Jillian and Addie McLaughlin are a new kind of candy celebrity.
At just 9 and 7 years old respectively, they weren’t in any television commercials; they haven’t invented any confections; and they’ve never even been to a candy show. But that hasn’t stopped them from finding fame in the confectionery world.
The girls are the famous faces behind the incredibly popular YouTube channel, BabyTeeth4, and their videos get so many views that they already bring in enough money that their dad was able to quit his job as an accountant.
In fact, “Babyteeth4” is the most viewed candy review show in the world. More than 150 million viewers have watched the girls review, unbox, taste and rate candies in just the past year alone. And the channel has more than 240,000 subscribers.
“Typically our channel receives 600,000-700,000 views per day,” says their dad, Bob McLaughlin. “Babyteeth4 has influenced the buying and candy-eating habits of millions of viewers. The ad revenue from the videos has enabled my family to pursue this as a full-time passion!”
It all started back when Jillian was just 1. Her dad decided to create a video invitation for her birthday party, which eventually turned into making more and more videos with his girls.
“They were doing them for our family, just as family entertainment,” their dad says. “We were doing little fairy tales pretty much from the time they were almost born.”
Then, the family got a little lucky. Bob and the two girls created a video called “Fast Cars, Bad Kids,” showing the girls driving a car in what appears to be a car chase. It was posted back in 2010 and has since gotten more than 81 million views.
“It’s one of those things, if I had initially tried to make it happen, I probably would have never made it happen.”
After that, it was just a matter of turning their newfound fame into a steady stream of views. And that’s where the candy reviews come in. Easier to shoot than a mini-movie, they turned out to be the perfect outlet for the girls.
Eventually, their channel was getting so many views, and by extension, so much ad revenue, that Bob was able to quit his job. Although he admits it’s still a bit odd to come to grips with his family’s new form of income.
“We’re still adjusting to the idea. But it literally got to the point where it just didn’t make sense for me to work anymore,” he says. “It made more financial sense to put my time into the channel. I fully thought I was going to be working another 20 years... but then, I thought, ‘Why am I killing myself sitting in traffic every day?’”
The reviews are refreshingly honest, because as it turns out, kids don’t know how to be anything but objective.
For example, when the two girls are reviewing Kinder Surprise Eggs, after Addie has opened a few, she gets frustrated and says of the toys inside, “Why does everything have to have wheels? This is all boys’ stuff!” And then her sister Jillian says of her toy, “It’s adorable, but I don’t think I’ll ever use it.”
And in the end, they are always honest in their overall impression of the candy they’ve just tried. First, they rate the fun factor on a scale of 1-10, and then they rate flavor with adjectives specifically related to the candy they just ate. So, for example, Jillian gave the Kinder Surprise Eggs flavor, a “Kinder-tastic,” while Addie said it was, “Chocolate-licious.”
Lest the girls be accused of promoting childhood obesity or cavities though, they always sign off with a public service announcement for their fans.
“Eat lots of healthy foods, get plenty of exercise, and brush and floss your teeth regularly,” they tell their viewers.
Then, as the credits roll, they showcase fan art.
“It helps us to know that people really care about our channel, and that they really like our videos, because otherwise they wouldn’t send it their artwork,” Jillian says.
Of course, before the video even starts, they girls have to pick out a candy to review.
A lot of the sweets they pick are based on viewer suggestions, but they also like to grab interesting candy at the store whenever they see it.
It seems to be a winning formula. The girls have been approached by candy makers looking to partner with them, such as Vat19, a multitude of candy subscription services, and companies like Creative Concepts (the people behind the Pucker Powder dispensing mechanisms).
“Our channel entered into a partnership with Disney’s Maker Studios a few months ago, and we have attended online video industry events such as Playlist Live, and we plan on attending Vidcon this summer,” their dad says. “We have been featured on the front page of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, as well as appearing on news programs, radio, and a PBS talk show called IQsmartParent.”
So how do the 9- and 7-year-old girls handle their YouTube fame? Well, for kids, they do a pretty great job.
“They’re both very bright, they’re both very verbal. They were able to read very young. They tend to look at things very analytically,” Bob explains. ”I think this experience, it’s helped them become better communicators.”
As for their fans, the girls seem to be happy just being able to make other people happy. Once, they ran into one of their fans at a waterpark, and just ended up spending the rest of the day going on rides with her. The girls also have fans at their very own school.
“I have one major fan that’s really happy for me,” Jillian says. “Mainly they [school fans] talk about the videos. I have a friend who recommends candy for us to try at school. It doesn’t make them act differently or anything.”
Their dad does make sure to only expose them to the positive people out there on the Internet, so when they do receive good feedback, he lets them respond.
“We work pretty hard to make sure we respond to people,” he says. “We screen all the comments before we show the girls anything. Kids really enjoy the fact that they’re getting a response from a YouTuber.”
The two girls admit that it can be hard to work with their sister though.
“Sometimes, she’s nice and stuff, but sometimes, we might have just been in a fight or something and sometimes we magically make up because of the candy review,” Jillian says.
As for the actual workload, their dad says the girls themselves only spend an hour or two a week sitting at a table eating candy, and talking about it. Then Bob handles the rest of the editing and other channel-related work.
As for the future, well, the girls are doing what anyone in the industry would do. They’re looking at candy shows, like the Sweets and Snacks Expo, they’re getting their name out, and they’re looking for new candy to try.
Addie and Jillian are both also tapping into new markets. They’re already doing toy reviews, and they’re interested in doing makeup-related videos. Jillian is also interested in doing book reviews.
“As long as they’re having fun doing it, we’ll probably keep doing it,” Bob says.