Perhaps the most surprising thing about Mr Mash is that he uses the same potato masher every time. Using a furnace made from gas torch and a flowerpot, the 29-year-old Estonian heats up his household potato masher until it glows red hot. Then, he mashes it down on a variety of random objects.
“Cleaning takes up most of the time,” he says, explaining that it takes up to an hour to restore his masher after he presses it down on items such as glow sticks, marshmallows, M&Ms, and crayons. After mashing some purple, blue, and orange Play Doh, Mr Mash struggled to clean up the mess. “It was very hard to get off the table and the wall”.
“Why?” is a question that has plagued humanity since the dawn of time. Why are we here? Why do we dream? Why does Mr Mash heat up his household potato masher until it glows red hot – before mashing it down on a variety of random objects?
“I work the night shift [at a metal can factory] so I have lots of time to think,” Mr Mash tells me over Facebook Messenger, as he worried his spoken English wasn’t good enough for a call. “The best ideas come about 6am after work.”
“Could I get one million views?”
Mr Mash has indeed gained well over a million views, but he’s not happy about all of them. Media outlets and Facebook pages have stolen his videos, profiting from them with little credit to the man himself. [To prove he is the original mastermind behind the 1000 degree masher, Mr Mash links me to his first mashing YouTube video, which is now set to private and dated 30 January. Though a channel called IdeaHub did conceive of a 1,000 degree potato masher on 22 January, they only created one video with 138 views, and the rest of the genre is undeniably dominated by Mr Mash.]
“I’ve counted about 30 million views all together on various sites like LadBible and Bored Panda,” he says, “It used to bother me a lot.” Now that Mr Mash has his own following, he isn’t too worried about content theft – but wishes Instagram would get better at punishing those who steal his videos. Eventually, he would like to make money from his content. “I would like to make it my job but I don’t want to post any random crap,” he explains. “I want to be original.”
YouTubers have been heating up utensils and smashing them into things for a number of years. Two genres of video are dominated by this type of footage, one being the “oddly satisfying” videos often shared on Instagram and viral news sites, and the other being “ASMR” videos. ASMR stands for “autonomous sensory meridian response” and is a spine-tingling sensation that some people feel in response to certain stimuli. Quiet whispering – or the hiss of gingerbread as it is crushed by a 1,000 degree potato masher – can generate pleasurable sensations.
Originally, Mr Mash wanted to make an ASMR YouTube channel, but found his microphone couldn’t pick up the sounds well enough. Now, his channel has evolved (he also heats up metal gears and plays around with fidget spinners) and his tagline is: “Experiments you don’t want to do at your home.”
“I’ve moved on,” he says of the masher. “It got boring for myself… it got repetitive.”
“Why” isn’t the only question frequently asked of Mr Mash. Most pressing is the issue of whether his masher really is 1,000 degrees. “It’s named that because ‘hot potato masher’ didn’t come up in YouTube search,” he explains, and he is clearly very savvy about how best to promote his videos. He believes the masher “probably actually is” 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit (537 degrees Celsius) but he hasn’t yet had a chance to measure the temperature. “I saw a chart saying [a] faint pink colour is 700 degrees Celsius,” he explains.
So just why is watching dough ooze out of the holes of a heated potato masher so satisfying? According to Dr Jessica Gall Myrick – quoted in Refinery29 – this genre of “satisfying” video can help us to relieve stress. But aside from this, they’re simply entertaining. When a hot potato masher sizzles on a pack of crayons, we can’t look away because we want to find out what happens next. (Spoiler: the crayons melt).
“I love these videos I don’t know why,” reads one comment on Instagram, astutely summing up the situation.
Mr Mash’s videos are a prime example of how the internet has allowed a brand new culture to flourish. No TV executive would ever pitch a hot potato masher for the primetime slot on BBC 1, but it is clear that the demand is there. “People either love it or hate it,” says Mr Mash, of the reaction.
For now, Mr Mash will continue to make his videos, though the masher appears less and less frequently. Fidget spinners, after all, are easier to clean up. “I have moved on to DIY and experiments overall,” he says, going on to hint that more is on the way. “A video is in progress atm [at the moment] but it’s summer so not much time.”
Mr Mash did not wish to disclose his real name.