- A seven-year-old boy named Tariq has become known as the “Corn Kid” on the internet.
- Tariq spoke about how much he loves corn in an interview on a web series titled “Recess Therapy.”
- The show’s creator told Insider how Tariq’s interview unexpectedly exceeded his expectations.
- For more stories, visit Business Insider.
A seven-year-old boy named Tariq became one of the most talked about kids on the internet when he engaged in a passionate discussion about why he loves corn.
In the video, posted Aug. 4 by an Instagram-based kids interview show titled “Recess Therapy,” Tariq described corn as a “big lump with tubers,” and said, “I can’t think of anything nicer,” smiling and loading invites viewers to “have a Corntastic day”.
The internet quickly fell in love with Tariq’s enthusiasm and witty remarks about the veggies, leading to the video going viral overnight on Instagram, where it currently has 27 million views on the Recess Therapy page.
A musicalized version of the audio then exploded on TikTok, where it was used in over 900,000 videos.
Tariq is now a full-blown internet megastar, giving interviews to US talk shows and news outlets while also having the chance to meet and film with America’s biggest YouTuber, MrBeast. His family also set up a temporary account for him on Cameo — a platform where celebrities record personalized messages to fans for a fee — with prices starting at $145, according to Bloomberg.
To top it off, Tariq was honored with the Title “Corn Bassador” in the state of South Dakota.
Julian Shapiro-Barnum, the host of “Recess Therapy,” told Insider he discovered Tariq while filming interviews in Brooklyn, New York, for his show, which is about asking young children their opinions on various topics ask.
He had no idea his harmless questions would lead Tariq to such explosive fame.
“Corn Kid” became a viral hit in a moment that the video’s creator least expected
Shapiro-Barnum told Insider that he typically chooses a specific theme for each of his “Recess Therapy” episodes, such as asking children to explain complex concepts like love. He said his film crew stumbled across Tariq on a summer’s day just before he was about to leave for a week-long vacation.
“We were really exhausted because it was so hot. And we didn’t know if we had what it took to do a whole episode that day, so we were like, ‘What if we just like it, play it really loose and easy? Do you ask kids what their favorite things are?'”
While scouting for kids to interview, he spotted Tariq eating corn at the time, so he asked the seven-year-old for his opinion on the vegetable.
According to Shapiro-Barnum, Tariq was very forthcoming with his responses from the start. “He just threw himself into this whole video that we now know and love. It really came out of nowhere,” he said.
Tariq offered a lengthy explanation of how corn “tasted good” and when he “tried it with butter, everything changed.” Shapiro-Barnum proceeded to ask Tariq what else he likes, to which Tariq listed a few games he enjoyed before quickly returning to talk about his love of corn again. “It’s corn!” he yelled before the video cut to a clip of him biting into the veggies.
After filming the interview, Shapiro-Barnum, who said he was amused by Tariq’s responses and thought they would make good material for his show, flew on vacation to Madrid, where he had no phone service. Finding WiFi in a coffee shop, he posted Tariq’s interview on his show’s social media accounts.
When he next found an internet connection a few days later, he said his phone “exploded” with messages and notifications when the video went viral on Instagram. He spent the rest of his trip wondering if he should come home early.
“It was a fun mix of me really trying to take some time off and really getting into what was going on with the video. I’m so interested in how the videos work that it’s impossible to pull myself away from them completely, especially when they’re circulated as often as this one,” he told Insider.
The viral success has allowed both “Recess Therapy” and Tariq to have a moment in the spotlight
Tariq’s interview exploded on TikTok when a comedy music band called The Gregory Brothers turned sound bits from the clip into a full-length song, which they released to YouTube and TikTok in late August.
TikTok users started creating dances and comedic videos featuring ears of corn as the song gained popularity. Brands were soon using the sound to promote their own products, captioning their videos “I really like corn” (a phrase Tariq said in the interview) and replacing the word “corn” with the company’s name product . Celebrities such as Kevin Bacon and Ashley Tisdale also took advantage of the audio by singing along to the song on their accounts.
Shapiro-Barnum has had several touches of virality in the past, for example when his interview with a young girl who gushed about an upcoming My Little Pony movie went viral on TikTok in April, or when a little Boy told him his love for Komodo dragons went viral Twitter and tiktok.
The Gregory Brothers gave “Recess Therapy” full credit under their now-viral remix of Tariq’s interview, but that wasn’t always the case.
“I think it’s really easy for original content to get lost in the clutter and something to trend as it deviates from its original origin,” he told Insider.
Most importantly, Shapiro-Barnum is pleased that his interview has given Tariq new opportunities for notoriety, telling Insider that he feels like a “proud mom” who helped him make his big break possible.
“It gives me so much joy that this interview was such a success,” he said, adding, “Tariq’s family handled it all with so much grace as well. They really gave him a few weeks of unadulterated freedom to explore all the joys and benefits of going viral.”
For more stories like this, check out Insider’s Digital Culture team’s coverage here.