SINGAPORE, Dec 1 — A viral trend on TikTok has users putting their relationships to the test with the help of an unassuming fruit.

Dubbed the “orange peel theory”, it purports that if your significant other is willing to peel an orange for you — without having to be asked and even though you could easily do it yourself — it is a positive indication that your partner truly loves and cares for you.

According to social video insights platform Tubular, the “orange peel theory” is trending across several countries including the United States (US), the United Kingdom, Canada and India, having garnered over 38 million views and 3.8 million engagements as of this afternoon.

Closer to home, Singapore online users have suggested a local alternative to the theory: prawn peeling.

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What is “orange peel theory”?

Contrary to what its name suggests, “orange peel theory” is not just about the act of peeling oranges. It encompasses any small act of kindness or thoughtful gesture, from taking out the trash to preparing a cup of morning coffee.

Essentially, it highlights whether one’s partner is attentive to their needs and does things for them because they can and want to, not because they feel obligated to do so.

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How did the name come about?

Orange peel theory is believed to have originated from a TikTok slideshow by the account “things.i.cant.sen” featuring an iMessage conversation between an individual and their ex.

A woman named Charlotte strikes up a conversation by sharing news of getting into New York University in the US. The conversation takes a nostalgic turn as the two reminisce about past experiences.

“I miss when you would peel my oranges for me in the morning,” a message from Charlotte read.

The ex replied: “Did you learn how to do it yet?”

Orange peel theory is believed to have originated from this iMessage conversation between an individual and their ex. — Picture via TikTok/things.i.cant.sen
Orange peel theory is believed to have originated from this iMessage conversation between an individual and their ex. — Picture via TikTok/things.i.cant.sen

“No, I still get juice all over and stab my nails too deep,” Charlotte answered, before admitting to still having lingering feelings.

The ex advises her that she will “figure it out someday” and suggests ceasing communication.

The final slide shows Charlotte texting the ex again on another day to say: “I peeled my orange today.”

However, this time the text appears in a green bubble indicating that she has been removed as an iMessage contact.

The video went viral on TikTok, amassing over 15.2 million views since it was posted on November 4. The emotional exchange resonated with heartbroken individuals, while others expressed appreciation for having loved ones “who still peel their oranges” for them.

A message from the conversation that is believed to have sparked the viral ‘orange peel theory’. — Picture via TikTok/things.i.cant.sen
A message from the conversation that is believed to have sparked the viral ‘orange peel theory’. — Picture via TikTok/things.i.cant.sen

TikTok users test the theory

TikTok users have since flooded the video platform to share the little ways their partners have brightened their days. A search of the hashtag #orangepeeltheory on the platform will produce hundreds of videos totalling close to 40 million views.

In one viral video, avid baker “Jennaskates” revealed how her chef boyfriend came home and surprised her with containers of separated egg whites.

“Just the other night when I was prepping buttercream, I was telling him how I hated separating the whites from the yolks,” she explained.

“My longer nails make it hard and that night I was repeatedly popping yolks. And this man took time to pre-separate the egg whites from the yolks for me.”

The user added that she did not think her boyfriend had paid attention to her “little rant”, but said she felt “seen” after his thoughtful gesture.

@jennaskates heart wrenching. But in a good way. #fypシ #baking #cakes Think Of Me Once In A While, Take Care - Take Care

“He peeled your orange,” read one top comment.

Some social media users took the theory further by testing it on their loved ones, but a number of them may have ended up with a sour taste in their mouths.

In one video, TikTok user “urlocalgh0ull” claimed that she had asked someone “very dear” to peel an orange for her.

@urlocalgh0ull

thug it out

interlinked - jacob¡

“He did (it) but with a heavy sigh and rolled eyes. So now I just peel my own oranges in silence to not bother anyone,” she wrote.

Some people have even admitted to breaking up with their partners over the theory after realising that they were not being treated with acts of love, such as in a Reddit post by user “Fine_Marionberry3796”.

Prawn peel theory

For Singaporeans, peeling prawns seemed to be a more appreciated show of affection instead.

In a street interview by Wekaypoh and 987 DJ Avery Aloysius Yeo, several youths agreed that they would be willing to deshell the cumbersome crustaceans as an act of love for their partner.

Some even admitted that they would “feel bothered” if their other half refused to do so.

The interviewees also suggested other manifestations of “orange peel theory”, such as if their partners helped to carry their bags, tied their shoelaces or bought food for them.

When asked if the theory is a good gauge of a relationship and love, one male interviewee replied: “Just the little things to show that you love the person.” — TODAY

@wekaypoh When you don't have to ask your partner to peel prawns for you >>> @Mediacorp 987 #wekaypoh #wkp #streetinterview #theorangetheory #theprawntheory original sound - ꜰᴇᴇʟ ɢᴏᴏᴅ ᴍᴜᴢɪᴄ