The Untold Truth Of My Drunk Kitchen's Hannah Hart

In the first "My Drunk Kitchen" (MDK) episode, a highly-intoxicated Hannah Hart attempts to demonstrate how to cook a grilled cheese and, well, let's just say it doesn't end as expected. But while Hart's sandwich didn't turn out the way she intended, what happened after she uploaded that video to YouTube left her something greater than she anticipated: the admiration of thousands. Ten years after that video took off, Hart has racked up over 2 million subscribers and become one of the most influential YouTube stars in the world, as well as an LGBT+ activist, and bestselling author (per her website). On top of that, she's toured the country, starred in her own Food Network show, acted in three movies, appeared in a Taylor Swift video, started a self-help podcast, and somehow found the time to get married.

With a track record like that, it's not surprising that Hart has managed to stay in the online content game for this long. The YouTube vet just celebrated 10 years of being online earlier this year. These days, she still keeps up YouTube, but can generally be found streaming on Twitch, according to her recent activity (via YouTube). And while Hart's life has been on public display for the better part of the last decade, she's done a good job of being selective about what aspects of her private life she chooses to share. Keep reading to learn some facts about this internet legend that even the biggest Hartosexuals (asher fans call themselves) might not know. 

At first, Hannah Hart didn't earn a lot of money from YouTube

With countless people landing record deals, brand partnerships, and modeling contracts via TikTok, it seems all it takes to be successful on today's internet is a little bit of luck and knowledge about algorithms. But as Hannah Hart explained in a 2016 interview with Cosmopolitan, the path to online success back in 2011 when she shared the first "MDK," wasn't as clear cut. 

"There was no such thing as a YouTube celebrity yet. I grew with the platform simply by nature of being there," she recalled. To make anything happen, creators like Hart had to figure out how to both grow their audiences and maintain their attention by posting regular content. This may be why the "MDK" star made it clear she doesn't agree with being characterized as an overnight success. "The assumption that I made one video and became a millionaire is far from the truth," she remarked.

She elaborated on how having a lot of subscribers didn't necessarily translate into earning a lot of money, particularly during those early years on the web. Nine months after the first "MDK" video went live, she quit her day job to focus on YouTube full time, but by mid-2012, the little ad money she earned from her videos wasn't cutting it. "I was broke. I started selling merchandise online, which gave me more direct money. Every person who bought a T-shirt was like a little investor."

The sentimental origins of the Harto channel name

Millions of fans recognize the "Harto" name and associate it with many ventures Hart has involved herself in — whether it's "MDK", her charitable work, or her food tours. It's currently her handle for all of her social media platforms, including her YouTube channel. But you may still be wondering: Where did the "O" come from?

Since Hart has mentioned she idolizes Oprah Winfrey (via Bustle), one might assume her channel name "Harto," is simply a spin on "Harpo Productions," Winfrey's production company. But while Hart's love for the former talk show host and media mogul can't be denied, Hannah Hart's channel name actually comes from an entirely different source — her semester abroad in Japan, according to Autostraddle. "[In Japanese] it literally translates to 'flower heartshape,'" she told the publication. "My Youtube name, Harto, is actually [pronounced] hah-to, which is what everybody called me when I lived in Japan," Hart explained in a Q and A video on her channel. "Harto, which [translates] to heart, pronounced Japanese-style."

In a later interview with Larry King, the "Electra Woman and Dyna Girl" actor noted that over years, her brand name has come to represent even more. "To try and find healthy compartmentalization, I think of what I do as Harto. It's building this community there ... It also represents reckless optimism, and ... by nature I am a pretty pessimistic person. Harto stands for [reckless optimism], and that's something I remind myself everyday."

Hannah Hart almost gave up on YouTube during her first year on the platform

Although the very first "My Drunk Kitchen" video went viral and earned Hannah Hart the attention of Time magazine, she remained doubtful of YouTube's potential as a viable job. She admitted in an interview on The Daily Show that throughout 2011, she still had to work part-time while uploading videos every three weeks to make ends meet. At one point, she even questioned continuing with "My Drunk Kitchen" at all because of the harmful impact it could have on her professional life. "I thought that every job I applied to [would] Google my name ... and [they] would find all these embarrassing videos" Hart admitted to Google

That feeling didn't go away, even as her subscriber count went up. In a separate interview with Behind the Brand, Hart recalled how she felt directionless even after two years into her online career. "I looked at 2012 a totally failed year.... I spent a year taking meetings and I felt shoehorned. I was talking to agencies that were trying to find a way to sell "My Drunk Kitchen" as a TV show, and I did not want to do that... I didn't want to build a brand off of being drunk."

