“No step on snek” is the humorous reiteration of the iconic phrase of the Gadsden Flag, Don’t Tread on Me.
The expression became popular as meme, displaying a poorly drawn doodle of a snake with the line “No step on Snek” written below it.
In the original flag the phrase “Don’t Tread on Me” dates back as far as the American Revolution.
“No step on snek” became a popular product, appearing on t-shirts, plates, stickers and patches, mostly in the United States.
The iconic Gadsden Flag originates from the War of Independence, adopted by the American Navy in 1775, named after a politician of the era, Christopher Gadsden.
It is still a popular symbol in American culture and is often referenced to this day, allowing it to be adopted by the meme community as well in 2015, when a comic spelling of the word snake as “snek” started to spread across the internet, similar to other memes such as Stonks.
Following 2015, variations of the “No step on snek” started seeing use on various sites, emerging in discussions on Reddit, 4chan, Tumblr, and Twitch, used as a warning when encountering disrespect.
The popularity of the meme reached its peak in April 2017, having spread to several meme sites and social media platforms, including 9GAG, FunnyJunk, Twitter, 4chan, Reddit and Twitch, often used as a reaction image macro, warning other users humorously to back off.
Several variations have been created, ranging from a minimalistic reimagining of the flag to even merchandize, featuring the catchphrase and a more cartoony illustration of the serpent, being sold on Amazon and Etsy in the form of tote bags, t-shirts, car stickers and much more.
“No step on snek” had become so popular, that compilations of the best reiterations for it surfaced more and more often on Reddit, the most popular subgenre of which became the various Photoshop edits, depicting US military personnel with the modified Gadsden Flag.