Anyone who's an avid TikTok scroller has probably been inundated with picturesque cooking videos. You know the ones I'm talking about: they're shot during golden hour with a calm voiceover and/or ASMR, a marble countertop, and maybe a few lit candles for good measure. But if you venture to the other, more realistic side of CookTok, you'll find @applesauceandadhd, aka Jessica Secrest, a 30-year-old stay-at-home mom who has gone viral for her self-described "aggressive cooking tutorials."
Recently, Jessica's tutorial for making a "Taco Tater Tot Casserole" garnered almost 13 million views on the app and became so popular, that it made its way over to Twitter where it received some mixed reactions.
Damn why she mad at me for watching lol pic.twitter.com/2mYgv70qqH
— Lance🇱🇨 (@Bornakang) November 28, 2023
@Bornakang / @applesauceandadhd / Via Twitter: @Bornakang
The video starts with Jessica introducing viewers to the dish she cooked for her family that night. Rather than using the zoomed-in aesthetic food shots and a catchy hook typical of TikTok cooks, Jessica instead slaps a massive casserole on the counter. "Tonight we are having taco tater tot casserole," she says, "This is it."
Where TikTok cooks measure, Jessica eyeballs. Where they use freshly chopped garlic, Jessica reaches for the often-demonized jarred variety. And because Jessica anticipates the question about the amount of garlic in her dish, she clarifies, "To those of you who look at this and say, 'That's SO much garlic,' yes and no. Garlic in the jar is much, much milder."
Instead of gingerly slicing corn kernels off the cob, as another creator might, Jessica rips open a bag of frozen corn with her teeth. "It's frozen. It's fine!" she says to the camera.
You can watch the full video here:
@applesauceandadhd / Via tiktok.com
After making its rounds on Twitter, people definitely had thoughts about Jessica's cooking style.
she talking to me like she's told me this 5 times already and she's tired of having to tell me AGAIN https://t.co/LgDcQZ4An2
— millie || 😀🌼 (@millie102685) November 29, 2023
@millie102685 / Via Twitter: @millie102685
A few even assumed she worked in a school or some customer service job that would exhaust anyone's patience.
She either works in the school system, DMV or some other job where she’s tired of your sh*t. https://t.co/gsPllv1SLR
— Matt Reinstetle (@stetle) November 29, 2023
@stetle / Via Twitter: @stetle
And a lot of people apologized for even watching.
I really can't tell if she wanted to make the video or if she was being blackmailed to do it. I felt like she was annoyed that I was watching.. 🤣🤣 https://t.co/MwRNiGxezQ
— Stelvis💥🇺🇸💥 (@Stelvis11) November 30, 2023
@Stelvis11 / Via Twitter: @Stelvis11
Same goes for the comments on the original video.
While some were confused about the "aggressive" persona in her videos, a lot of people also found it strangely comforting and relatable.
i really love this, i can’t explain it. so sick of the fake “i love cooking 2/47!” tutorials. I’m the cook in my family and sometimes i hate it. it’s nice to see her match my energy some days.
— ras ali (@rasalistair) November 28, 2023
I honestly love this; like she’s not being like “I’m yelling at you aggressive” it’s more a “eh I’m aggressive explaining but you’ll get what I’m saying” kind of aggressive lol hard to explain but it’s not a immature make you angry aggressive idk lol but I love it
— Christian♉️💎 (@KingChrislea) November 29, 2023
@KingChrislea / Via Twitter: @KingChrislea
"My aggressive tutorial lady character is kind of a character, but it's kind of like my internal monologue coming out through my mouth," Jessica told BuzzFeed. She started her aggressive cooking series in August when she saw a TikTok of someone selling an Uncrustable maker and using it incorrectly. "I jumped up off my couch and I said, 'Oh, hell no. You're selling this product, you need to do it the right way.'" So she filmed an aggressive Uncrustable tutorial. The video quickly blew up with 1.5 million views.
After the virality of her first aggressive tutorial, Jessica began getting requests from followers to teach them other household tasks, from folding a fitted sheet to baking banana bread. "After [the banana bread] video, everyone was like, 'That's it. We need every cooking video to be aggressive.' Now every night when I make dinner for my family, I film it, and I film it aggressively." She now has over one million followers who tune into her daily cooking videos.
And while we may all know her as the "aggressive tutorial lady" today, Jessica initially started her page as a way to document the dietary changes she had to make for her son, who was diagnosed with ADHD. She was also recently diagnosed herself. "I think that a lot of my videos and my video style appeals to neurodivergent people," she said, "Something about the way I talk kind of draws people in and gets your ears listening, kind of like when you're a little bit in trouble with your parents, but not quite."
When it comes to editing her videos, she explained that she uses her ADHD as a "superpower" to aid her. "The second my attention starts to stray away from my video as I'm editing, I cut the clip because I can almost predict how long someone with ADHD or maybe who is neurodivergent can focus on one specific thing."
Even though Jessica grew up cooking and genuinely enjoys it, she knows that a lot of other parents will relate to the scolding mother-like tone in her videos. "I think that's why it resonates, especially with a lot of moms that totally feel the frustration of 'I'm making this dinner and nobody's even gonna eat it I bet.'" With two toddlers at home herself, Jessica definitely understands how other exhausted parents feel.
But when it comes to those who are less than thrilled with her video personality, Jessica doesn't let it get to her. "I'm fully aware that my aggressive tone and my video style is not for everyone. I get a lot [of comments asking] 'Why is she so mad?', 'Why is she yelling?', 'Who hurt her?' And truly, I kinda laugh at those comments because they just don't get it. And that's fine."
It's safe to say I'm pacing around my kitchen, frantically looking for the ingredients for "taco tater tot casserole" as we speak. Let us know your thoughts on Jessica's aggressive cooking tutorials in the comments below.