Over Labor Day weekend, Tariq visited the state’s famous Corn Palace – a multipurpose building decorated with murals depicting thousands of grains of varying shades – on his first official stop representing the starchy vegetable. .
“Tariq’s corn endorsement contains more than a kernel of truth and has reached ears around the world via social media,” states the pun-filled statement from South Dakota.
If none of this makes sense, you probably haven’t reached the corner of the internet known as #CornTok – or the TikTok hashtag where thousands of videos feature the viral song Corn, officially titled “It’s Horn”. But the social media obsession honoring the vegetable – or the fruit or the grain – started with the mononymous Tariq excitedly describing an ear of corn at his local fair.
Calling it “the most beautiful thing”, Tariq pointed to the moment when “everything changed” in his life: when he put butter on corn.
“I really like corn,” Tariq told Julian Shapiro-Barnum, a comedian who interviews kids in New York City for his “Recess Therapy” web series.
Shapiro-Barnum uploaded the music video titled “The Corn CEO” on August 4, in which Tariq, whose last name and age are not used, declares that “corn is awesome!”
“It’s corn!” Tariq exclaims in the video, while munching on the cob. When asked to describe corn to someone who had never tasted it, Tariq said it was like “a big lump with pimples”.
“He has juice. This is the part that makes me love corn the most,” he said.
The interview has since racked up over 3 million views on YouTube and over 875,000 on TikTok. Soon buzz began to build around “Corn Boy” or “Corn Kid”, leading to Tariq’s remarks being automatically tuned into a song. The Gregory brothers — known for putting social media’s most viral moments to music on their account, “Schmoyoho” – released a remix on August 18 that was soon trending on TikTok.
The sound has been used in more than 645,000 videos on TikTok alone, including one by Dave Jorgenson of the Washington Post explaining how cornfields release “a-maize levels of moisture” into the air. Others have used it to brag about people and things they love, sometimes including corn.
Web searches for “corn song” have increased steadily since Tariq’s interview was posted online, according to Google Trends. Chipotle enlisted Tariq for an ad, and he’s now on Cameo, selling custom videos starting at $220. A long list of celebrities, brandssports teamsnew electrical outlets and federal agencies also paid tribute to Corn Kid.
Tama Leaver, professor of internet studies at Curtin University in Australia, told The Post that the collective joy sparked by the video is an example of people seeking entertainment in “non-traditional spaces” – and finding a sense of belonging while they are there.
“Something as infectious as the corn song is going to grab a lot of people,” Leaver said. “It’s part of the joy, the feeling of being [on TikTok]. Part of the TikTok community participates in these audio memes.
The Gen Z favorite video-sharing app with over a billion users is the perfect platform for the “Corn Song” and other audio tracks – e.g., “Jiggle Jiggle” and “Into the Thick of It” from earlier this year — to thrive, Leaver said. Its “very smart” algorithm strikes a balance between personalized content to taste and viral videos. When it comes to trends, he said, users are prone to hoarding not only because the app’s features incite challenges, remixes and duets, but also because it gives a feeling of community – for better or for worse.
The fact that the song jumped onto other platforms, including Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, gave Corn Kid a longer lifespan than other memes, Leaver said.
How a photo of a woman screaming in a guy’s ear became a viral meme
Tariq couldn’t have known that his feelings about corn would have such far-reaching. He told Shapiro-Barnum that he just wanted people to have a “corn-tastic day.”
And if that sounds corny, the official “Corn-bassador” agrees with that. “What? It’s just a pun on corn! Tariq said in the viral video.
Now, as he would say, go tell somebody.