‘Just the Essentials’: This Longhorn’s Instagram @DudeFridges is highlighting our barebones refrigerators

Have you ever found yourself standing before an open refrigerator, wondering how to scrounge together a meal with only condiments, beer, and shredded cheese? You might have a “dude fridge,” Dillon Shipper, BA ’17, says. 

Shipper is the founder of @DudeFridges, an Instagram “community” started in November 2022 to share photos and memes about the ridiculous contents behind everyday refrigerator doors. The account’s name was inspired by the barebones fridges that Shipper and his guy friends had in college, but he says anyone can have or appreciate a “dude fridge.” 

“We’ve all been there,” Shipper says. “I think it’s kind of a nostalgic thing [for] back when we had less money or just not enough time to actually go grocery shopping.” 

Followers submit photos of fridge interiors they encounter, providing the bulk of the account’s content alongside Shipper’s original memes. Although Shipper initially created the account to make people laugh, @DudeFridges has also quickly grown into a business of sorts with more than 13,000 followers and regular promotional collaborations. Shipper currently works a day job in real estate development, but he has his sights set on turning @DudeFridges into a functional side hustle. As the son of a UT Tennis Hall of Famer, Shipper jokes that he is now on his way to make history in the “UT Hall of Fridges.”  

Shipper sat down with the Alcalde to explain how to feed the soul with a fully stocked meme page. 

What exactly is @DudeFridges? 

[@DudeFridges is] a social media community where I blog and track the insane things that people put in their fridges. It reminds me of myself, back when I was in college and my early 20s and I had a fridge with just beer and sauces. It really comes from nostalgia for a point of life that I think most people have been in or could relate to.  

What makes someone’s refrigerator a “dude fridge”? 

I think there are a lot of ways to define it, but to me, the holy trinity of a dude fridge is that it just has shredded cheese, pickles, and beer. Another big component of it is having zero food, but all the sauces in the world. It’s like you’re ready to pour on the extra flavor, but there’s nothing that you can actually use to cook. 

A quintessential “dude fridge,” as submitted to the @DudeFridges Instagram account.

How did you first start the account? 

I started this in November 2022, but I had the idea going back two years … just from really being inspired by my fridge and my friends’ fridges. I’d just look at them like, What the heck is going on? How do we live like this? I thought it was funny and I’ve always wanted to be in the social media world in some capacity. So, I had the idea and the name, but work’s busy and life’s life. It wasn’t until November when I found this girl who was advertising on Facebook about doing branding [and] logos, so I hit her up to make one for Dude Fridges. That’s when it really started. Now I [have more than] 13,000 followers after a few months, and it’s honestly just been a great outlet to have my job and then [the account] to have a little fun on the side. 

The @DudeFridges logo.

What is it like gaining a substantial following when this was initially just for fun? 

I knew in my head that I had something funny, and I think in any capacity, it’s cool to see your idea or humor validated. [But] I think this is just the beginning, like I want to have a huge following. I want my account to be a place where people can go to just have a laugh and enjoy themselves. I want to also help up-and-coming brands as my reach gets bigger if people need space to advertise. And then I want to keep doing giveaways and making memes because that’s really fun for me. 

What kinds of giveaways or partnerships have you done? 

With it being about fridges, there’s a lot of stuff you can do to advertise [food products]. I’ve worked with this company called Nebula Snacks. They’re trying to make a healthier zero-sugar chocolate. I’ve partnered with Hungry Jack pancakes on a giveaway. I have stuff planned with Mount Olive Pickles, which is funny because it’s like, who doesn’t have pickles [in their fridge]? You never really eat them, they just sit there for two years. 

How do you make time for Dude Fridges outside of your day job? 

I do a lot of this work after work, so I really use my nights to plan. I have a photo album where I store everything people submit … and plan posts at night. I also reach out to brands at night to set up giveaways and things. I would like to monetize, but I don’t want to lose sight of this being fun. It’s a balance where having a side income would be cool, but I want to keep the fun of it because that’s what I made the account for.  

After spending so much time looking into other people’s fridges, does it change how you think about your own? 

A little bit. When my friends come over, they look at my fridge and laugh about it. Recently, my mom was in town and she was like, “Oh, looks like you have a dude fridge right now.” I feel like people are just starting to associate me with fridges and it’s funny. 

The current contents of Shipper’s fridge.

Have you told a lot of people in your life about running the account? 

My closer friends know that it’s me, but it’s not something I heavily advertise other than that. I like the anonymous factor. I like the account just being a community. I’m the main curator, but even though it’s me leading it and running it, there’s this togetherness [because] we’re all laughing about it.  

How do you expand your reach on Instagram? 

I’m friends with a guy who runs an account with over 200,000 followers, and he gave me the best advice: Be consistent with posting. So back when I had zero followers, I was posting three times a day. It’s like setting up a portfolio because you want people to go to your account and see things that will make them want to follow. It was definitely hard to get content back then because I wasn’t as big, so it was a lot of friends and family submitting. I think a defining moment was when I reached out via DM to the account @boyswhocancook. They have a million followers and work with a lot of big meme accounts … and getting that exposure to all their followers was really key. You just do everything you can to [increase] engagement, and you have to be willing to invest a little and trust in your ideas.  

What are some of your favorite dude fridges to date? 

This one guy sent me a picture of 10 to 15 pancakes stacked up in the fridge, and that’s just such a typical dude thing to do. A lot of guys I know will just put stuff in the fridge and not cover it. A joke I’ve made on the account is like, “Why would I cover my food? The fridge is the cover.” This other guy sent me one recently that had a thing of mayo right next to a Topo Chico, and my caption was like, “Dudes will literally survive a 12-month lease on just this.” That’s the fun part too, getting to make these captions.  

What is the best thing about being a part-time “meme lord,” so to speak? 

The best thing is the humor and creativity that I get to incorporate now on the side. I don’t think I could ever be a stand-up comedian, but this is a really cool outlet to make people laugh and express this little niche I’ve found.  

CREDITS: @DudeFridges, Dillon Shipper


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