Pint-Size Star of YouTube Cooking Video Stirs Up Sweet Success
Zaylee Jean loves to watch other kids perform on YouTube. So it wasn't a stretch when the 3-year-old and her parents talked about making a video of the toddler starring in her own "Yippity Yo Cooking Show."
Now, more than 100,000 viewers have watched the energetic child do battle with a spatula and cookie dough, toss flour, demand milk and call her dad "Old Man" in demonstrating how to bake Grandma Wendy's Chocolate Chip Cookies.
"Zaylee Jean loves to help out when we cook, when we allow her to. We got the idea to make a video," her father tells ParentDish in a phone interview. "We said, 'We'll make a video sometime and you can make your own cooking show.' She got all excited."
(Although the family originally posted the video publicly, they requested their names not be used. "There is too much scary stuff out there and people can identify you too easily," the child's dad says. The video has now been removed from YouTube by the family.)
One weekend in January, 2010, shortly after Zaylee Jean's third birthday, her dad says he bought some chocolate chips and set up the video equipment. Before filming, the girl picked out her dress while her mom fixed her hair.
The main reason the family created the "Yippity Yo Cooking Show," the family tells ParentDish, was to have fun and to be able to easily share the video with friends and family -- without having to deal with capturing e-mail addresses to send out a link.
Watching the hits grow from 100 a day to more than 5,000, the couple suspects the popularity of the "Yippity Yo Cooking Show" is due to the fact that many parents can relate to the rambunctiousness of Zaylee Jean's love for chocolate. Mainly, the feedback has been positive, but there are some naysayers out there.
"People with children seem to get it. But people, especially on YouTube, people are going to make fun of you. Commenting with insults," Zaylee Jean's dad says, noting comments that say "we are exploiting our child and should be arrested for child endangerment. You let the comments roll off your back."
His wife of five years chooses not to read the comments, instead focusing on the fun their "very theatrical" daughter had in making the video.
Keeping in mind the attention span of a 3-year-old, the couple says it took about an hour-and-a-half to videotape Zaylee Jean preparing the cookies. Her father spent 20 hours editing the 10-minute piece together.
"It is a lot of editing," Zaylee Jean's mom says.
Zaylee Jean shows her personality in the video, singing her own made-up song, however, her father says she also repeated some of what her parents told her to say. For example, Zaylee Jean mentions Rachael Ray while preparing the batter.
"I don't know if she's really seen Rachael Ray -- maybe Gordon Ramsay," he says with a laugh. "Zaylee Jean's so good at repeating and parroting, but I don't think she has any idea who Rachael Ray is."
Zaylee Jean's parents say she enjoys cooking and during the interview the 3-year-old could be heard "cooking in her Fisher-Price kitchen." But while Zaylee Jean really does enjoy to "cook," her vocabulary is a little different in reality than what you hear in the video.
"We gave her permission to say 'Shut up, old man!' " her dad says, adding that Zaylee Jean has managed to slip that phrase into a couple conversations since the filming.
Zaylee Jean's father says making a video is a "great way" for parents to bond with their children and have fun with their kids, and it's something most parents can do, even if they want to keep it private.
"Kids love that creativity," he says. "I know I did when I was a kid."
Zaylee Jean's family has taped a second video and would like to keep the fun going to not disappoint friends, family and new YouTube fans.
However, fans of Grandma Wendy's recipes and Zaylee Jean's choco-love may be disappointed: Her next video involves birds.
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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.