'Pepe the Frog' Meme Coins Rocket as Crypto Twitter Moves Over Dogecoin Obsession

Some early users have turned a few hundred dollars to six figures on the latest meme obsession.

AccessTimeIconApr 18, 2023 at 5:29 a.m. UTC
Updated May 11, 2023 at 8:37 p.m. UTC

The most degen of Crypto Twitter traders seem to be moving over Shiba Inu-fashioned tokens to those branded after the internet meme Pepe the Frog.

A pepe (PEPE) token launched Sunday ran over 21,000% in the past three days, raking in $30 million in trading volumes on Uniswap and reaching a market capitalization of as high as $33 million on Tuesday morning.

“The most memeable memecoin in existence. The dogs have had their day, it’s time for Pepe to take reign,” [sic] the Pepe website says.

Pepe hit 10,000 individual holders on Tuesday, data from blockchain tracker Etherscan shows, meaning the token was quickly purchased by swathes of investors participating in the ongoing frenzy – and pinning hopes on turning a profit.

Pepe tokens price chart has been up only, so far. (DEXTools)
Pepe tokens price chart has been up only, so far. (DEXTools)

The tokens have a circulating supply of 420 trillion, a reference to "4/20," another popular cannabis culture slang. The trading action is rather serious for a token intended to be a complete joke: a trading pool on Uniswap for Pepe tokens locks up over $1.3 million in liquidity, all supplied by providers.

As such, the tokens have no connection to the actual Pepe the Frog meme or Matt Furie, the meme’s original creator.

Furie’s Pepe, a green frog with a humanoid body, originated in the 2005 comic Boy's Club. It went viral in the years following, becoming a popular part of internet culture.

Crypto Twitter has a knack for jumping on memecoins, mainly after the rise of tokens such as dogecoin (DOGE) and shiba inu (SHIB) – which jumped to tens of billions in market capitalization in the previous bull market.

Most of these do not last beyond a few weeks. Last year saw hopefuls bet on articles from the English language to McDonald’s branded Grimacecoins.

Anyone can call a smart contract and issue tokens on Ethereum (or other blockchains) for a few cents, and the presence of decentralized exchanges means tokens can instantly be issued, supplied with liquidity and traded soon after.

Some professional investors have previously told CoinDesk that meme coins and their narratives will always remain a part of the crypto ecosystem.

“Meme coins are huge parts of the crypto trading landscape, whether we like it or not,” James Wo, founder at crypto fund DFG, told CoinDesk at the heights of one such meme obsession. “While the biggest currencies like bitcoin and ether have very low volatility, it's only natural that traders will look for opportunities elsewhere.”

“Meme trading is a risky way to try to seek excessive return, but when it pans out, the upside can be very huge. So even in a bear market, some of the meme coins will have large up-swing, even if it's just short term,” Wo explained.

The premise doesn’t matter: if there’s money to be made peddling trendy topics; expect a market for it somewhere in niche "s**tcoin" circles.


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Shaurya Malwa

Shaurya is the Deputy Managing Editor for the Data & Tokens team, focusing on decentralized finance, markets, on-chain data, and governance across all major and minor blockchains.