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The next-level emoticons known as emoji have taken texting by smile, with hundreds of animations for phone users increasingly available to insert in their messages. But in their silliness — beyond the standard smileys and hearts, there is also the little poop-dude () among other weird options () — there also lies some mystery. Why is there a smiling piece of poop? Where did these come from? (Japan. But how did they make it to the iPhone?) For answers to some of those burning questions, New York magazine's Joe Coscarelli texted with Willem Van Lancker, who created 400 of the 500 original emoji for iPhone. He didn't get to the bottom of everything (like who created this awesome emoji New Yorker cover), but we do get some clarity on the life and origins of the fun little animations. Some highlights:

Why Emoji Are so Popular in Japan

Why Poop Looks a Lot Like Ice Cream (Which is Gross)

It Is Okay to Emoji-Flirt 

Van Lacker does it...

And a Cool Emoji Trick We Bet You Didn't Know

For more from the man behind the emoji, head over to New York

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