Tess Koman has what might be a dream job: she goes to amusement parks and tries all the food possible in the course of a day.
This is not what she thought was possible when she went to a small liberal arts college and studied English while wishing she could be an intern at Cosmopolitan.
“I was wrapped with anxiety that I didn’t go to journalism school. At the same time, I had been obsessed with Cosmopolitan for many years because I wasn’t allowed to read it when I lived at home,” Koman says.
She took matters into her own hands, applying for an internship four times, getting rejected four times, until eventually she was tapped by the new editor of Cosmo’s website to come on board as an assistant. Koman spent the next seven years writing on various topics until Delish.com came to poach her.
Now she travels to amusement parks and eats everything in sight, making brightly colored, engaging, self-deprecating and really fun to watch videos describing what she’s tried and how it all tastes.
“It’s seductive,” she says. “You can say whatever you want to say and people can disagree with you. I can write about how I think a Dole Whip tastes and that will upset people very much. There are certain facets to food that some people are very interested in.”
Her series, Iconic Eats, was pitched as something totally different, it turns out.
“I wanted to be an authority on food. I pitched it as the best venues in New Orleans, the best deep dish in Chicago,” she says. “I did a cheeseburger video in New York City. … I walked away from the idea for a while (until) I was sent on a press trip to Disney and myself and Chelsea, my shooter and director, we had a spare afternoon. With the cooperation of the production team, who happened to be very flexible at Disney, we ate our way through Disneyland, put it on YouTube and it blew up so fast.”
And that’s what put Koman on the fast track to a kind of cult status as the girl who eats things in parks. That brings with it great fun and perks but also, being a person on YouTube can bring out the worst in some people.
“After the Disneyland video, I came back to the office and said I’d never do this again. People were so terribly mean to me,” she says. “As I obsessively scrolled through the comments, I did find these gems in there. People hate things about me I can’t change. They don’t like my voice, they don’t like my nose, they hate my clothes. Plenty of antisemitic things. A lot of oversexualization of what I’m doing there. The job has become to put food in my face. As I combed through the comments, there was productive feedback there as well, people wanted to see the prices of the food or had ambitions to do something similar. We were providing some kind of service.”
It’s All Journalism Producer Michael O’Connell is joined this week by Tess Koman of Delish.com, discussing her video series Iconic Eats, which involves traveling to amusement parks around the country and sampling all their tasty treats.