You can recognize a Bossip headline instantly. For starters, they’re usually ten words too long, rife with clever alliteration and celebrity nicknames (that’s Ms. ‘soft-boiled ostrich egg’ Taylor Swift to you, okay?), and easily some of the most intriguing headlines you’ll ever want to click on. And The New York Times, a comparably restrained publication that couldn’t be further from what Bossip is giving readers, reached out to the site’s editors to figure out how their signature headline sausage gets made.
As for the ostrich egg label, which appeared in a headline fully titled ‘Caucasity Audacity: Soft-Boiled Ostrich Egg Taylor Swift Gets Buried, Burned, and Blown Away For Earth, Wind And Fire Cover,” associate editor Jason Ryan Lee explained that not only was it a bonus to use ‘caucasity’ with ‘audacity’ because it rhymed, but he also slipped in a subtle reference to the recent “Teddy Perkins” episode of Atlanta in which the creepy titular character eats a giant ostrich egg.
The editors also shed light on how they try to tread carefully in terms of their majority women readership, though their staff is split 50/50 in terms of gender. “As a woman working for the website, I sometimes tell the other guys, pull back, chill a little,” associate editor Danielle Canada explains, referencing headlines in with Blac Chyna is deemed ‘huge’ because of her pregnancy (which was ultimately cut) or Usher smashing his rumored new girlfriend to “smithereens.” There are also of course Bossip articles that cover more serious stories like police brutality or missing children, which are the articles that don’t get a jokey headline. One editor told the Times that he’s seen readers say, “you know its serious when Bossip gives you a straightforward headline.”
But the star of the piece might be associate editor Alex Ford, who said he originated the term “saltine fury” as a way to work around a ban on curse words and slurs in headlines. He says:
I sat there one day and I was like how can I write this ‘Black Panther’ headline without saying cracker or honkie? I created saltine fury just there on the spot, just being crazy. And Jah, he had been working with ‘mayo packets.’ He had used it before, and I was like, I can’t use saltine fury in this headline without mayo packets giving it that mayo delicious flavor.
The final headline: “Saltine Fury: Racist Mayo Packets Are BIG MAD About Black Panther’s Blackity Blackness.” Now can’t you just smell the delicious mayo flavor wafting off that headline?