What The Hell Happened To: The Grape Stomp Lady [Was She Kidnapped?]

As reporters/journalists/chroniclers of all things “new media,” NMR is often people’s source for questions, such as: “What the hell happened to the ‘diarrhea jacuzzi girl’?” Frequently, there aren’t any answers because they dropped offline and stopped making/showing up in videos. But these people/animals/objects are an important part of the culture. And so, as often as we can, we track them down so that you can get some closure in your life. Join us as we search for answers in our recurring weekend feature “What the Hell Happened To __________________?”

This week, we find out what the hell happened to The Grape Stomp Lady:

For a brief freckle of time, Melissa Sander, a reporter from Atlanta, GA, was one of the brilliant spots in the YouTube Galaxy. She was referenced everywhere; you were totally inescapable from being showed her video by friends, coworkers and clergymen.

Even Family Guy spoofed it:

But then Melissa Sander seemed to drop off the face of the Earth. Unlike, say, Liam Kyle Sullivan, who made YouTube a job and has acting credits, Melissa was a one-off YouTube celebrity — a victim of circumstance and bad luck. So what happened to her? Was she fired from the news in Atlanta for being a laughingstock? Did she angrily commit suicide, only leaving her computer page open to that infamous video as a suicide note, or did she embrace it all good naturally and go on the YouTube circuit, popping up at conventions like the Double Rainbow Guy?

Turns out, most people have it wrong. Know Your Meme and other, lesser sites somewhere got it into their heads that she appeared on a program called Totally Real Exposé in 2008 and was a bit huffy about the whole incident, allegedly saying:

Screen Shot 2015-01-21 at 3.57.34 PMBut as a commenter on a random site pointed out, it doesn’t take much digging to discover this is false:

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So if this widely believed piece of info is wrong, what is actually true about Melissa Sander since the Great Grape Debacle?

Well, we started by checking in with Fox 5 in Atlanta. She’s not on their list of news staff. But the 90s, when the vid was actually filmed, were a long time ago, and reporters tend to move around. Maybe she got a promotion? According to an old Cracked article, she moved up to Albany, NY. There, according to another source, she was a pain in the ass:

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As Cracked further points out, going from Live Feature Reporter in Atlanta to Weekend Meteorologist in Albany doesn’t sound like she got that promotion. But as she’s no longer there either, it sounds like she’s off the air completely. So where is she now?

Frankly, it’s a bit of a damn mystery how someone in 2015 can be that off the grid. She doesn’t have social media under the  Melissa Sander name (exhaustive searches taught me that) and with no LinkedIn, is she even working at all? At one point, I speculated that she could be a JCPenny employee now, but nope.

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Appropriately, I managed to find an old news story of hers, covering a song called “Where Are You Now.” It offers us one of the few closeups of her out there. At this point, I’m ready to put her picture on a milk carton or start checking Jane Does in the morgue. If she’s still out there, she might just be constantly in hiding, desperately dodging her one infamous moment in the sun.

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