How ‘Epic Meal Time’ Improvised Their Way to 5M Subs & 3 Channels

/ Jun 25, 2013

EMT All Team (2)

Nothing’s more synonymous right now with drunken debauchery, heapings of bacon, and ridiculous calorie counts than Epic Meal Time. Six Canadians have turned a friend’s diet cheat day into over 5 million YouTube subscribers, three channels, and their own branded line of clothes and cooking materials with little more than some improvisation and a whole bunch of fast food.

Feast for the Eyes

Back in October of 2010, Alex Perrault, “Muscles Glasses,” began work as a personal trainer and was combining working out six days a week with a healthy diet. But show host Harley Morenstein walked him through his first break from his diet with a gargantuan order from the local Wendy’s and filmed the fast-food feast. The success of that video led to the first episode of Epic Meal Time, “Fast Food Pizza” where the crew baked tacos, burgers, McNuggets and more into a pizza. Harley remembers, “As soon as the first episode passed 120,000 views, I had enough YouTube know-how at that point — you know, creating six horrible shows that had failed miserably — to realize that this was a good starting point, a good foundation to continue making videos consistently.”

They’ve released a new video on nearly every Tuesday since, while also expanding into a “Chopped”-inspired “Epic Chef” cooking competition (hopefully returning for a second season soon) and a how-to cooking show called “Handle It.”

But before there was Epic Meal Time the business powerhouse produced with Collective Digital Studio, Epic Meal Time had to define itself. “The videos came first, the views came first,” says Morenstein. Even in the second episode, the group finished filming and wondered, “How do we end this?” So Morenstein offered, “I know, next time we eat a tiger. So people subscribe. It was kind of meant to have people subscribe — like, ‘Shit, I gotta tune in next week when he eats a tiger.’” The more Epic Meal Time grows, the more it seems like that quick and clever thinking is essential to the whole process.

It also requires a healthy helping of confidence: “We never consult anyone except just ourselves,” says Morenstein, pointing out that professional chefs have “probably cooked this as many times as we have — never. So we just figure it out.” The crew is always shocked to receive developed liquor-based sauces and recipes from fans since Team Cuisine, chefs Josh “Epic Mook” Elkin and Ameer “Prince Atari” Atari, have “just been dumping liquor into our food.”

That confidence doesn’t always work out, though: “I personally don’t like turtles — which we’ve cooked before. A couple of guys don’t like chicken hearts. So we’re, you know, figuring out tastes and stuff as we go along, finding our limits and whatnot,” says Morenstein. In his mind, Team Cuisine deserves their “Handle It” channel for both that daring and for their expertise: “I really think about it, they’re the number one online chefs in the world, and they didn’t know anything about cooking a couple years ago. Now we’ve been consolidating all of these recipes and putting them in a cookbook, and it’s like, ‘Hey,  I don’t know anything about cooking but I sell a cookbook, so anyone in the world can do what they want if they put their heart to it.’”

Dave “Cousin Dave” Heuff also frequently hosts the “Handle It” channel. Morenstein notes, “the first couple eighty episodes of Epic Meal Time were edited by me and I totally showed [Cousin Dave] how to edit; now he has a broader knowledge of editing software than I do — Final Cut, Premiere Pro.” Reflecting on on the group’s efforts, he adds, “We’re trying out new things, trying a lot of fun things. We kind of, at this moment, have a great responsibility with our channel to educate a lot of people and keep the attitude epic.”

Harley

Financial Success

Needless to say, viewership has since expanded millionfold and Epic Meal Time has responded in kind. “We built up the business piece by piece, from just starting with t-shirts to going further into apps and getting better ad sales,” summarized Morenstein. The Epic Meal Time cookware is currently sold out, but “We bank a lot on our merchandise. Our cookbook has 24 recipes in it. We have about 170 recipes at this moment, so we’re already writing the next cookbook. We have a lot of drink recipes; we’re writing the next drink-book. We’re writing some songs. Ancient love songs. We’ve contracted some people to create songs themed with Epic Meal Time, one of which we made into music video.”

That many recipes also means they’ve hit a groove. Morenstein shrugs off the difference between him and his onscreen persona as habit: “Once I’m on Epic Meal Time in the kitchen, the bacon’s cooking and the liquor’s flowing, that’s just a little inspiring to me.” Sadly, those same weekly habits have affected his love of Jack Daniel’s, giving it “like a Monday-morning taste now” that’s led to primarily Jameson and some other liquors.

So a long history of making things up as they go along combined with tried-and-true standards gives them a lot of wiggle room. Morenstein points out that “We don’t film every single day. We fill up days which we dedicate to programming.” Though “we never have an Epic Meal Time made two months before,” Morenstein explains that while the group usually plans meals “about two or three months in advance,” it does not follow a strict schedule since “we still like it to be somewhat relevant to what’s going on at that time.”

