Spicing Up the Celebrity Interview
April 2024

By Cait McNamara

If you’re a pop culture and social media fanatic, like us, and you haven’t watched Hot Ones yet, you are truly missing out. Started in 2015, by food culture site First We Feast, Hot Ones is a celebrity interview show hosted on YouTube, but with a twist.  

Every episode, the celebrity guest embarks on a journey to eat ten progressively spicier chicken wings, while being asked ten deeply researched questions by host, Sean Evans. Yes, it’s as weird and wonderful as it sounds. And we’re addicted. 

Creator Chris Schonberger set out with the goal to disrupt the ‘normal’ celebrity interview. He created a format that not only provided entertainment to his audience, but also forced the interviewee to let their guard down. The interviews answered the age-old question of, “What would it be like to have a beer with them?”. Because it’s very hard to keep up a pretence while eating some of the spiciest hot sauces on the planet.  


Nine years later, Hot Ones has now released over 300 episodes, amassed millions of views and welcomed guests ranging from Harry Kane to Emma Chamberlain, and most recently, A-list stars like Viola Davis, Mark Ruffalo and Jennifer Lawrence. If you’re wondering what our personal favourites are, we have to give a shout out to Paul Rudd, ever the entertainer, and Lorde, who defeated those hot wings without even batting an eyelid.  

In an interview with The New York Times, Schonberger calls Hot Ones a “true Venn diagram” combining todays need for virality with time-tested journalism. We couldn’t agree more. By asking questions that are rooted in research rather than hot gossip, we see the guests like we’ve never seen them before. We get some of the most interesting insights into the celebrities’ lives, careers and even taste preferences. Shout out to the latest episode from Gwyneth Paltrow who revealed her DEEP hatred for dill. Who would have called it? 

Episodes average at 25 minutes and Schonberger has truly mastered the art of long-form content. The format is the same each episode, Sean Evans and the guest conquer the ‘wings of death’, but the answers and celebrity reactions are what keeps us interested until the very end. Especially, when they give a short BTS reaction from the guest post-interview.  


So, what lessons can we learn from Hot Ones? 

Consistency is Key 

Hot Ones is the epitome of having a vision and running with it. Almost nothing has changed about the show’s format, set or production since its inception, with Sean Evans quipping an almost identical intro and outro in every episode and episodes dropping like clockwork on Thursdays. 

Leverage Collaboration 

Over the years, Hot Ones has had collaborations with Shake Shack, Hot Pockets, and even retro sportswear label, Champion. Most recently, they did a crossover episode with the Queen of fast food, Amelia Dimoldenberg of Chicken Shop Date fame, to reach new audiences. Genius. 

Embrace the Unexpected 

Finally, Hot Ones shows us that while it’s important to be consistent, you can still embrace the ever-changing world of social media and adapt to new platforms, trends and audiences. Hot Ones TikTok account, for example, has been hugely successful and has become the source of numerous trending sounds and CapCut templates including the Jennifer Lawrence ‘What do you mean?’ Capcut and Paul Rudd’s ‘Look at us’ trending sound.  


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