It all started in mayjailer’s post, ONTD Original: Where Are They Now? (ONTD Tags Edition), when elderpricely lamented the apparent loss of the “Ben Barnes” tag, to which I replied with what I thought would be a throwaway joke.
But then irajaxon asked a question I had never even thought to consider. What is the origin of Bin Bons? I knew we had been reveling in that nickname for at least a decade, but had no idea where it came from. And so began this truly ridiculous amount of research.
Join me for a deep dive into fandoms, late 2000s ONTD, stan culture, and best of all, a surprising amount of overlap with Twilight.
Who is Ben Barnes?
Ben Barnes is a British actor and, as I learned, singer
It seems Barnes doesn’t know about, or at least has not commented upon, the Bin Bons nickname. This is in contrast to fellow former teen heartthrob Robert Pattinson, who stated in 2013 he “would like to strangle the guy who came up with [RPattz].”
This neither here nor there, but I also found that he used to be in a boy band called Hyrise, who competed to be the British selection for Eurovision 2004. Bin Bons starts at 00:28, but the whole thing is a bop.
Like any good sleuth, my first stop on the Bin Bons journey was Google. I was pleasantly surprised to learn our data-harvesting overlords knew exactly who I was talking about.
As you can see from the top result, Bin Bons has an Urban Dictionary entry. This was dated as June 16th, 2008, giving me my starting point. Prince Caspian had been released one month earlier on May 15th, which kicked off Barnes’ popularity and seemingly this nickname as well.
Other early sources of the Bin Bons nickname include YouTube fan videos, such as this one dated June 12th, 2008.
ONTD users were also using the name in June 2008, with caipirinhas making the earliest mention I can find.
After my initial search, it seemed to me the next logical step was to check fan sites. Stan culture has long been the originator of in-jokes and nicknames, and I was looking for my next clue. I came across a reference ‘BIN BON’ in the LJ community benbarnesfan on June 7th, 2008 - the earliest mention yet.
This LJ community linked to another fansite, BenBarnesFan.com, which I found has been active since 2007. Searching the site I found some mentions to Bin Bons from around the same period in late spring/summer 2008. I found one tantalizing clue, where the poster made reference to the origin of the nickname but the linked video explanation was no longer available.
Despite the missing video, the comments of the post did offer some insight.
I decided to reach out to the site’s webmaster, Stephanie, to see if she had any insight. Stephanie had not made the earlier post, but she got back to me quickly with more context.
Stephanie speculated that the commenters were on the right path, Bin Bons likely originated due to the way Ben Barnes pronounces his own name. As an aside, anyone who is already a Bin Bons stan, or who is converted to one by this post, should check out her website which is an absolute treasure trove of content. I’ll be sending this post her way, so I want to say thanks again for the help Stephanie!
This felt like it could be a natural conclusion to the hunt for the origin of Bin Bons. While I hadn’t found anything definitive, I felt pretty certain about the time period (June 2008) and the rationale that Barnes’ accent was likely the point of origin. It wasn’t the most exciting way to cap off my research, but I figured it was enough and started working on a write up for this ONTD Original.
But I just couldn’t let it go. After a short break I started poking around a bit more, and that’s what lead to the next clue.
While aimlessly clicking around on the benbarnesfan LJ community, I came across a post which had escaped my earlier Googling. The post referenced another LJ community, narnia_dazzle, as the source of the nickname. At last, something concrete!
I knew I needed to get in to that community. I sent a request to join, but unsurprisingly this went nowhere since the community has not been active since 2011. I messaged each of the moderators to see if they were still on LiveJournal, but with no luck. I even reached out to LJ support to see if I could be added as a member of the community, but they politely declined my request to join a decade old private community.
The only parts of the community I could access were its profile page and a handful of public posts. Here I saw references to Bin Bons as early as June 2nd, 2008.
The ONTD Hive Mind
With my attempts to join the community leading nowhere, I decided to consult the broader ONTD family. I am pretty active in the ONTD Animal Crossing Discord (shout out to my frequent fliers!), and eveofrevolution was kind enough to direct me toward cheeseasauras and the wider ONTD Discord.
Folks were very helpful and provided some helpful leads. cheeseasauras recommended I connect with elderpricely, but unfortunately they didn’t have access to the community.
x_jawajawa_x speculated that Bin Bons might be related to the earlier-in-2008 meme WOLL SMOTH.
While it was an absolute delight to return to the iconic WOLL SMOTH AND FRONDS post, I couldn’t find any connection to Bin Bons, whose fame came a few months after the post. The images in the original post are broken, but you can find them here if you want to take a walk down memory lane.
Last but not least, therearewords made a quip about “the bin borne identity” which I was so delighted by it is now the title of this post.
The Big Break
Sure that narnia_dazzle held the answer, but with no way to access the community, I was running out of options. In a last-ditch attempt, I did a search for mentions of “Narnia” on ONTD, which lead to the biggest break of all, eillah’s comment on a 2017 Westworld post.
