Michelle Obama would probably not approve of Epic Meal Time.
It’s not that the First Lady is uptight. It’s just that her message of health and fitness doesn’t exactly jibe with Epic Meal Time’s celebration of extreme gluttony.
Take TurBaconEpic Thanksgiving, one of the YouTube channel’s most popular clips (15 million views). For the classic American feast day, the “chefs” on Epic decided to take a pig, stuff it with five birds (a duck, a chicken, a turkey, a Cornish hen and a quail), and of course, coat it with bacon. At 79,046 calories and 6,892 grams of fat, it’s a good guess the pig/bird concoction isn’t going to be on the Obamas’ table this November.
Launched in October 2010, Epic has attracted 2.6 million subscribers and over 430 million views—from just over 100 videos. The show is the brainchild of Montreal brothers Harley and Darren Morenstein, who had actually originally set out to produce workout videos.
“Like every guy, we started with the ‘cheat day,’” said Harley, who quit his job as a schoolteacher after the first two Epic videos generated 100,000 and 500,000 views, respectively.
The weekly shows blend heart-clogging, over-the-top cooking; classic rock; cheesy effects; stoner-guy humor; and lots of cursing. Among Epic’s other recent hits: Bakery Burger Combo (cupcakes loaded with bacon and Jack Daniels, designed to resemble giant hamburgers), Meat Cereal (“It’s like Lucky Charms, only made of chicken flesh,” explained one of the show’s hosts), Pig Head Stew (more Jack Daniels) and Bacon Boss Burger (the bun, head-sized burger patty and cheese are all infused with 500 strips of bacon). No, this is not The French Chef.
Epic Meal Time is at the epicenter of a food-content explosion on YouTube. Recent channel launches include Electus’ Hungry, Food Farmer Earth, Tasted and Foodie TV.
"it's way early, but there's definitely this new generation of YouTube stars," said Electus COO Drew Buckley. "Right now we're just trying to figure out how do we get behind these personalities."
Surely, YouTube fosters the growth of unique personalities. But few are like Epic Meal Time. “When we started this, we were looking for something that didn’t exist,” said Harley. “There is nothing like this.”
Epic has grown to a cast of six actors as well as an in-house ad sales exec. After having worked with Discovery’s Revision3 last year, Epic recently signed with the L.A.-based firm The Collective to handle distribution and ad sales.
Advertisers "are watching this sort of thing very closely," said Suzanne Claassen, svp, digital standards & investments, SMGx. "There's all this new content and new stars on YouTube to align with, and it's a lot less expensive for brands." T-Mobile/Samsung is the show’s current sponsor.
“When people think of foodies, they see someone who is snobby,” explained Harley. “We consider ourselves foodies. Let people think we’re a bunch of dumb guys.”
Dumb guys or not, Epic has plans to add new series and non-food related channels, which Harley declined to discuss.
And with all the crazy calories consumed, the real question at hand is: How long can the show go on? “We’re all getting fat, and we’re gonna die,” said Harley.