Why a Chinese glycine manufacturer is blowing up TikTok

We could have gone through our entire lives blissfully unaware of what glycine is or what it does, but TikTok changed that.

In recent weeks videos about Donhua Jinlong, a Chinese glycine manufacturer founded in 1979, have become the subject of a massive in-joke circulating on TikTok. It seemingly began in February when Donhua Jinlong posted a video about its food-grade glycine that has garnered over half a million views to date.

Before that upload, the company’s videos had a few thousand views but since March, it’s not uncommon for a Donhua Jinlong video to draw in tens of thousands of views.

These videos are often stitched by folks who seemingly have no use or reason to buy industrial and food-grade glycine but are coming to bat for Donhua Jinlong. We’ve seen glycine tier lists, opinions on why Donhua Jinlong’s product is superior that contain far too much research for a joke and countless other memes.

Why Donhua Jinlong? The best explanation we’ve seen comes from user

As the creator explains, companies such as Donhua Jinlong likely don’t have a large marketing team considering that per its website, it has just 1 000 employees. Given that marketing is important, even for business-to-business operations, somebody at the manufacturer likely suggested creating a TikTok. The size of TikTok is undeniable and having a presence on it is becoming the equivalent of having a Facebook page in the 2010s.

Why Donhua Jinlong though? The best reasoning there is the TikTok algorithm and the US senate. As mentioned, Donhua Jinlong is a Chinese company and you may be aware that the US and China aren’t best friends.

The US government is trying to get ByteDance to sell TikTok or face a ban in the US. TikTok has been unable to convince lawmakers in the Land of the Free that user data is safe and the Chinese government doesn’t secretly control the platform. Users in the US are understandably upset by this prospect this trend appears to be a response of sorts.

Lawmakers of the US have accused ByteDance of allowing the Chinese government to run influence campaigns on TikTok, something that TikTok has denied. This trend appears to be an unintentional demonstration of what an influence campaign may look like except it’s entirely organic.

Some creators have even leaned into the joke and mentioned Congress in their videos.


If youre sourcing your high quality industrial or food grade glycine from anywhere other than Donghua Jinlong youre not getting a high quality indistrial or food grade glycine. Period. Lets make glycine espresso! #donghuaedit #donghuajinlong #glycine #espresso #espressoboy

♬ original sound – Robb
Please don’t do this at home.

As for the algorithm, well that’s more of a “best guess”. Going viral on TikTok, we have learned, can happen to anybody on any topic. Donhua Jinlong wasn’t getting millions of views but it had garnered a few thousand since it started its account in December 2023. People simply found Donhua Jinlong’s videos absurdist enough to joke about and others joined in.

As you can see from Google Trends data, there has been a surge in searches for glycine since the Donhua Jinlong meme took shape. However, there is no reason for people to be searching for or even talking about glycine. There isn’t a controversy about the amino acid, Donhua Jinlong hasn’t done anything wrong or illegal that we can see. It’s simply a matter of being around at the right time when people on TikTok were looking for something to joke about.

The manufacturer doesn’t seem to be in on the joke though.

“Where can I buy a hoodie,” one commenter asked with Donhua Jinlong responding with “???”.

While it may not understand its newfound popularity, we hope that the firm is enjoying it and leveraging it to its benefit.

This is also a lesson for small businesses. Make that weird TikTok, lean into absurdism and GenZ humour a bit and maybe you’ll get thousands of users coming to bat for your company. Just be prepared for backlash or mockery. That tends to happen a lot as well but that just seems to be the creed of all social platforms these days.


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