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Tik Tok is Flipping Out for Fufu. How a West African Staple Went Viral

Although one can never predict what will mesmerize the Tik Tok universe, it has lately become obsessed with the West African dish of fufu.  Videos about fufu have surpassed 250 million views, and they represent a wide assortment of those trying the dish for the first time, veteran lovers of it, and those who feel they need to mock the rest. One of the most prominent fufu advocates on TikTok is Keith Atowo, a 24-year-old pharmacy student from Ypsilanti, Mich. He is most known for sharing videos of himself eating — and sometimes cooking — traditional West African dishes and has helped introduce fufu to scores of people. He has more than 260,000 followers and a no-frills approach to content creation — no soundtracks, special effects. When he’s hungry, he sits in front of his camera with dishes from Cameroon — he moved to the U.S. when he was 12 — and starts each video by describing what’s on his plate in his soothing voice. The rest of the clip consists of the sound of him quickly tearing through his plate and enjoying the dish. Atowo said some West Africans — upset by videos of people spitting out fufu — have criticized videos like his online for turning the meal into a viral challenge. He said his goal wasn’t to start a trend, but he sees the popularity of fufu as a chance to direct money to businesses in the U.S. and boost interest in travel to African countries.