Shocking no one, the answer is: Las Vegas. And, of course, Facebook.
Eater tracked down some of the white women losing their minds pouring nacho cheese over their kitchen island or filling pre-made pie crusts with Spaghetti-O’s. What connects them is a Vegas magician named Rick Lax. And the reason they keep showing up in your feed is an algorithm left unattended:
It is, at this point, statistically impossible to not half-recognize magician Rick Lax. He is essentially the face of Facebook’s Watch program. Launched in the U.S. in 2017, Watch was meant to be Facebook’s Netflix or YouTube competitor. It hired the former news anchor Campbell Brown as head of news partnerships and convinced outlets like Vox, BuzzFeed, and Fox News to create Facebook-exclusive shows. Watch shows still live on a separate tab called Watch, but in the years since, it has sort of blended back in with the rest of the video content on the app. The only Watch show to really break out has been Jada Pinkett Smith’s Red Table Talk. But Lax has continued to dominate the Newsfeed, even if you didn’t notice.
It’s obviously far from the worst of Facebook’s many, many, many crimes but it does show how their negligence twists culture and rewards humanity at its most base.
Viewed within the context of Lax’s main Facebook page, these videos sort of make sense. Videos that do well on Facebook tend to have some kind of payoff. Which plays off why we watch cooking videos to begin with. There’s a recipe that’s easy to follow, and you know that at the end you’ll see whatever’s been cooked. Prank videos work the same way. The prank is established, and then you wait to see what happens when it’s finally triggered. Lax and his collaborators have combined a prank video and a cooking video into something that people really can’t look away from, the culinary equivalent of a zit extraction.
It’s worth remembering Facebook’s infamous “pivot to video” was a disastrous move for actual news organizations, but at least there’s a lifetime of food porn by way of Jackass now.