TikTok Star Jordan Howlett Spills The Tea On Where He Gets Viral Hacks And Tips From - Exclusive Interview

Jordan Howlett's viral TikTok videos have been featured on everything from the "Today Show" to the New York Post. His informative clips give tips on things like how to get discounts at your favorite fast food chains like Domino's and Subway, how to open a soda can without using your fingers, and how to make the best brownies you've ever eaten by using Dr. Pepper. However, Howlett is the first to admit that he's surprised at how well his content has done. The California native told us in an exclusive interview that he originally thought he'd go on to be a professional athlete after finishing his Division 1 baseball career at UC Riverside.

Then came the pandemic, which halted everything, including his sports dreams. Trying to figure out his next move, Howlett used TikTok as a way to relieve stress and connect with others going through similar things — and he did just that in a very big way. He now has over 10 million followers, and we asked the social media star about his shift in focus and where he gets his clever hacks from. He also told us where he currently stands on the controversial New York versus Chicago pizza debate after initially making waves online with his opinion, and he shared what he ultimately hopes viewers take away from watching his videos.

Why he made the switch from playing Division 1 baseball to making viral food videos

When you were growing up in Southern California, did you always have a curiosity about food?

Oh my goodness, absolutely. I was a foodie my entire life. When I was younger with my grandmother, we baked all the time, and that love for food evolved and bloomed into this weird curiosity about other foods — what things taste like, other things to try, and things of that nature.

I read that you played Division 1 baseball at UC Riverside. How did you move from playing baseball to creating this type of content?

It was a big passion for a long time. Before all this started, I strictly wanted to be a professional baseball player. I hadn't touched a baseball or played a sport until I was 16 years old, so I was awful. I was so bad, and it took so long and a lot of hard work and a lot of different avenues. When I ended up making it to Division 1, I was working real hard on it to where near the end, around my senior year, I had the opportunity to be a major league baseball prospect.

We were trying to talk about getting drafted, and it was something I was so excited about. But then, when Covid had hit and our season stopped, everything fizzled out, and it was this weird transition from athlete to regular human being. It was an interesting transition. When I first started making videos, it was therapeutic. It was something [where] I could talk about my day and I could try all these other things. It seemed like nobody had too much interest, which was fine by me because I could try all these different things. Eventually, people gravitated toward my experiences with work and things of that nature.

It gave me a feeling of, "Okay, I'm more than this person that needs to lift weights and exercise and play a sport. I can do other things. I am more than just the sport I'm playing." It was something that a lot of athletes have trouble with. If and when they do leave the sport, it's like, "Okay, what do I do now?" I devoted so much time to this, and "What are my hobbies? What do I like to do?" That's what videos did for me.

Are you surprised at all with how popular your videos have become?

Every day I am surprised. I'm so grateful that people enjoy what I'm watching or what I'm doing. It's still very surreal to me that people watch my videos and think to themselves, "Hey, this is something I want to share with my friends." It's so cool on a daily basis.

All you want to do is your best for the audience. I say this all the time where my boss is the audience. If this is my job, the audience is my boss. I want to give them everything that I possibly can give them that they want. If they want a certain thing, I want to provide that every single day. Without the audience, there is no creator. Every day, I wake up grateful, trying to provide them as much entertainment as I possibly can. It's been the most fun thing in the world.

Where he gets his food hacks and if he tests them beforehand

Where do you get your clever tips and delicious-looking recipes from?

It takes a lot of research. I've always been a fun-fact guy. There are so many things that you pick up growing up, little knowledge things, things I'll pick up from my grandmother, things I'll pick up from other family members and friends ... then you use that later on. Especially now that I'm older, I'm like, "Hey, what's going on with this thing? How can I make this easier? Or did somebody make this easier, and do people know about it? Do I know about it?"

