Corn kid everything changed viral video and meme.

How 'Corn Kid' Went From Wholesome Viral Video To Oversaturated Meme At Lightning Speed

Earlier this month, the YouTube channel Recess Therapy, essentially an internet-friendly version of Kids Say The Darnedest Things, struck algorithmic gold when it stumbled upon Tariq, a small child at Brooklyn's Smogasburg food festival in Prospect Park, who decided that day that he really wanted to talk about how much he loves corn.

The now-inescapable viral video is largely considered both fantastic and wholesome. Tariq delivers an incredible slew of A1 quotes about corn (or as he says it, "cahwun"), some of which doubled as metaphors for life to jaded adults. Some of these include:

"When I tried it with butter, everything changed"

"Not everybody has to like it to be the best."

"I can't imagine a more beautiful thing."

And, of course, the finale that sealed Corn Kid as an all-time classic:

"I hope you have a corn-tastic day!"

It would take a cold soul to not smile at Tariq's pure love of the common vegetable. The video went on to rack up millions of views across almost every social media channel, as, for a short moment, Corn Kid was the hottest thing on the internet.

But, like a beautiful, golden, uneaten cob of corn dropped on the ground on a hot summer's day, Corn Kid was destined to be consumed by the ants of commerce until all of the juice that made it special was sucked dry.

Within one month, Corn Kid went from a wholesome video to a depressing reminder of the downside of hyper-accelerated meme and media culture. Already, marketing gurus are using the video to outline content marketing strategies on LinkedIn. The San Francisco Chronicle is attempting to piggyback off the video's success to promote restaurants that serve corn. Music blog Consequence of Sound is making Taylor Swift album announcement parodies with Tariq's monologue … and these are only a few of the more minor ways brands have attempted to capitalize off Corn Kid's success β€” we'll get to bigger ones later.

This, as many on social media have put it, arguably sucks.

So, how did we get here? What turned Corn Kid from a wholesome viral video to an oversaturated marketing gimmick at a seemingly record pace? The culprit is, perhaps unsurprisingly to many, TikTok.

Shortly after Tariq's video went viral, @schmoyoho, best known for their Autotune The News series in the early 2010s and recent viral hit memes on TikTok like Chrissy, Wake Up, posted a video remixing the original Corn Kid clip roughly two weeks after it first appeared online.

@schmoyoho intro song for any meal/snack with corn 🌽 – from iconic interview on @doingthings ♬ Corn but it becomes a song and unites world – schmoyoho

The sound went on to dominate TikTok over the next few weeks, and now, over 324,000 videos have been created on TikTok using schmoyoho's song, making it a verifiable smash on the platform.

It's worth noting that schmoyoho does tons of songs and remixes all sorts of viral videos into music, and has been doing so for almost as long as YouTube's been around. So the eventual onus of corporatized memes using Corn Kid isn't on them, they merely kicked it off into massive virality through their remix becoming wildly popular on TikTok.

So, it appears that once it was clear there was money to be made off Corn Kid, many brands jumped at the chance to exploit him for success.

Tariq joined Cameo following his viral fame, where users could purchase personalized videos from him for between $150 and $500 a pop. One of the earliest was the University of Nebraska, whose team name is the Cornhuskers, which purchased a Cameo from Tariq last week that racked up over 14,000 likes on Twitter.

Then, Chipoltle seemingly decided to cash in on Tariq's internet renown, putting him in an ad designed to go viral. The ad sees a Chipoltle worker offering the list of ingredients one would normally put in a burrito to an unseen customer. The customer rejects them all until the worker gets to corn, when – surprise! – it's revealed the customer is Tariq, who shouts, "It's corn!"

Perhaps the most disheartening example of the cultural regurgitation of Corn Kid is Tariq's second appearance on Recess Therapy. In the video, made one week ago at the peak of Corn Kid's fame, we find host Julian Shapiro-Barnum sitting with Tariq again to chat with him about corn.

Immediately, it's clear the vibe is different from the original video. Tariq, clearly having some understanding of how the world sees him, has a self-conscious air about him, like he knows what people expect of him and he's acting to fit the part. Shapiro-Barnum seemingly knows this as well, perhaps working to goad more gems out of him by asking him corn-related questions in the hopes Tariq will come up with something as golden as "corntastic day" this time around.

The organic magic of the original video is missing, leaving behind a clip that almost feels like a fanservice-filled reboot of a classic.

The time of the Corn Child is swiftly drawing to a close, and while we can't fault Tariq's caretakers for seizing an opportunity to make some money from the boy's stumble into viral fame, the Corn Kid saga is a curious reminder of how media culture is designed to quickly consume anything organically beloved, then wring it for every penny it's worth.

+ Add a Comment

Comments (2)

Display Comments

Add a Comment

Hi! You must login or signup first!