Thankfully, things changed for the better in 2013 when Hart decided to embark on a crowd-funded tour (via YouTube) across the country, wherein she filmed videos in fans' kitchens in addition to leading local charity events. In the end, the project turned out to be a massive success, with Hart surpassing her $50,000 goal by nearly $150,000, thus allowing her to expand the tour from 10 to 22 cities, and ultimately, saving her YouTube career.

Hannah Hart is not as big of a drinker as you may think

Hart may be famous for knocking back cocktails on camera for "My Drunk Kitchen," but when it comes to her personal life, she's not exactly known for getting wild. "I hardly drink outside the videos," she once divulged to Time. Of course, that may leave fans wondering why make a show called "My Drunk Kitchen" in the first place? Hart has an answer: "My Drunk Kitchen isn't a celebration of alcoholism," she explained in a video on her channel. "...It's really a show about effort and acceptance. Giving it your all then super messing up, and kind of being proud of yourself in the end."

And before you start doubting the authenticity of her videos, allow us to stop you there. As confirmed by Hart in a Cosmopolitan interview, what you see in her videos is real and not acting: she actually is getting inebriated. However, "My Drunk Kitchen" is just one aspect of her life, and not necessarily representative of who she is all the time. This isn't to say she doesn't drink at all outside of filming. She's a sucker for a good 12-year single malt Scotch, according to The Daily Beast. But if you happen to encounter the YouTuber out in the world, don't expect her to jump at the opportunity to go bar-hopping. "People come up to me like, 'You wanna do shots?' and I'm like Jesus Christ! It's 11 AM," she joked during an interview with Google.

Hannah Hart endured tough times in her childhood

Hannah Hart's "Draw My Life" video from 2013 was one of the first times fans learned any details about the YouTube star's upbringing in the California Bay Area. And while Hart's ever-optimistic tone throughout the video is inspiring, she made it abundantly clear her family endured some pretty difficult times. One of the most shocking details Hart revealed was that as a child, her mother struggled to make ends meet, which left her and her sister to fend for themselves when it came to basic necessities like clothes and food. "I used to get on the playground and play this game I like to call, 'Will she eat it?'....It basically meant that if anybody had something in their lunch they didn't want, they could give it to me," she said. She added, "That meant something like a fig newton or a big burrito, and they'd put ketchup and various sorts of extras on it to make it gross ... and they'd ask 'Will she eat it?' and I would."

Years later, Hart has stated she's taken steps to process her past traumas (noting that writing her memoir "Buffering" has helped), but she nevertheless acknowledges her experiences still affect her to this day (via ABC News). Speaking about that specific playground food experience with the late talk show host Larry King in 2019, she quipped, "If that wasn't the onset of using comedy as a coping mechanism, I don't know what was."

How Hannah Hart came to terms with her identity

Hannah Hart is regarded as one of the most popular LGBTQ icons of the digital age. In addition to having served on the board for GLAAD, she frequently uses her own platform to amplify other LGBTQ voices, including through her YouTube miniseries "My Coming Out Story," where she engages in conversations with other LGBT+ creators about sexuality and identity (via Insider). On top of that, back in 2016, she inked a deal with Lionsgate to produce a same-sex romantic comedy, according to NBC News. But for Hart, embracing her identity as an openly and publicly LGBT+ person wasn't always easy.

In fact, according to Out Magazine, for a long time, Hart didn't necessarily feel like her sexuality was something she needed to broadcast to the world at all, since it wasn't particularly relevant to her content. It wasn't until CNN host Anderson Cooper had to release a statement after being outed publicly on TV that she decided it was for the best to release a video on her own channel to avoid any future drama. "I never wanted [my community] to feel like I was keeping a secret from them, so I decided 'I'm going to get ahead of it,'" she explained during an interview with Google. So in that sense, it wasn't so much about coming out of hiding, but rather, taking her narrative into her own hands.

Why Hannah Hart loves cooking

Hart has admitted she doesn't have any culinary training and has never claimed to be a chef (via Autostraddle). Instead, she prefers the term "food enthusiast" (via YouTube). But that hasn't stopped her from attempting to whip up some pretty elaborate creations on "MDK." From heart-shaped enchiladas, to ramen burgers, eggs benedict, and salmon-stuffed crepes, you can find countless videos of an intrepid Hart fearlessly tackling recipes many of her followers wouldn't dare to try, even with a sober mind. 