Even for recipes, same thing — a lot of research. You find the right things [where] you go through the checklist of, "First off, is this legitimate? Does this make sense? Is this actually true?" Then secondly, "Does this benefit people? Can this benefit somebody? Can it help somebody in their life?" Thirdly, "How can I relay this information out to where it is digestible and people can use it and reference it?"

That makes sense. Do you test them all out before you record them?

Majority of the time, I'm testing it out as it goes. I want to make sure that what I am relaying to people is safe, first off, and second, I do want to make sure — to an extent — that it works. But most of the time, I'm doing it right there as we're filming. I want my genuine reaction to things. Everything that I taste is a 100% live reaction. I've not tasted it prior. I want people to get my reaction to things.

There are certain hacks that I've done probably five, six, seven, eight times before I actually think, "Oh, let me show this to people," because I'm like, "Hey, this might work." If there are other hacks where I've heard about it and haven't tried it yet, then we could try it together. I'll film it, and we'll try it and see if it works. It depends on the situation.

Yes, like the soda can-opening hack that you did. Did you do that prior?

Funny enough, when I opened it on camera, that was the first attempt. I knew about the can thing for a while, and I was at the store the day before and was like, "I don't think people know about this. Let me try this out." So I got two cans. I had to leave five minutes after that. I was already running late when I made the video, so I'm explaining it and I'm like, "Well, I hope this works first try," and I did it. I was so happy that it worked first go.

Where he stands on the New York-style versus Chicago-style pizza debate

You created quite the stir when you said that New York pizza was better than Chicago-style before you tried it. What is your take on which is better now?

Oh, goodness gracious. I will say this. I worked at a New York pizza place for about two years plus. All I ate was New York-style pizza for so long, and I loved it. I still love it, but I never tried Chicago-style pizza ever. When I made that statement prior, it was because in my head, I'm thinking, "This New York-style pizza is so good that there's no fathomable way any other pizza has got to taste better, right?"

Then when I went to Chicago, I had to give it a try, and I can't lie to you here. They're both different in a certain way. It's hard for me to say one is better than the other. However, in the heat of the moment when I was eating the pizza, from the marinara sauce to the cheese to the actual dough itself, it was an experience. It was amazing. I can at least say Chicago pizza is a top-tier pizza, hands down. I was so wrong for saying that any pizza was better because that was a top-tier pizza.

They're different styles, but they're equally as good.

Exactly — good in their own ways, very different styles. In the heat of the moment, I was like, "This is the best pizza I've ever had in my life." It was so good.

You've made delicious-looking recipes, from Dr. Pepper brownies to creamy Kraft macaroni and cheese. What's been your favorite dish you've made so far?

That's a great question. My favorite recipe I made was the French toast Uncrustables — the little peanut butter jelly sandwich guys. It's this recipe where it's pretty much French toast but with Uncrustables. You make the French toast batter, which is egg yolk and some ground cinnamon. You mix that batter up and then dip the Uncrustable into it, and you layer the skillet with a lot of good butter, put butter on it, and then you put the Uncrustable onto the skillet.

The outside of the Uncrustable has this French toast texture with this beautiful buttery outside and peanut butter and jelly on the inside. It sent me to another dimension, it was so good. If you want to give it a try, I highly recommend doing it with the strawberry Uncrustables. I was never a big fan of strawberry — I love the grape — but the strawberry mixed with that butter? Oh my God, it's so good.

Some of his insider information comes from the Fast Food Secrets Club

That sounds delicious. You give away secrets like how to get discounts from Subway and why McDonald's Sprite tastes different. How do you know this information, and have any of these fast food places or restaurants contacted you directly about it?

The way that I knew it is quite literally, we had a Fast Food Secrets Club that we started in college. A lot of this stuff we bounced around with each other for a while, and as it continued to grow, [the] more information we learned. It develops day by day.

