(WXIA) - The internet world is obsessed with Bogart. He's the hamster that went through two weeks of training to stuff tiny burritos into his adorable face. 11Alive's Julie Wolfe tracked down the man behind the video for a quick interview. Think all the hoopla is dumb? So does he. Dumb and delightful.
Joel Jensen is the co-founder of Hello Denizen, a marketing company based in Los Angeles.
Where did the idea for the 'Tiny Hamsters Eating Tiny Burritos" come from?
People have long been fascinated by two things: miniature versions of familiar items and animals behaving like people. We saw some people talking about miniature food on the internet and wanted to heighten that idea and make it active by actually feeding it to something similarly tiny. We all like stuffing our faces with burritos, and we knew that a hamster would be adorable doing just that.
Who is the chef in the video? Is he a real chef or an actor?
The chef is a character we created for the video--we wanted a person there to care about this more than anything in the world so that our audience would feel the same way and get to play along with the absurdity of it, and really feel it. The chef is played by a friend of ours named Farley Elliott, who actually figured out how to make the tiny, hamster-friendly burritos. He's a really great food blogger and has a site called overoverunder.com
Does the hamster have a name? I read an animal trainer helped. How difficult was it to work with a hamster on set?
The hamster is named Bogart, and he was trained by a handler over the course of about two weeks to learn to walk to the table and sit at the chair. Hamsters are not the brightest creatures. The trainer also helped us determine what types of ingredients would be safe for tasty for the hamsters. The actual production was pretty simple--it took about 10 takes to get it right. The lucky break was that all we had to do was put food in front of them and no matter how they ate it, it'd be amazing.
The video has nearly 3 million views. What's the allure?
I think it really boils down to cute factor and finding a new way to present cuteness, or a new way to present "animals acting like humans." It's also one of those things that's just so dumb and wonderful at the same time. I think we get so worked up about the complexities of work and school and life in general that we forget how much we like things that are just utterly dumb for the sake of being fun and delightful--so videos like this create a real break in the pattern of most folks' day, where they can sit and just enjoy something without any need to think about it beyond their instinct to smile.
The video says "episode 1". What's next?
We're going to keep developing this as a series and keep making these videos as long as people will watch them. Partially because we want nothing more than to make people happy with our channel. And partially for selfish reasons--I mean, if we get to make this sort of thing over and over, we'll die happy. We also want to explore lots of other ideas with our channel, and keep bringing people all sorts of ideas that make them smile.