- A seven-year-old boy named Tariq has become known as the “Corn Kid” all over the internet.
- Tariq spoke about how much he loves corn in an interview on a web series called “Recess Therapy.”
- The show’s creator told Insider how Tariq’s interview went unexpectedly beyond his expectations.
A seven-year-old boy named Tariq became one of the most talked about kids on the internet when he launched into an impassioned discussion about why he loves corn.
In the video, posted on August 4 by an Instagram-based childrens’ interview show called “Recess Therapy,” Tariq described corn as a “big lump with knobs,” saying, “I can’t imagine a more beautiful thing,” before smiling and inviting viewers to “have a corntastic day.”
The internet quickly fell in love with Tariq’s enthusiasm and witty remarks about the vegetable, causing the video to go hugely viral overnight on Instagram, where it currently has 27 million views on “Recess Therapy’s” page.
A musicalized version of the audio then blew up on TikTok, where it’s been used in over 900,000 videos.
Tariq is now a full-blown internet megastar, giving interviews with US talk shows and news organizations, while also getting 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 in exchange for a fee — with prices starting at $145, according to Bloomberg.
To top it all off, Tariq was honored with the title of “Corn-bassador” in the state of South Dakota.
Julian Shapiro-Barnum, the host of “Recess Therapy,” told Insider he discovered Tariq when he was filming interviews in Brooklyn, New York for his show, which revolves around asking young children for their opinions on various topics.
He had no idea that his innocuous questions would propel Tariq to such an explosive level of fame.
The ‘Corn Kid’ became a viral hit at a moment the video’s creator least expected
Shapiro-Barnum told Insider he usually picks a specific theme for each of his “Recess Therapy” episodes, such as asking kids to explain complex concepts like love. He said his filming crew stumbled across Tariq on a summer day just before he was about to go on a week-long vacation.
“We were really wiped out because it was so hot. And we didn’t know if we had it in ourselves to do a full episode that day, so we thought, ‘What if we just like play it really loosey-goosey and just ask kids what their favorite things are?'”
As he was looking around for kids to interview, he spotted Tariq, who was 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 answers from the get-go. “He just launched himself into this whole video that we now know and love. It really came out of nowhere,” he said.
Tariq offered an extensive explanation of how corn “tasted good” and when he “tried it with butter everything changed.” Shapiro-Barnum went on to ask Tariq what other things he liked, at which point Tariq listed a few games he enjoyed, before quickly circling back to discuss his love of corn again. “It’s corn!” he screamed, before the video cut to a clip of him biting into the vegetable.
After filming the interview, Shapiro-Barnum, who said he was amused by Tariq’s answers and thought they would make good material for his show, flew Madrid on vacation, where he didn’t have phone service. When he found WiFi in a coffee shop, he posted Tariq’s interview on his show’s social media accounts.
The next time he found an internet connection a few days later, he said his phone “exploded” with messages and notifications as the video went viral on Instagram. He spent the rest of his trip wondering whether he should come home early.
“It was a funny mix of me truly trying to take time off and really being absorbed in what was going on with the video. I care so deeply about how the videos are doing so it is impossible for me to fully disconnect from them, especially when they are being circulated as much as this one,” he told Insider.
Going viral has allowed both ‘Recess Therapy’ and Tariq to have a moment in the spotlight
Tariq’s interview blew up on TikTok when a band called The Gregory Brothers, who specialize in comedy music, turned soundbites from the clip into a full-length song, which they posted on YouTube and TikTok in late August.
TikTok users began creating dances and comedic videos involving ears of corn as the song became more and more well-known. Soon, brands were using the sound to promote their own products, by captioning their videos, “For me, I really like corn,” (a phrase said by Tariq in the interview) and replacing the word “corn” with the name of the company’s product. Celebrities including Kevin Bacon and Ashley Tisdale also made use of the audio by singing along to the song on their accounts.
Shapiro-Barnum has had several brushes with virality in the past, for example, when his interview with a young girl gushing about an upcoming “My Little Pony” movie became a viral TikTok sound back in April, or when a young boy telling him about his love of komodo dragons went viral on Twitter and TikTok.
The Gregory Brothers gave “Recess Therapy” full credits underneath their now-viral remix of Tariq’s interview, but that hasn’t always been the case.
“I think it’s really easy for original content to get lost in the shuffle and for something to become a trend while becoming divorced from where it originally came,” he told Insider.
Most of all, Shapiro-Barnum is happy that his interview was able to give Tariq new opportunities for exposure, telling Insider he feels like a “proud mom” who helped facilitate his big break.
“It brings me so much joy that this interview took off in such a large way,” he said, adding, “Tariq’s family have also handled it all with so much grace. They’ve really given him a good few weeks of unadulterated freedom with exploring all of the joys and benefits of going viral.”
For more stories like this, check out coverage from Insider’s Digital Culture team here.