The Company Behind that Crazy BBQ Chicken Pizzadilla Recipe Video Would Like a Word
Here’s how Jungle Creations, the company behind Twisted, works
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll know by now about the Deep Fried BBQ Chicken Stuffed Pizzadilla. Over the weekend, the video, in which chicken is baked, pulled, combined with sauce, layered between tortillas, chilled, chopped, breaded, fried, topped with sauce, cheese and pepperoni, then grilled, went viral. Like, yanny/laurel viral.
Originally tweeted on the evening of August 22nd by Boston-based Twitter user @_kurlykay, in the days after the video has taken on a life of its own. It has sailed past 20 million views, with everyone passing comment on the video.
As many have accurately pointed out, the recipe is an abomination, a demonstration of culinary excess, a videotaped example of everything wrong with our society. It is the War and Peace of cooking videos.
The recipe requires 32 ingredients, not including the constitent parts of the half-cup of pizza sauce smothered over the fried (and baked, pulled, chilled and breaded) triangles before they face the final lick of flame under the grill. It also asks for “?? cup spring onions, chopped” to be added to the recipe.
It is the antithesis of the social media video recipe we grew to love in the last few years.
Buoyed by Instagram and Twitter, short, easy-to-cook recipe videos proliferated on social media. The top-down videos, where nothing more than a pair of hands prepare a recipe, were made popular by BuzzFeed’s food video arm, Tasty.
They were simplistic, speedy videos requiring little more than store-cupboard ingredients. Processes and preparation were cut down in order to make the videos literally “snackable": consumable in a matter of minutes and able to be replicated by time-poor viewers who came across them online.
Soon other publishers were developing their own imitations of the videos, which are shared by millions.
Among them was Twisted, the company behind the BBQ chicken pizzadilla. “Twisted was born because we’re passionate about food and no one was making recipes quite like we were,” says Tom Jackson, co-head of Twisted, which is owned by Jungle Creations, a UK-based marketing agency.
But as with everything, algorithms and extremism took over.
“The etymology of the pizzadilla is what I find most interesting,” says James Whatley, strategy partner at experience marketing agency Digitas UK.
“From the top-down view popularised by BuzzFeed Tasty, deep-fried in an oil of random how to videos (see ‘the egg is bigger than before’), covered in a dressing of the internet’s obsession with pizza, then served on a nihilistic focus on being obsessed with anything that takes away from the trashfire that is the western world right now... and you get a recipe for success.”
“From a taste perspective, I’m out,” he says. “That said, this—the pizzadilla — will be the first thing I reach for next time I hear another vapid marketer wang on about how ‘attention spans are diminishing’ or how we’re becoming worse than goldfish or whatever. ‘A 2min 20sec video of fried food went viral’ is a textbook 2019 headline. What does that tell you?’”
The BBQ chicken stuffed pizzadilla is not the only example in this genre of outlandish cookery tasks: Tasty released a video of a 100-layer lasagna over the weekend that has a similar conceit.
“The response has been incredible to watch,” says Jackson. “We never could have predicted it.”
Twisted’s recipe videos are designed to break the rules and are about “being playful with food and entertaining our audience,” says Jackson. “This video did just that, so it’s a great thing. We’re not prescriptive and embrace the debate.”
According to Jackson, the videos act as marketing for the company’s services. “Thanks to the popularity of our videos and the reach of Twisted we work with clients on branded content,” he says. “Branded content is our main revenue stream, although most of the videos we post are unbranded.”
The meal has benefitted the company, with British daytime TV recreating the recipe on their show.
The arms race to produce ever more outlandish recipes is simply fulfilling audience demand, says Jackson. And it won’t end.
“It’s all based around what people want to watch,” he explains. “It’s a break away from the more serious aspects of social media and of life in general. The Pizzadilla has really divided opinion, generating thousands of tweets and tens of million of views, which I think really goes to prove that.”