The hottest man on YouTube is driving through Connecticut at 5:15pm on a Monday, heading home after a visit to his mother's and a long day of work. He's trying to make it to his wife in New Britain, a small New England suburb of Hartford, before it's time to put dinner down on the table. Daymon Patterson knows how important a meal can be.
"Food brings us all together," Patterson, 34, told the Daily Dot. "You're not buried in your phone. You're not looking at a text message. You're actually sitting across from another person and can see the expression on their face. That, to me, is something big. It's something important."
Patterson carries a funny caveat with that "bringing people together" bit, however. For the past year-and-a-half, Patterson, who's 6'5" and thick as a Sirloin Swiss, has most publicly enjoyed his food alone.
In fact, since April 29, 2011, Patterson has steadily earned a reputation on YouTube for enjoying a number of his meals from the driver's seat of his four-door sedan. It's in that seat that he transforms himself from Daymon Patterson, family man, into Daym Drops, the most audacious, charismatic, and charming food reviewer this side of Marilyn Hagerty.
"I was just doing it as a hobby," he said. "Normally, I'd do it on my days off. If I had a day off, pretty much what I had going on with my Fam Page, I'd put up a few locations where I wanted to try something, and I'd let the people vote for where they wanted me to go next. Whichever caught the most votes, that's where I'd go over to."
He'd get five votes for some, six votes for others. It was never anything much; it's a good thing he did it as a hobby. But fate changed three weeks ago when a longtime fan of his GhettoNN channel posted his "Five Guys Burgers and Fries Review" video onto Reddit.
"I remember going to bed on a Monday evening. I was only at 2,400 subscribers and 230,000 channel views, but I woke up on Tuesday morning and looked at my phone: My inbox is just email after email after email after email, all the way down—all of it coming off of one video. Sure enough, I take a look and track it back to the 'Five Guys Burgers and Fries.'
That particular video had started out at only about 16,000 views, but by the next morning it was all the way up to 70,000.
I'm over clicking away like, 'Oh my goodness, baby. Check this out!'
I'm over there trying to get my wife awake, and she's saying, 'Boy, won't you let me go back to sleep?'
It's crazy, but through the course of that Tuesday, those numbers kept jumping. 70,000 became 120,000. 120,000 became 170,000. It was like over 200,000 before the end of Tuesday night, and it kept going throughout the course of the week. Because the numbers jumped up fast, out grabbed the attention of the Gregory Brothers, and that just took it to a whole other level for me."
Patterson's "Five Guys Burgers and Fries Review" video now sits at over 1.7 million views. The Gregory Brothers' remix has been seen more than 4.6 million times. Patterson's added more than 40,000 channel subscribers and 3 million total views to his own channel—and chances are there's no end in sight.
Patterson hasn't even reviewed 50 different fast food options to date. He's barely scratched the surface at Five Guys Burgers and Fries and has made no mention of Whataburger, Sonic, or Jack in the Box. He's got a hungry mouth to feed and chain after chain to stop at around the country. His schtick could literally go on for years.
"It all happened so fast," he reiterates. "You go to sleep one night as a regular guy and wake up the next day as something else.
"I felt like Superman for a moment with the change. It's been crazy—crazy. Especially now that everybody seems to know about it at work."
Patterson's a buyer at a Connecticut area CarMax, and he works out of two locations, one in East Haven and one in Hartford. He said that word of his YouTube celebrity got around the Hartford location when his "Five Guys Burgers and Fries Review" video hit big on Reddit.
"When it got to East Haven, it was like, 'Hey, superstar!' But I swear I'm just a regular guy."
How regular? Married-with-two-kids-and-a-house-in-the-suburbs regular. Patterson's wife just had Patterson's second child last month, and he has a 15-year-old daughter from a previous marriage.
"She and I would always have talks in the park about how her friends in school were watching my videos and talking about my reviews," he said. "I was just saying to her, 'It's going to be a whole lot different when you go back to school now.' She said she kind of anticipated that. She's still enjoying it, but she knows they're talking."
So does Patterson, who's well aware that his newfound fame yields a greater responsibility.
"You don't really think about who your viewers are," he said. "You just look at the comments and assume that they must be around your age and maybe a little bit younger. But when you start to see their responses and start to see the emails come through, you begin to notice how many of these viewers are actually kids."
Thus, Patterson recently made the pledge to honor his mother's wishes and start reviewing healthier foods. He reviewed his first wrap on Tuesday—the Quiznos Honey Bourbon Chicken wrap—and in the future, he's promised to bury himself in lettuce and pita.
"I need to show them, kids who are 10 to 12, 12 to 15, that fast food is not the direction in which they should point their life," he said. "These kids are out there staying, 'Listen Daym, I don't want to try something until you eat it.'
"That's amazing, but I want to give back and give back the right way."
In line, Patterson has recently opened communication with local YMCA representatives to lead support groups for children dealing with obesity. He said he wants to "try to get them back on the right path the same way that I'm making changes in my life to get myself on the right path," which means exercise, proper rest, and a high ratio of chicken wraps to Big Macs.
What's he want for himself? A call from The Food Network, maybe. Maybe something from the Cooking Channel. He's not entirely sure, to be honest. For now, he's got his phone line armed and ready.
He's also got his eyes peeled for the next big thing. Just last Sunday, a mere two weeks after the biggest night in his food-reviewing life, Patterson took to YouTube to announce the January implementation of a second Daym Drops channel: Daym Drops Untapped, a pedestal and talent network for undiscovered content creators Patterson sees as fit for a brighter light.
"We all start the same exact way on YouTube," Patterson said. "You put so much effort into your material, and it never gets the views that you anticipate, no matter how long it's up there. I came from that place, and I know exactly what it feels like. I want to put this platform out there to give my fam a chance."
And then he paused for a second.
"Notice how I didn't even call them fans. These people are my fam. We're all on the same page at the end of the day. We all come into this together and leave out of here together. These are the individuals that support your every move.
"To me, that's a family. Your family supports your every move. Good, bad, or indifferent, they want to get behind you. They want to show you that support. They want to keep you levelheaded. These are the same people who leave me messages on a daily basis. Whatever I can do to give them their shine and get them what they deserve, that's what I'm going to do."