Meet the TikToker Going Viral by Baking His Way Through Great Depression-Era Cookbooks

6/6/2022 10:07:00 PM

When B. Dylan Hollis started making lost-to-time recipes like broiled humdingers and pork cakes, he had no clue he was on the path to TikTok stardom

B. Dylan Hollis's (bdylanhollis) TikTok recipe videos find a second life on the sometimes forgotten, but immensely powerful corner of the internet known as Tumblr

When B. Dylan Hollis started making lost-to-time recipes like broiled humdingers and pork cakes, he had no clue he was on the path to TikTok stardom

“I think a good TikTok personality has to grab people’s attention right away,” she said. “Whereas aesthetic has been the defining factor of Instagram recipe success for years, TikTok success is more dependent on personality.”from earlier this year where he makes an “impossible pie” from 1969, he can barely get through the recipe without laughing, but then his face lights up when he realizes it actually tastes pretty good. What he’s doing is retro on several layers — he’s cooking recipes from the past, and he’s hosting them in his self-described old-fashioned way, but he’s also bringing back the simple joy of the internet taste test, which has gone out of fashion over the last decade as algorithms have pushed food content into formats that can be easily produced by the disembodied hands of faceless creators at an unimaginable scale.

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Richards said that the key to a long-running popular food account on TikTok that isn’t trafficking in hate-shares, whether intentionally or not, is a persona. She said TikTok has a lot of incentives that train creators over time to be more quick and to the point than a YouTuber, which is part of the casual appeal. To combat this, TikTok creator Roni, also known as @percievemepls , came up with an innovative solution that went viral on the app. This is true in Hollis’s case, as well. Some ridiculously stylish you can buy for vacay and beyond. You can binge dozens of his videos in a sitting and realize that barely a few minutes have gone by. Roni said she was sick of her “eyeshadow being covered” by her glasses and so she decided to try the look in the shape of her glasses. “I think a good TikTok personality has to grab people’s attention right away,” she said.

“Whereas aesthetic has been the defining factor of Instagram recipe success for years, TikTok success is more dependent on personality. The result was heavy eyeshadow falling below her eyes and reaching towards her eyebrows, something that looked dramatic without her glasses. Prices and availability are subject to change.” The clever trick with Hollis’s videos is that he’s essentially doing bad food videos, but not producing them for hate shares. Like in a video from earlier this year where he makes an “impossible pie” from 1969, he can barely get through the recipe without laughing, but then his face lights up when he realizes it actually tastes pretty good. Roni has clearly convinced the internet that this is the new gold-standard way to do statement eyes under glasses. What he’s doing is retro on several layers — he’s cooking recipes from the past, and he’s hosting them in his self-described old-fashioned way, but he’s also bringing back the simple joy of the internet taste test, which has gone out of fashion over the last decade as algorithms have pushed food content into formats that can be easily produced by the disembodied hands of faceless creators at an unimaginable scale. I didn’t think it would look the same on me but it did! I highly recommend this bathing suit for everyone!" —. And the fact that Hollis is doing this with old forgotten recipes can make for some unusual content going really viral on TikTok. “Omg it makes the glasses look tinted,” wrote another.

For instance, his top video is a recipe for “peanut butter bread” from the Great Depression. It’s been viewed 32 million times. “If this shows up on a runway I’m coming back to the original,” someone else commented, predicting an editorial future. It’s not only a funny video — it contains an unimaginable amount of baking soda — but Hollis breaks down at the end, almost emotional at how good it tastes. “This is why I bake,” he says to the camera.. The viewers agree, with the top commenter writing, “‘This is why I bake’ is so genuine that I felt it.

I hope you never finish baking.” It’s safe to say that a bunch of people bonding over 100-year-old recipes is not what typically comes to mind when you imagine TikTok food content. But, also, Hollis’s current online popularity isn’t solely thanks to TikTok. He’s also attracted a sizable fandom on the sometimes forgotten, but immensely powerful corner of the internet known as Tumblr. In fact, he’s so popular that, in April, he entered into the site’s top-20 list of web celebrities, according to Cates Holderness, head of editorial at Tumblr.

Holderness told Eater the spike was likely because Hollis did a live video where he finally acknowledged his growing fandom on Tumblr. “It was really funny to see people freaking out in an excited way, like, ‘Oh my gosh, this guy that we love has acknowledged us and thanked us in this really sweet and sincere way’,” she said. “He’s aware that the Tumblr audience is there, but he’s very nervous to interact with it.” Hollis’s videos are regularly downloaded from TikTok and re-uploaded on Tumblr, where they have long, very viral second lives, which is actually common for popular TikTok, in general. But, according to Holderness, the thing that really ignited Hollis’s fandom on the platform was a from 2021 written by a user named thestuffedalligator.

It was shared 25,000 times and reads: The main thing I get from Dylan Hollis cooking old recipes is this: Recipes from the 1910s and the Great Depression are great, and I suspect it’s because they were made by someone with limited resources. But they found a way to make something good, maybe even something fantastic with those limited resources, and they wanted to write it down and share with their friends so that they could also make something out of saltines and potatoes. Recipes from the 1910s and the Great Depression are written down and shared in love. The recipes you should fear come from the 1950s and 1960s, which I’m pretty sure are written down and shared as a form of McCarthyism. “The history side of Tumblr is a very large community,” Holderness said.

“So it’s kind of not surprising that a lot of the recipes that he makes, the older recipes, from the ’20s, from the Great Depression, tend to be very popular. The recipes that are either extremely good or extremely terrible, in general, get the most traction.” For what it’s worth, Hollis agreed with thestuffedalligator’s post, saying the Great Depression recipes are his favorite and the ones from the ’60s are his least favorite; though he doesn’t think that McCarthyism is to blame for why recipes from that era are so inedible. Instead, he thinks it was because bringing Jell-O to a potluck was a way to signify that you had enough money to own a refrigerator, and gelatin was marketed to women as a way to stay slim. “This craze was marketing-based,” he said.

“The ladies of the 1960s were very aware of their figure. Knox gelatin — gelatin itself having no calories — used that as a marketing beacon to promote these things.” Hollis also agrees with his fans that he can’t decide whether his videos are better when he enjoys the recipe or hates it. In fact, he tries very hard not to think about why his videos do well or don’t, saying he’s “repulsed” by the more cynical food creators who save their recipe reveals for a second video to juice engagement. “I don’t feel as if I’m hacking the algorithm,” he said.

“It’s just that you can’t taste something or see the end product until it’s baked. And, naturally, that comes at the end.” As for what comes next for Hollis, he said he isn’t sure, but he is moving back to Bermuda soon, now that he’s graduated. He was clear, though, that he has no plans to join a hype house. He had originally come to America to become a jazz musician and is returning home a popular internet cooking personality, which may not have been the American Dream at the time the pork cake recipe was invented, but may be part of it now.

“The experience itself has been incredible. If it were all to go away now, it would be brilliant,” he said. “Can you tell that it’s difficult for me to describe? It’s a combination of fulfillment and finding — not finding oneself, as that’s a bit too sappy — but just translating into life, and the future, and goals. I want to write a bloody cookbook from these experiences. That’s about it, a desire to keep going and see where it takes one.

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