Where does come from?
The eggplant emoji first debuted in 2010 and quickly emerged as a symbol for the penis. According to “Among the New Words,” a quarterly article in the journal American Speech, the eggplant emoji was used on Twitter to mean “penis” as early as 2011. In March of 2014, the video artist Jesse Hill “translated” Beyoncé’s hit song “Drunk in Love” into emoji, using the eggplant to represent Jay Z’s penis. By December of that year, the phallic meaning of the eggplant emoji made it way into a discussion on the television show Divorce Court.
By 2014, the emoji inspired a trend on Instagram and other social-media sites called "#EggplantFriday," a hashtag that was linked to posts where men posted suggestive or explicit images of their “eggplants.” But in 2015, Instagram actually blocked the eggplant emoji and references to it (e.g., "#eggplant") from its search functionality. "#EggplantFriday," the company said, was a violation of Instagram’s ban on nudity due to its common tags of graphic sexual content. Instagram’s ban resulted in a campaign called "#FreetheEggplant," most likely modeled after by the similar campaign "#FreetheNipple," in 2012 for gender equality.
In 2016, the American Dialect Society named the eggplant emoji the “Most Notable Emoji” of 2015 due to its widespread use as sexual innuendo. The eggplant emoji has inspired two companies, Eggplant in the Mail and the Eggplant Mail, which let customers send actual eggplants in the mail as gag gifts. The latter, fittingly, donates 15% of proceeds to the Prostate Cancer Foundation. Additionally, the company Emojibrator released an eggplant emoji vibrator in 2016.
Who uses ?
The eggplant emoji is also called the aubergine emoji in the UK and Japan. While it can literally refer to the food item (say, if someone was talking about an eggplant parmesan recipe), it’s most often used online to represent the penis. This is in large part to the fact that the emoji representations of other oblong foods associated with penises, like the banana or cucumber, look less phallic.
The eggplant emoji is frequently combined with other emoji. When paired with the mouth emoji, it can suggest oral sex. When compared with the peach emoji, which people liken to a butt or female genitalia, it can mean anal or vaginal sex. Coupled with the sweat droplets emoji, it can represent ejaculation. Because of its suggestiveness, the eggplant emoji is often used in sexting.
The eggplant emoji has become so associated with the penis that people even use the word eggplant as a stand in, or euphemism for, the word penis.
#BreakingNews: We're launching an exciting new savoury #condom range - Eggplant flavour! #CondomEmoji
@durex, September, 2016
Had anyone used this as anything other than a penis? #realtalk #eggplant #orisit ?
@yahhhbitch, June, 2016
But don’t cry for the eggplant. It’s going to take a long time for bros to stop snickering every time they walk through a late-August farmers’ market, or read the menu at a Middle-Eastern joint. And hey, that peach is still up for grabs…
Regan Hofmann, “The Complete (and Sometimes Sordid) History of the Eggplant Emoji,” First We Feast, June, 2015