TikTok's Weird, Whimsical 'Dabloon' Economy Explained

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As the crypto economy collapses, another digital currency is born: the whimsical dabloon. But this isn’t some new tongue-in-cheek meme coin like Doge or an elaborate pump-and-dump scheme. In fact, the fictional TikTok currency isn’t worth anything offline, is based entirely on the honor system, and is more about having fun than growing wealth.

The internet coins — named after the doubloon, a 16th-century Spanish coin — facilitate a sort of TikTok roleplaying game wherein users can collect and spend imaginary currency on items like food, weapons, or Hello Kitty strawberry marshmallows. Collecting dabloons is left up to chance on the platform and is part of an unofficial economy. 

If the TikTok algorithm shows you a dabloon video — normally a black cat will appear and simply give you a few coins — then you’ve earned some dabloons. You purchase items the same way: you happen upon a video of a dabloon shop while swiping through your feed.

Of course, the economy is user-generated, so the app doesn’t keep track of coins you earn, spend, or lose. It’s entirely up to participants, some of whom record their transactions on whiteboards or in detailed spreadsheet. You could lie, inflate your wealth, and say you’re a dablooniare. But that would defeat the purpose of the game, which is, above everything, about having fun.

While this trend might seem niche or overly arcane, the dabloon economy has reached the mainstream on TikTok, where #dabloons has accumulated more than 842 million views. It all started, according to the internet historians at Know Your Meme, with an early 2021 Instagram meme of the “4 Dabloons Cat.” The post featured a cat with four toes accompanied by the caption “4 dabloons,” which quickly went viral on Instagram, Tumblr, and Reddit. (The internet just really likes cats.)

@lightningmcqueenplacemat Replying to @allexiswith2ls spreadsheet update 🫢 she’s a dabillionaire…but i’m a broke dablooniversity student 😔🤚 #dabloons #dabloontok #dablooncat ♬ original sound - ren 🌙☀️

It wasn’t until the meme made its way to TikTok later in 2021 that it became a foundation for an underground economy. Know Your Meme traces the first dabloon currency video back to an October 2022 clip in which a TikTokker sells a burger for four dabloons.

Today, the dabloon economy is so sophisticated that it mirrors our own, with a dabloon FBI, IRS, and group of revolutionary anti-capitalists.

“I think the reason we all love this is that we all secretly miss being 5 and playing with our friends,” dabloon collector Beth Woodward told the Guardian.

“I miss being a kidnapped princess or a witch making potions. Being a part of this trend means I can do that again. I can be a silly little cat buying silly little items and just having a great time.”

Gallery: 15 Food Hacks From TikTok That Live Up to the Hype

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