With recipes like Tetris cookies, Despicable Me cupcakes and SpongeBob lemon bars, it’s no surprise that Rosanna Pansino’s Nerdy Nummies YouTube channel is responsible for three of YouTube's most viral food videos of 2013. Each adorable episode shows Pansino cooking up one of her sweet, typically frosted, video game– or pop culture–inspired creations. People can’t get enough. The channel has more than a million subscribers; videos like the one about her My Little Pony cupcakes (above) can earn upwards of 5 million views. Here, Pansino chats about her massively popular channel, her future and more.
What’s the history behind your YouTube channel?
I started it a few years ago because a few of my friends were professional YouTubers and they encouraged me. I really like baking and I really like playing video games. I saw a few geeky baking blogs but I never saw a show on television or on the Internet like that. So I thought, Why not be the first to try it out? And it went really well.
What sort of YouTube videos were your friends making?
Gaming videos. My roommate is HuskyStarcraft and he helped start The Game Station. It's called Polaris now, but it was a video game branch of Maker Studios and he moved to California to build that with David Sievers. He was really the first person that I ever knew who did YouTube full time and he did it really well and knew how to interact with people online and grow an audience. And now he’s my manager.
How long does it take to make a video?
Some of the ideas my production crew and I come up with just that week. Sometimes I’ll ask the fans if there’s anything in particular that they’d like to see. I would say it's halfway organized. It usually takes about four days. I don’t make it in real time—it’s kind of like if you ever watch cooking shows, they have a crew that makes things in stages. It takes about four days of prep to get all of the ingredients and test it to make sure I like the recipe and then to bake everything in stages.
How did you go from unknown to YouTube sensation?
I was living in Los Angeles trying to do commercials and it just came to a point where I was losing a lot of time and money going to auditions versus staying home and building my own business. Now we’re a mini production company. I have a camera guy who’s been with me for three years and then my editor and my manager. I started making more videos on a consistent basis about a year ago because the fan base demanded it. They were like, “We want more videos!”
How do you make a video go viral?
I have no clue. Mine don’t follow the usual pattern. Sometimes when a video goes viral it gets a ton of views very quickly, they’ll get a couple of million within a few hours. All of my baking videos, even the more higher viewed ones are like a slow burn. Right away they usually get 200,000 to 400,000 views and then as they sit there for a few months, then they really explode.
What is the strangest request you’ve ever gotten?
My fan base is really, really young. They’re the youngest demographic that you can track on YouTube: 13- to 17-year-old females. But the fan mail that I get in my PO box, they’re all from moms and from kids who are two years old, three years old, four years old. They’re like, “Hi, my name’s Ashley, I’m eight. Can you make panda face?” And I’m like, OK!