It's possible this enthusiasm is what instilled in her the drive to publish two best-selling cookbooks. However, according to Hart, her passion for cooking has less to do with the impressiveness of a meal, and more so the social aspect of making a meal for someone. During an interview with Instant, she quipped that she loves inviting people over to her house to cook for them. But as for what she cooks? The "I Hart Food" host said her go-to meal is any pasta, but specifically "spaghettata" ("midnight spaghetti," or any pasta dish you throw together before passing out, per Food Republic) because it allows her to multitask. For a social butterfly like Hart, this allows her the freedom to entertain others while it cooks. "You can be in two places at once when you make pasta," she remarked. "It's not like I'm like 'Oh I gotta [leave the room and] poach the fish. ...It's also something everybody loves."

Hannah Hart's terrifying pre-wedding experience

After postponing their 2020 wedding due to the COVID-19 pandemic (via Youtube), it makes sense that Hannah Hart and her wife Ella Mielniczenko were more than ready to finally tie the knot earlier this summer. So when they finally were able to celebrate their nuptials with a gorgeous ceremony in the California central coast (via Instagram), their excitement couldn't be overstated. Hart had spent the extra year teasing viewers about everything from her outfit reveal video to the location on her channel. They even came up with a clever wedding hashtag for the event: "#HellaGoodWedding," a portmanteau of the duo's first names, Ella and Hannah, as well as a linguistic tribute to Hart's Bay Area roots (via The Knot).

But if there's one thing Hart's fans have come to understand through years of watching "My Drunk Kitchen," it's that sometimes no matter how much you plan for the best, accidents still happen — even during your wedding weekend. In a post to her Instagram, Hart shared that upon arriving at the venue for their nuptials, she and her then-fiancé overshot the parking space, which nearly caused them to drive over a ledge into a patio. Thankfully, no one was seriously hurt.

Still, while these incidents certainly threw a monkey wrench into their wedding day, Hart and her fiancé kept their spirits high. "There is so much love and gratitude going around and I just wanted to share some extra loving gratitude to these particular moments which could have been filled with panic and anger but instead [were] met with irony and laughter," Hart wrote in the caption on her Instagram post.

The person who makes Hannah Hart feel starstruck

As the host of "My Drunk Kitchen,"  Hart is no stranger to rubbing elbows with big names in the entertainment world. In addition to producing videos alongside literal YouTube royalty like the Vlog Brothers and Try Guys, she's hosted several ultra-famous stars on her show, including Seth Rogen and celebrity chef Jamie Oliver. And while most people would surely freak out if they had any movie star in their kitchen, Hannah chops it up with these A-listers with ease, pouring drinks for them as if they were her neighbor she had over for dinner.

It turns out there is one star in particular who to this day leaves Hart feeling totally starstruck fangirl: Sir Patrick Stewart. During an interview with Elizabeth Banks, Hart gushed about the British actor, and revealed she is a long-time superfan of him and the television series "Star Trek." During a separate interview with Google, Hart revealed she even named her hairless cat Charles Xavier after Stewart's character in X-Men, Professor X. 

For this reason, it makes perfect sense that Hart has stated several times that Stewart remains the one celebrity she's dying to one day meet, coming second only to Beyoncé. Apparently, she came close to making that dream a reality after she worked with Glen Close, who offered to introduce her to the "Star Trek actor" during a day he was near the set they were on. Unfortunately, Hart missed his arrival. As she recalled to Banks, it may have been for the best since the second she learned he was near, she went into total fangirl mode. "I was like oh my god, oh my god, it's happening! Blessedly, he was not there [on set] that day," she quipped with a nervous smile. 

Hannah Hart's tattoo may have predicted her future

People get tattoos for a myriad of aesthetic and personal reasons. For Hannah Hart, her tattoos carry significant meaning. She currently has an alchemy symbol on her ankle, which she has said is her reminder to "stay grounded". But she also has another piece of ink that may leave some fans wondering if it may have manifested her success. 

In a video on her channel, Hart revealed she has a tattoo of a play/pause button directly above her heart on her chest. According to the YouTuber, her initial reason for getting the ink was to give herself a visual reminder to stay motivated during a time in her life when she was feeling particularly down. At a glance, it seems like a totally cool and fitting piece of body art for someone whose entire career relies on creating video content. But here's the kicker: She got the tattoo years before she ever uploaded a single YouTube video. Though Hart herself has never admitted whether she thinks she manifested her future, it's still a pretty fun fact to think about.

Plus, while the design may have once had an entirely different meaning to Hart, she embraces what it represents now. "When YouTube started it became hilarious [to me] because I literally have a play button tattooed on my body."