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Fast Food Secrets With Jordan Howlett

After Covid crushed his baseball dreams, a kid from Oceanside applied his relentless work ethic to amassing tens of millions of food-focused followers

Jordan Howlett just needs a minute. Give him that, and he’s liable to have you hooked. Thanks to his highly recognizable, signature mirror-selfie videos, Howlett (San Diego Magazine’s cover star for our 2024 Best Restaurants issue) has amassed upwards of 30 million followers across his social channels by sharing fast food hacks and wisdom with deadpan delivery and a genuine love of food. Some 70 million people see his videos every month on TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube. He’s a one-minute, one-man daily Netflix special.

Tik Tok Influencer Jordan Howlett at San Diego Japanese restaurant Kinme Omakase
Photo Credit: Matt Furman

Read About Jordan’s Howlett’s Rise to Fame Here

But it hasn’t been easy. Growing up financially strapped meant that Howlett’s opportunities were often limited. Stress has been a theme. He’s been belittled and bullied. He slept in his car while chasing a dream. It took a maniacal work ethic and healthy amount of delusion to propel him to the social media stratosphere.

“I didn’t realize how creative my parents were until I realized just how much we were really struggling,” Howlett tells us in this episode of Happy Half Hour.

Born in LA County, Howlett moved to Oceanside in the fourth grade after spending his early life in the desert town of Victorville. Howlett began attending Oceanside High as a sophomore, where he joined the baseball team.

“Originally, I was thinking maybe football,” Howlett says. “I’m on my way to the football field and the baseball coach sees me, and he points me right at the baseball field and says, ‘Why don’t you go over there?’”

That interception changed the course of Howlett’s life.

At 16, with no sports experience, Howlett became hooked on baseball. Before long, he started dreaming of playing Division 1 ball. He wanted to go pro. But his teammates had been playing since preschool. Howlett had some catching up to do and 100 people—teammates, coaches, everyone—telling him he had no chance. But Howlett didn’t care. He just got to work, training every spare minute, working three times harder than everyone else.

It paid off. Howlett found himself on fields he was never supposed to see… at least until Covid killed his baseball career. Then it was back to low-wage fast food jobs—until that work ethic came in handy for growing a social media audience.

In this episode of HHH, Howlett joins us in the studio to recount his childhood in Oceanside, his path from awkward high school baseball wannabe to Division 1 athlete, and his road to internet superstardom. Along the way he recalls how his Fast Food Secrets Club came to be, recoils from pickle pizza, and tells us about one of his absolute favorite local spots to eat.

Want to see his videos? Follow him at @jordan_the_stallion8.

By Mateo Hoke

Mateo Hoke is San Diego Magazine’s executive editor. His books include Six by Ten: Stories from Solitary, and Palestine Speaks: Narratives of Life Under Occupation.

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