In regards to if restaurants have contacted me, absolutely, they've contacted me. A lot of them are very good sports. They're in good spirits about it. They actually get a kick out of the fact that people are now interested in a lot more than just one thing or the other. If anything, people are so excited to try getting a discount that I was expecting a lot more businesses to be a lot angrier. But I'm happy that a good amount of them are being pretty good sports about it.

The Fast Food Secrets Club is real?

Oh, yeah. I worked in fast food — or rather, I worked in the customer service industry, predominantly food — for about 12 or 13 years. That was all the way up until college. I've been working since I was about 15, 16. When I got to college, a couple of friends that I knew were working some jobs at other fast food places [too]. We started our little club, our own little group chat, and we called it the Fast Food Secrets Club. We'd share each other's little fast food secrets on how to get discounts at the places where we worked.

For example, one of my buddies worked at Jamba Juice. Whenever there's a secret menu hack or maybe there's a little promotion that not a lot of people know about, he'll text it, like, "Try this out, get this discount, or try this thing." It's not a popular menu item, but it's a secret one. We would send all that out to each other, and it was so fun. I wanted to tell people about it to see if they cared, and people really liked it.

They definitely do! What is your go-to fast food order, and at which restaurant?

That's a great, great question. My go-to fast food order has to be the Epic Cali Burrito from Del Taco. Instead of carne asada, do chicken — ask for the chicken Epic Cali Burrito. There's nothing crazy. There's no secret to that. But it is probably one of the best burritos I've had. It fills you up. It's a big one. It's maybe three bucks, if that. It's literally like plus extra, and your burrito's way bigger. It's so good that I've not been disappointed yet. It was so good.

His least favorite favorite food item and what he hopes viewers take away from his videos

On the flip side, what is your least favorite fast food item, and from where?

In-N-Out fries. I'm very vocal about the fact that In-N-Out fries are very good if you eat them immediately when you order them because they're hot — those are good. But In-N-Out fries have the shortest lifespan in regards to being good until they're not. You have probably 10 minutes until they're not that great anymore. If I wait too late, say 20 minutes after I order them, I can't even do it. It almost makes the meal not that good because I want the fries to be hotter, and the reheating is a bit tough. In-N-Out fries are good if you order them immediately. If you wait too long, not a good one.

I agree. They are also very soggy. I like a crispy hot fry, and I love In-N-Out. I love the burgers, but the fries ... I feel like they're lacking.

In-N-Out as a whole ... If you get an In-N-Out burger, fries, and a drink and you eat all that in one sitting, right when you get it — it's the best thing in the world.

That's fair. Having cooked so many different types of food, what is an ingredient you can't live without?

Garlic salt. It is one of the best additions that you can put into the majority of things that you're cooking. Putting garlic salt on things like popcorn has been amazing ... or other little things, pasta, even some soups. If I'm around or if it's in my home, there will be garlic salt at the house because that is a necessity.

What do you ultimately hope viewers take away from the content that you create?

Ultimately, I want viewers to take away a couple of things. One, I want them to take away that anybody can make good content — anybody can relay good information. If they have things that they want to share, never be afraid to share them. Never be afraid to put yourself out there and see who else resonates with what you're going through. When I was making these videos, I was doing them because I thought for a while that I was alone in a lot of things.

My followers, and people who might not even be followers, they're watching my videos in passing, and they'll let me know that they're going through similar stuff. I thought when I got out of college, it was the end of the world. I thought, "Well, I don't know what I'm going to do in my life. Everything is super stressful. I'm not sure if I'm qualified for anything." I was freaking out. The last thing on my mind was, "Videos are going to do this well," but I did it anyway.

The other thing I want them to take away is never to be afraid to try new things. By making these videos, I've tried more new things than I ever had in my life, and I'm so happy I did. There are things now that I've tried that I can now no longer go without doing. It is the best thing ever. From foods to hacks, it's been the most fun thing.

Follow @jordan_the_stallion8 on TikTok and Instagram.

This interview has been edited for clarity.