On March 11, 2020, many of our lives were forever changed. No, I am not making reference to the pandemic, but rather something much more pleasant and amusing — the ideal antidote to everything else that was happening in the world back then. That was the day that Architectural Digest posted its instantly iconic Open Door video with actress Dakota Johnson, in which she gives viewers a tour of her Los Angeles home. Though her house is beautifully designed and decorated, that's not what made this video a sacred text for internet aficionados. Instead, it quickly went viral after it was released for a couple of unexpected reasons. First, was Johnson's charmingly chaotic persona, which was showcased for all to see as the actress hid piles of "weird" books, spoke about the psychology of dish-collecting, pointed out how no one can actually sit at her outdoor table made of wood from Winston Churchill's yacht, showed off her weed-filled herb garden, and off-handedly mentioned where her dead cat, Chicken, was buried in her backyard. No wonder so many of us watched this again and again, eyes ever-widening. And then there were the limes.
While this particular episode of Open Door is filled with many delightfully puzzling moments, perhaps no moment was more memed than the one that unfolded at the video's five-minute mark, as Johnson stood in her gorgeous green kitchen, looking around almost as if it were an unfamiliar space, spotted the platter of limes directly behind her, reached out a hand to touch them, and uttered the simple but strange phrase: "I love limes." In case her love for limes wasn't clear from the first time she said it, she then went on to reiterate, "I love them. They're great. I love them so much, and I like to present them like this in my house."
"I love limes" instantly became pop culture canon. Johnson's matter-of-fact delivery of such a random pronouncement shook viewers. She wasn't saying she liked the taste of limes, nor did she provide details about why she loves them, what she does with them, or even how she came to discover that she liked the aesthetic they provided when displayed around her home. No, she just loves them. They're great. Dakota Johnson loves limes so much. Good for her, but no wonder we were all left baffled yet captivated by this powerful love that also had a total lack of context. It was a strange moment, but then again, nothing was so strange as what we were about to embark on as the pandemic shut down our lives.
Nearly one year after Johnson's Open Door made waves, this peculiar moment that acted like a talisman for those of us who are very online, even though it almost felt like a troll has been revealed to be exactly that — a lie. Last week, the actress appeared on The Tonight Show and admitted to Jimmy Fallon that she did not actually love limes or think they were great. The truth was revealed when Fallon played a clip of Johnson saying, "I love limes." The host asked his guest, with feigned earnestness, "What do you do with all those limes?" She responded, "I actually didn't even know that they were in there."
Johnson, who also explained that the platter of limes was just set dressing, then told Fallon that she's actually allergic to limes, explaining it all in the most Dakota Johnson way possible: a confusing tangent about how honeydew melons make her tongue itch. Fallon, trying to get her back on course, asked, "But limes do the same thing?" She stared off into the distance, pondering the follow-up like she wasn't expecting the question, then said: "Kind of."
Johnson's hesitation and her tangent about honeydew made me wonder if the actress was once again trolling us all. At this point, I wouldn't put it past her. Are lime allergies even a thing? Or was she just expanding on her web of lime-lies so we'd get tangled up in our obsession with her for yet another year? According to Dr. Purvi Parikh, allergist and immunologist with Allergy & Asthma Network, getting an itchy mouth after eating limes totally is a thing. "An actual life-threatening food allergy to lime or citrus is possible but very rare," she tells Refinery29. "What is actually more common is something called oral allergy syndrome which is when a citrus fruit causes oral itching because it has the same protein in it as a pollen you are allergic to." This is different from a true food allergy as it doesn't progress to anaphylaxis, Parikh told us, saying, "Also, usually once the fruit is cooked, it can be eaten — for example, in key lime pie."
When I told Dr. Parikh about Johnson's issues with honeydew melon, which to me seemed wholly unrelated to this lime thread many of us have been so dutifully following, she told me the two reactions were likely related. "Yes, the melon also causes oral allergy syndrome due to its cross-reactivity with ragweed pollen, the big fall pollen." So, despite Johnson's distracted delivery, this all checks out.
As for the limes being part of the interior styling for Johnson's AD shoot and Open Door video, that, too, seems to be the truth. Mieke ten Have, a New York-based stylist, design writer, and consultant, was the one who styled Johnson's home for the spread, according to AD. While she and AD would not provide comment on the limes, I have reason to believe — you know, aside from Johnson's word since that clearly cannot be trusted — that ten Have is responsible for their abundant presence. After the AD story was published last March, Pierce & Ward, the interior design firm the actress worked with on her home, shared some of the images from the shoot. In one photo of the kitchen — the exact backdrop of the now-infamous "I love limes" moment — Pierce & Ward tagged one Mieke ten Have as the platter of limes. Reader, when I made this discovery, I screamed. This already ridiculous rabbit down which I had fallen so deeply clearly has no limit.
In another image shared by the design firm, they tagged the stylist again — this time as a cutting board laden with, you guessed it, sliced limes set upon Johnson's kitchen table. Why tag ten Have as the limes? It's almost as if the designers wanted to make it quite clear that they were not the ones responsible for endangering Johnson — or at least making her itchy. And there was something to be worried about. It was a lot of limes. From what I can tell based on Instagram images and paused frames of the Open Door video, there were at least 16 limes around that room and even more additional citrus fruit exhibited around her home. As Johnson told Fallon, "It was hard to just ignore them."
Perhaps some people are disappointed that Johnson's lime lies were revealed, but I think her decision to come clean that her wild proclamation of "I love limes" was not, in fact, legitimate is really the best end to this saga. The sketchy details around why she doesn't even eat limes make the resolution all the better. All of this is exactly why the internet can't get enough of Dakota Johnson, especially during these times. She is chaotic good in its most pure form. As we deal with so much evil, disturbing, and discouraging chaos day after day, it is utterly refreshing to be hit with some fun and inconsequential drama. And it's not the first time she's provided us with just that. Never forget that, at her best, Dakota Johnson even exposed Ellen DeGeneres as someone who lies about birthday party invitations. So if this is Johnson at her worst, she's what? Lying to YouTube audiences about liking limes, simply because she was bombarded with bowls and bowls of them, and didn't want to be rude? I'll take it.