In April, local YouTubers JP Lambiase and Julia Goolia celebrated a milestone that could easily be categorized as one of the greatest things they’ve ever done. Their YouTube channel reached 1 million subscribers. To mark the occasion, they did what they do best: They posted a video making a giant YouTube play button out of pizza, a cheeseburger and edible gold.
The couple created Hellthy Junk Food five years ago while living in New York. The project allowed Julia to cook at home while JP was still able to enjoy his favorite take out, and they documented every copycat recipe and giant food item on YouTube. Now, the idea is paying off.
“We’ve been slowly growing thanks to collaborations and just posting, in our opinion, quality content,” Julia says.
A copycat video recreating Burger King’s Mac n’ Cheetos, the trendiest fast food item of fall 2016, is what put them in the YouTube spotlight. While they knew it would go over well with viewers, they didn’t expect it to go viral. But within 24 hours, their numbers jumped from five subscribers an hour to 100 subscribers an hour.
“That was the turning point,” JP says of the video that now has over 2 million views. “That video is what launched us into a new bracket.”
Now, over 400 videos are posted on the Hellthy Junk Food channel, ranging from a giant Cadbury Egg to a copycat recipe of Hattie B’s famous Nashville Hot Chicken. Typically, the idea takes precedence over the recipe, and viewers will see the wins and the fails as they figure out how to make it.
“It’s different than being a specialist at something,” Julia says. “We’re not specialists at anything. We are a DIY channel, and most of the time we’re trying something for the first time.”
In their own words, the greatest thing they’ve ever done is…
Julia: Creating a giant chicken nugget that tasted and looked just like a McDonald’s boot.
JP: Putting a pizza inside a burger inside a pizza.
So do JP and Julia have advice for others who want to become YouTube famous?
First, come up with a sustainable idea that allows you to build a library of content then post a video at least once a week to compete online with other channels. Most importantly, make sure you like filming and editing so it doesn’t feel like work.
“Always make something that you’re proud of because it’s like you’re investing in yourself,” JP says, noting that viewers can stumble on early videos, and you want to be proud of that first impression.
“I would also add that it’s all about loving what you do,” Julia says. “You have to take something that’s your hobby and be able to display it easily and well.”
As long as viewers are still responding, Hellthy Junk Food will continue making videos “for the hellth of it.”