Dec 1, 2021 - News

Kyle Scheele's TikTok prank stirs up drama for star and Kum & Go

A screenshot of the Kyle Scheele Meale

A screenshot of an ad for the "Kyle Scheele Meale" from Kum & Go. Screenshot via Instagram

Buckle in for a weird "only in 2021" story, folks. It involves Kum & Go, a TikTok star, and some Gen Zers who feel betrayed by them all.

Where our story begins: Meet Kyle Scheele. A fun-loving TikTok creator who's known for his wholesome jokes that entertain his 3 million+ followers.

  • A few weeks ago, he shared his latest prank: Leaving a larger-than-life cardboard cutout of himself, advertising the "Kyle Scheele Meal," in the middle of an unknowing Kum & Go store.

The result: The TikTok went beyond viral — 28+ million views and counting.

  • People stood in line to take pictures of themselves with the fake ad. Some asked confused store employees if they could order the Kyle Scheele Meal.
  • The internet demanded the meal become a real thing, with brands like TikTok and the Dallas Cowboys jumping on board.
A screenshot of the Kyle Scheele Meal cardboard cutout.
A screenshot of the TikTok featuring the Kyle Scheele Meal ad. Screenshot via @kylescheele

So it did. Kum & Go launched the limited time only "Kyle Scheele Meale" and made it into a charitable cause. For $5, people could buy two pizza slices and a Red Bull with $2 going towards No Kid Hungry, a childhood hunger relief nonprofit.

  • It was an instant success with Scheele even launching Kum & Go x Kyle Scheele merch to help boost the cause.

So what happened? Things took a turn following a story in Adweek, where both Scheele and Kum & Go officials shared that the viral prank wasn't as spur-of-the-moment as people first believed.

  • "What many didn't know, however, is that the entire concept was actually a campaign orchestrated by Kum & Go and Scheele to promote the brand's own version of a purpose-driven celebrity meal," according to the article.

Cue in: A swath of disappointed Scheele fans who said they felt tricked by the seemingly grassroots prank.

A tweet sad about the Kyle Scheele marketing ploy
Screenshot of @despressoshots' Twitter feed
Kyle Scheele meal sad tweet
Screenshot of @NplusK_'s Twitter feed

Scheele ultimately released an apology TikTok on Monday, saying that while the prank itself was organic, Kum & Go did know he was planning on doing something.

  • But the excitement, momentum and charitable efforts were all real, he said.

The bottom line: Kum & Go officials said they didn't have anything to add.

  • The convenience store chain is donating $10K to No Kid Hungry.

Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Des Moines.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Des Moines stories

No stories could be found

Des Moinespostcard

Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Des Moines.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more