Happy First Birthday, Nyan Cat

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Has it really been a year since an animated GIF of a Pop-Tart cat surfing a rainbow wandered into everyone’s Internet lives? In web years, that’s like an eternity since Nyan Cat was uploaded by creator Chris Torres. And the string of spin-offs (Torres said a favorite is the “smooth jazz” version) has only cemented the cat in the proverbial Internet Hall of Fame.

So give Nyan Cat its due for staying power. As of Thursday, according to YouTube Trends, the original 70 million+ viewed three-minute video still ropes in 1,000,000 people a week to be amused, befuddled or somewhere in between by the clip.

“The basic idea and inspiration for Nyan Cat was based off one of my most favorite video game stages,” Torres recently told PC World. “In the stage, a very happy-go-lucky character is taking a stroll through space to an upbeat song. My main goal was to create a character with the same joyful vibe.”

(MORE: What Were the Memes of the Year? Depends on How You Define ‘Meme’)

Coincidentally, the anniversary of the meme arrived the same week as the storied New York Times magazine decided to go all viral by allowing its readers to literally blow up an article about addicting online games with its own aptly deceptive Asteroids-style mini-game.

“They are designed to push their way through the cracks of other occasions,” Sam Anderson observed in the piece. “We play them incidentally, ambivalently, compulsively, almost accidentally. They’re less an activity in our day than a blank space in our day; less a pursuit than a distraction from other pursuits.”

Anderson was commenting on the hooky pleasures of Angry Birds-esque time-wasters, but the same could be said about the inexplicable popularity of Nyan Cat. It’s just sort of undeniable: there’s now a game version to play too.

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