The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Q&A | Benjamin Troester ‘Mayflower Munch’ finds community through campus cult following

The UI first-year student has used his fame to make the most of his first month at Iowa.
Photo+contributed+by+Benjamin+Troester
Photo contributed by Benjamin Troester

Since the start of the school year, University of Iowa first-year Benjamin Troester has accumulated a cult following of Iowa students because his increasing fame on the UI class of 2027 Snapchat story.

Because of Troester’s voluminous head of red curls, his peers recognized his resemblance to the rapper Ice Spice and nicknamed him the “Mayflower Munch,” in reference to one of the rapper’s songs and Mayflower Residence Hall.

Troester’s fame has carried on for about a month and he certainly doesn’t shy away from the limelight, nor is this his first run-in with virality.

The Daily Iowan: Tell us a little bit about your background and what brought you to Iowa.

Benjamin Troester: I am from a town in the northwest suburbs of Chicago called Libertyville. The reason why I came to Iowa was because the campus seemed fairly organized and it was very compact, which was nice. Also, it gave me a decent amount of scholarship money, and actually out of all the schools I applied to it gave me the most amount of money. And additionally, I did have friends who are in here as well from my high school which was always nice.

Did you ever go viral before your breakout on the UI class of 2027 Snapchat story?

One could say that I was, in a sense, viral, but to a smaller population. Essentially what happened was back in my eighth-grade year of middle school, I created a YouTube channel that had low-quality gaming videos, and what happened was people found those funny. A decent proportion of the people in Libertyville somehow found out about it in one way or another. Then my senior year in high school something similar happened once the rapper Ice Spice became more popular and people matched our likeness. But I wouldn’t really say I’ve ever reached as large of an audience as I have now.

Did you give yourself the nickname “Mayflower Munch,” or did other students on the Snapchat story coin it for you?

What happened was at the class of 2027 convocation speech, someone had taken a picture of me and anonymously uploaded it to the story and paired it with one of the older Ice Spice songs. So when I got back to my room, and saw the post, I was like, “Oh, this is funny,” and then one of my suitemates said, “Oh, well, it’s probably because you look like Ice Spice. I wouldn’t be surprised if people started calling you the Munch.” So then I thought well, it must be a coincidence that I live in Mayflower because it’s an alliteration people would remember, so I made a satirical post saying “Guys, stop calling me the Mayflower Munch” and people just caught on.

Have you been enjoying the attention since everyone knows who you are now?

I would say that because of everything that has happened, I’ve definitely reached a large audience of people which is nice. And I believe that I have met people because of my pseudonym — if you will — that I don’t think I would have met if I hadn’t gotten this alter ego.

What is the craziest thing that has happened to you since you’ve become “famous”?

I was walking behind Catlett with the huge cafeteria window on the side of the building, and basically, everyone in the windows started noticing me and waving at me which was pretty spectacular. I don’t think I really know anyone who can say, “I walked past a restaurant and everyone was waving at me.”

Since you have been attracting so much attention and people have been taking pictures of you, do you ever feel that your privacy is being taken away from you?

A lot of people have asked me this question and I’m quite grateful that I can say no. The thing is people only say “Hi” or take pictures of me when I’m out. It happens everywhere throughout campus, but luckily, it doesn’t really happen at Mayflower which is nice. The people who interact with me aren’t rash or disrespectful, and I would definitely say that I feel like there is a sense of community there. They respect my privacy.

RELATED: 33-year-old UI transfer student lives in dorms, finds community

How do you feel about the merch that people have made for you?

It’s actually quite funny, in my opinion, and I don’t understand why people have given up on that stuff. I used to do graphic design back in high school, so I’ve actually considered going back to my old high school and working with the graphic design program and possibly printing some of those shirts. It was a little discouraging to see all of it go down the drain but it is what it is.

Would you say that you want your fame to keep going, or are you getting tired of the spotlight?

I wouldn’t say I’m sick of it, however, if people move on, I won’t really mind because this whole event is somewhat of a trend. I’ve honestly been expecting that to happen a lot earlier than it has. A lot of people, especially the people that I’ve made friends with because of this, have said that I’m a nice person, so I feel that because the people I come into contact with like me as a person, it might make it a little harder for the fame to go away. But at the same time, I wouldn’t really mind it because unless I’m outside it doesn’t really affect me. So I wouldn’t say I am sick of it, and I don’t think I ever will because it is kind of nice.

Is this fame what you want to be remembered for in your time at Iowa? Will this be your legacy?

I wouldn’t necessarily say I want to be remembered for this. However, I suppose you can say this is similar to the amount of community and participation that other famous alumni have exhibited. l I think I’d rather be remembered as a good scholar or something like that. However, the thing is, in order to be a good person, you do have to have a positive social aspect behind your name as well, so I would say that I would want this to be a part of my overall legacy, but not all of it.

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