On Tuesday, March 21, around 11 a.m., 21-year-old Kiaron Thomas set up a TV table in a busy intersection Lakeland, Florida, and started eating pancakes in the middle of the street. His set-up included some scrambled eggs, a side of bacon, and a jug of syrup—and the whole thing was captured in a video by Thomas's friend Travis Riley. You can hear Riley, also 21, laughing in the background as a semi-truck and a silver Jeep try to navigate around the shirtless Thomas, who's wearing nothing but a pair of bright green pajama pants, slippers, and a gold chain as he eats his breakfast.
The video of this Florida man eating pancakes in the middle of the street soon went viral, appearing on local news stations around the country, TMZ, and even Fox News. According to a report from the Associated Press, Thomas was later charged with "placing an obstruction in the roadway and disrupting the free flow of traffic" and is due to appear in court on April 25 for this pancake stunt. And according to a statement from the Lakeland Police Department, Thomas told them in an interview that "he did it as a prank."
But what's the rationale behind the epic, albeit potentially dangerous, prank? Unclear. And there have been a surprising number of negative, racially charged comments on the video, as well. So I spoke with Riley and Thomas on the phone to find out why the duo thought eating pancakes in the middle of the street would be a good idea in the first place and how they felt about their newfound internet fame. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Extra Crispy: How are you guys feeling? How does it feel to have a viral hit video?
Travis Riley: Feels pretty good. We're pretty used to it. We’ve been—I wouldn’t say “viral”—but we’ve been known in our county for videos.
Yeah, because I was looking at your Facebook earlier, and I saw that video you recently posted, going into the shop and opening these boxes of cereal and making breakfast.
Riley: [Laughs] Yeah. We do a lot of comedy videos.
How did you get started making videos like this?
Kiaron Thomas: I mean, we’ve always been doing pretty funny stuff, so we just decided we'd start recording it.
Riley: Yeah, we just started recording it. We've always been funny, but we never used to post it. We used to do it in high school ... but we’ve become more professional. You know how you graduate high school, it’s like, “Oh, you gotta become more adult?”
So tell me about this pancake video. How did you come up with the idea for this one?
Riley: Kiaron was making pancakes one morning. And before we make our comedy videos, we just think of ideas, we pick each others' brains about ideas, and he was always making breakfast, so we just came up with the idea that it would be funny to shoot a video of him in the road, eating pancakes. But we didn't know it would go viral. We just thought it would be a funny video.
Was it scary being out there?
Thomas: No, ma'am. I believe God has my back.
It seems like a lot of your videos are about breakfast—so why do you guys like breakfast so much?
Thomas: That's the most important meal of the day.
Riley: Right, right. [Laughs]
You made those pancakes yourself?
Thomas: Oh yes, ma'am. I was actually eating pancakes, eggs, and bacon.
What's your go-to pancake recipe?
Thomas: I just like regular pancakes. Stick with the regular.
The cops eventually got involved, and they didn't arrest you. They just cited you for disrupting traffic. Is this the first time you've gotten in trouble with the cops because of a video?
Thomas: Because of a video? Yes, because of a video.
How are you feeling about the court date?
Thomas: I mean, there's nothing I can really do. Hopefully they give me a slap on the wrist, they give me a little warning. Maybe a court fine or do some community service. I didn't think it was that much of a big deal.
Riley: It really wasn't that big of a deal until they saw the video going viral. A lot of people from our county got a lot of backlash from it, so they had to step in and do something, you know? Because everyone was commenting. Literally the whole county was commenting on the video, a lot of negative [things]. I'm pretty sure the video wouldn't have went as viral as it did if they didn't do anything, if they let it be what it was. But we got so much negative feedback from people who—not necessarily in our community, but in other communities that didn't like that and felt some type of way about that and felt the need to say that they would've ran him over, you know. A lot of negative things.
It's crazy because you're just eating pancakes.
Riley: Look how big. It's national now. It literally happened to us Tuesday, now we're everywhere. We go anywhere, people recognize us. That's the crazy thing about it.
So what are you doing with your newfound viral fame?
Riley: We've just been enjoying it. Trying to network, trying to make some money out of it. We trying to eat off of it. We're trying to become bigger, build something off of it. You know, take something negative and turn it into something positive.
And you guys have plans to make more comedy videos, too?
Thomas: Oh, yeah.
Riley: Of course, of course.
Thomas: We just recently posted a new video on Trap's page.
I know you said you want to keep building, but what do you want to build to?
Riley: We want to be big-time entertainers. We want to entertain people. That's what we love to do.
On the video now, there's a link to a GoFundMe page.
Riley: That's my cousin. He runs Black Lives Matter Corporation in Lakeland, Florida. It's a problem going on in the local projects here. They're kicking out a lot of people there, black people getting evicted from apartments. So he's trying to create a GoFundMe account and help out there... Even though the video, I know we did something negative, we're really trying to turn it into something positive. We didn't know it was going to get that much backlash. We really are positive people, funny people.
I'm shocked to hear there's been so much backlash to this video, because you can tell in watching the video that you're just having such a good time, both of you.
Riley: Yeah. They just want to kill our spirit. Kill our spirit, that's all.
You're just eating breakfast. Who doesn't love breakfast?
Riley: Right. [Laughs]