127.116.11 12:53, 13 May 2017 (UTC)
Why has nobody helping to edit these pages tried Googling a few key words? Nobody could figure out "robot monkeys;" I literally Googled the exact pair of words and limited the results to 2001 to 2011. It really does work. --OriginalName (talk) 03:51, 20 May 2017 (UTC)
I made the transcript complete by adding the caption and title text. --JayRulesXKCD what's up? 11:29, 23 May 2017 (UTC)
I fixed the article so it's not incomplete anymore, but it still says "The current incomplete explanation in the spotlight is 1835: Random Obsessions, please help us fix it", even thought I already fixed it. Is it something with the site? --JayRulesXKCD what's up? 22:03, 23 May 2017 (UTC)
- I was wondering this myself... Usually the comic chosen as the "Incomplete Explanation Of The Week" or whatever is one of the juggernauts I won't touch with a ten foot pole (other than some comments I've made which have clearly been lost in the flood, LOL!) but when I hit this one it seems complete, the tag is gone... IDK, maybe the site is programmed to pick a new one once a week or something, but it doesn't re-check to see if it's been completed in the meantime? - NiceGuy1 18.104.22.168 03:34, 26 May 2017 (UTC) I finally signed up! This comment is mine. NiceGuy1 (talk) 05:57, 13 June 2017 (UTC)
- I see. NiceGuy1 (talk) 05:57, 13 June 2017 (UTC)