How the Annoying Orange Became a Million-Dollar Idea

By Molly Mogren |
ORANGE

This excerpted from the blog Hey Eleanor, in which writer Molly Mogren catalogs her year doing something she is afraid of every day. You can read her full interview here.

You know when someone tells you they have a million dollar idea...and you’re all like, “That sounds amazing!” but you’re really rolling your eyes and thinking, “Good luck, buddy!” Those ideas aren’t even half as weird as the one Dane Boedigheimer came up with in 2009. And yet, this North Dakota–raised, L.A.-based actor/writer/filmmaker is the mind behind one of the most successful channels on YouTube. 

Since launching the first Annoying Orange video, Daneboe has scored a TV series, video game, a line of toys, T-shirts, costumes and more than two billion (!) views on YouTube. So how did he have the guts to dedicate his life to creating an irritating, talking orange? He explains.

Dane. An anthropomorphic orange that says annoying things. How did you come up with this idea? Do you do a lot of drugs?

Ha-ha, no. No drugs. Just a weird imagination. I’ve always loved bringing inanimate objects to life and toying with how these things would react in a human world. Food is a perfect example of that because there’s the constant threat of being sliced, chopped, stabbed, ground up and eaten. Right from the get-go you’ve got an external conflict that characters have to worry about and deal with. 

I heard through the grapevine (puns!) that you quit a perfectly fine job to pursue your dream to make your own videos. What was taking that leap of faith like? I think I would’ve thrown up at least once.

I was working for a newspaper (the Bakersfield Californian), making videos for their website. It was a lot of fun and the people I worked with were awesome. But at the same time, I was doing content that didn’t fulfill me completely. I wanted to take that leap and try doing things on my own. Yeah, it was extremely scary never knowing where and when the next paycheck was going to come. I was constantly scrounging the Internet for new ways to make money doing videos: video contests, contract work for promo videos, online video sites that paid for content, etc. I just dedicated myself to always looking for new ways to make it work.

How’d creating that first Annoying Orange video go? Do you ever revisit the first episode just to be like, “Wow! I’ve come a long way!”?

It’s surreal to look at that first video and how it laid the groundwork for everything after it. A simple minute and a half video of an orange annoying an apple became the foundation for a huge brand. Still blows my mind. Creating it was just like creating any of my other videos. I came up with the idea, wrote it, filmed it and posted it all in a few days. I never expected anything to come of it...it was just another video. People loved the character though and wanted more, and pretty soon it took on a life of its own. 

When did you realize you’d created something big?

The fourth episode. At that point, I uploaded the video and it had a million views by the next day. Back in 2009 that was huge. It was at that point I decided to go full YouTube. I quit all my contract work, and concentrated on just making the Annoying Orange series. 

I personally find bananas to be the most annoying food (they bruise so easily), followed by chicken wings (so gross to eat in public, yet so delicious). What do you think is the most annoying food in real life?

Freaking shrimp sushi. I have never—not once—had shrimp sushi that is good. I love sushi. I could eat it every day. I also love shrimp. But for the love of everything that is holy, can we stop trying to put shrimp on sushi? Every single time I’ve had it, it’s rubbery and gross. I’ve been to some amazing sushi places, and every time the shrimp sushi is disgusting. I may be alone here, but I’d love it if this was not a thing anymore. 

Follow Daneboe & the Annoying Orange on YouTube. Of course, you can subscribe to my YouTube page, too (and to save you time, this is probably the best video there). Only 999,970 more followers to go until I reach one million!

I want to hear your Everyday Eleanor story. Email me at heyeleanorproject [at] gmail.com.

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