The Future

When you’re dealing with a man who eats items with hundreds of thousands of calories for a living, the easy joke is that he obviously has a lot on his plate. But outside the kitchen, Morenstein really does. For the two projects he was able to talk about, he mentioned the epic attitude again, saying “It’s not like everything we’re filming is Epic Meal Time.”

After releasing a gaming app in July of 2012, they’re currently planning their second one. He says “We’re currently putting together a ton of content that has never been seen before” — behind-the-scenes videos and more — as well as “consolidated Twitter, Instagram feeds, and stuff like that.”

Along with the pending second season of “Epic Chef,” the guys are still working on “Epic Tool Time.” Morenstein says, “we’re taking the whole Epic Meal Time mentality and leaving the kitchen and applying it to other things. Epic Meal Time is food porn and we do lots of things that are so dumb that they’re smart. Epic Tool Time will be closer to furniture porn, where we’ll create awesome things that are so stupid they’re smart.”

Then there’s also the three-year aniversary to plan for in October. Morenstein joked, “We got Rob Schneider to direct that episode, we’re just gonna be hosting it, and we’re gonna release it on YouPorn so we can show full-frontal nudity and penetration.” He held a beat and added, “Everything I just said is a lie.” But whatever they really end up doing, it’ll be bigger, better, ballsier, and bacon-er.

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,


emerging sports channel on YouTube

5 Emerging Sports Channels on YouTube

Read today's digital video news stories

Quick Breaks: Fine Brothers to Fund More Content; Rooster Teeth...

WWE

Facebook and WWE Team Up for ‘WrestleMania 31′ Highlights

whalerock to launch digital channels

5 Hacks for Niche Video Content Owners and Creators to Win in 2015

Jenn-McAllister-JennXPenn-credit-Getty-Images

JennXPenn Lands Book Deal with Scholastic

schick ms labelled

Schick’s New Web Series: Not Razor-Sharp, but Not Terrible

Digital video industry news today

Friday 3.27.15: News to Know

lakeshore entertainment

Lakeshore Entertainment Launches Digital Studio with a Focus on...

Read today's digital video news stories

Quick Breaks: Sling TV Gets More Channels, CDS Pairs with Food...

VideoInk and Hollyshorts Team to Produce Bicoastal Monthly Event...

Copa90 Pitch International

Pitch International Invests in Online Soccer Network Copa90

Grace Helbig

Listen to Grace Helbig Describe Her New E! Show to Jimmy Fallon

FacebookVSYoutube

Measuring Branded Video Success on YouTube vs. Facebook

vice

Vice to Get Prime Placement on HBO Now

Digital video industry news today

Thursday 3.26.15: News to Know

'Derek Special' debuting on Netflilx April 3

WATCH THIS: Netflix Debuts Trailer for Hour-Long ‘Derek...

Periscope is Twitter's live-streaming video app

Twitter Launches Its Own Live-Streaming App, Periscope

Youtube_sad

Going OTT Won’t Mean Much If Streaming Quality Sucks (Study)

Youtube_003

The Must-Know Tricks for Growing Your Audience on YouTube

Read today's digital video news stories

Quick Breaks: Nielsen to Start Measuring Netflix and Amazon by...

The Road, flagship web series on SXSW On

Web Series Wednesday: Listen to These Shows

facebookvideo

Here’s How Facebook Plans to Get More Creators to Upload Natively

cricket world cup

SendtoNews Extends Sports Syndication Deal with IMG and...

Facebook making yet another push for video

Facebook Wants Exclusive Video from Publishers, Updates...

jukinmediafailarmy

Get Ready for More ‘Fail Army’ on TV (Outside of the US)

twitchtube

YouTube to Relaunch Live-Streaming Service with Focus on eSports...

Digital video industry news today

Wednesday 3.25.15: News to Know

carmilla

Defy Media Signs ‘Carmilla’ Creators VerveGirlTV

Read today's digital video news stories

Quick Breaks: SourceFed Adds New Host, Endemol Beyond Grows Sales Team

Chelsea Crockett has a new series...on TV

YouTuber Chelsea Crockett Talks Her New TV Show

Vevo Super Fan Showdown

Vevo and Kids at Play Bring Back ‘Super Fan Showdown’

black list awesomenesstv

AwesomenessTV to Produce 2013 Black List Script ‘Shovel...

Brian Robbins of AwesomenessTV

AwesomenessTV to Screen at MIP Digital Fronts

Taryn Southern as an influencer in the Influencer Outreach Network

ION Launches Platform to Connect Marketers with Digital Influencers

Funny or Die Valuation

Funny or Die Close to Sale for $198 Million to MTV/Viacom

tastemade

Tastemade Brings Linear ‘Tastemade TV’ Stream...

Young Hollywood

Young Hollywood Debuts on Apple TV with Exclusive, Long-Form Content

Digital video industry news today

Tuesday 3.24.15: News to Know

YouTube YouTube YouTube

Ovation TV Launches YouTube MCN, Pitches Creators Various TV...