Finding this comment, I was over the moon - this was by far the most recent link to the long dormant narnia_dazzle community I had found. So, I reached out and eillah proved to be the key to solving the Bin Bons puzzle.
To their recollection, narnia_dazzle had sprung from ontd_twatlight, which thorough readers will remember was a private community I was a member of and still had access to. Before going any further on Bin Bons, we need a primer on Twilight, Twatlight, and ONTD culture circa 2008.
To put it simply, 2008 was a different time. Before the Twilight Renaissance of the late 2010s, there was just earnest love and hatred (usually both together) for this trash book series. In spring 2008, Twilight mania was taking over all corners of the internet as on-set pictures, promo images, and trailers were coming out in advance of the first film’s release. ONTD was not immune from this mania, and Twilight posts would frequently gain hundreds or even thousands of comments.
This is the stage on which we set ontd_twatlight, a spinoff community filled with what we would today call shitposts. Blingees, fanfic, thirsting for RPattz - Twatlight truly had it all. The community even caused hundreds of users to become early-adopters of Twitter, which was used to notify fans of new posts on the front page of ONTD. This was called “the beacon” or alternatively, “the bacon.” These posts would draw thousands upon thousands of comments.
My point is, Twilight (and Twilight shit posting) was extremely common on ONTD and its spinoff communities. I was, and still am, in this community and therefore had access to these posts. Given eillah’s recollections, it seemed like the answer to the Bin Bons question would be found in this community. You see, there was a connection between Twilight-mania and Bin Bons - the Twilight trailer was playing before Prince Caspian in some theatres.
Eventually, several of the ontd_twatlight users who were also fans of the Narnia books/films went on to found another spinoff, narnia_dazzle.
As a member of the private narnia_dazzle community, eillah had access to all the posts which I did not, and soon found concrete receipts about the origin of the Bin Bons name. Notably, the community also had an AIM chat (rip) which they screenshotted and uploaded to the community, showing very early adoption of the term Bin Bons by a few users, around May 31st, 2008.
Finally, eillah came through with the greatest receipt of all, a post in narnia_dazzle claiming credit for originating Bin Bons, which was starting to gain wider traction.
I now present to you the originating comment, sourced directly from ontd_twatlight on May 28th, 2008. The name was first suggested by bingomassacre with gryffindorgeek and vivary (who would both become mods at narnia_dazzle) expressing their enthusiasm.
None of these three users seems to have stayed active on ONTD past 2013, so I doubt they will see this. But if this is you, pop in to the comments! You’re a legend!
As satisfying as I find this origin, there is one lingering, unanswered question. You see, there is a pair of tweets from earlier in May that predate the previous earliest Bin Bons instance by a full 10 days. Using a website called Who Tweeted It First, I came across these messages by a user named ‘starryhours’ - a username which has never appeared on ONTD, narnia_dazzle, or ontd_twatlight as far as I can tell.
What can explain these seemingly unconnected tweets? The use of "Bin Bons" on Twitter doesn’t even occur again until July, so these two messages stand alone, without context. This user hasn’t tweeted in years and because of the nature of Twitter, I can’t DM them.
My theory is that this is a case of multiple discovery. To quote our good pal Wikipedia, multiple discovery is “the hypothesis that most scientific discoveries and inventions are made independently and more or less simultaneously by multiple scientists and inventors.” Examples include researchers in Texas and Japan who independently discovered the same method of cancer immunotherapy and went on to share a Nobel prize, or when everyone decided to make Snow White movies in 2012.
Ben Barnes was rising to prominence throughout the spring of 2008, which is when fan sites like the benbarnesfan LJ and BenBarnesFan.com started to take off, even though they had been created earlier. Is it really so surprising that a few people had the same nickname idea? Especially since, as noted earlier, Bin Bons sounds a lot like Ben Barnes pronouncing his own name. For reference, I’ve compiled some examples.
While ONTD spinoff communities aren’t the definitive origin of Bin Bons, which may never be truly known, it is safe to say it was made popular on Livejournal in May 2008 and spread to other parts of the internet (Twitter, Youtube, fan sites) over the next few months. As noted in the post that sprung this whole deep dive, pretty much no one outside of ONTD uses the Bin Bons nickname these days, and I think that is because it is a truly organic, homegrown, LJ meme.
One more takeaway? Bin Bons got his tag back! Sadly it says ‘Ben Barnes’ but I think we all know and appreciate his true name, Bin Bons.
I would like to thank everyone who contributed to this world-changing research!
- irajaxon for asking the question of where Bin Bons came from
- Stephanie at BenBarnesFan.com
- The ONTD Discord crowd - particularly eveofrevolution, cheeseasauras, x_jawajawa_x, and therearewords
- elderpricely for their insight as a Bin Bons stan
- eillah, first of their name, truest of the nancy drews, the ultimate historian, and bringer of screenshots, without whom this post would never have been possible.
- [Spoiler (click to open)]The multiple geniuses who came up with Bin Bons, whoever and wherever you are
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