Do you do the mistletoe tradition?
Stuart Edgington has now become famous for asking this question to students at Brigham Young University and posting their responses in a video on YouTube. His "Mistletoe Kissing Prank" video has received more than 13 million views since it was posted just last week. The number of subscribers to Edgington's YouTube channel has also skyrocketed: "Before I posted the video I think I had nine subscribers," Edgington said. As of Wednesday morning, there are more than 90,000 subscribers to Edgington's channel.
It all started after he attended a Christmas party where mistletoe hanging around the room was never used.
"Nobody was kissing under the mistletoe, and it was really awkward," Edgington said. "That's why I started to wonder if people today would still kiss under the mistletoe."
Edgington works at Orabrush, the popular tongue-cleaning company that made it big through YouTube. It was after talking with his co-workers about his video idea that Edgington had the confidence to make his idea a reality.
"My first idea was to come up with a scene where there is a guy trying to get a girl to kiss him," Edgington said. "But that developed into a non-staged video where people could get fooled into kissing under a mistletoe."
That's when Edgington got his roommate and former bandmate, Nathan Turley, involved — even though Turley had some hesitations.
"I was really excited at first and then the more I thought about it I started to get nervous," Turley said. "I thought, 'I'm never going to get a date ever again after this video."
Yet the two still set off to Brigham Young University where they set up the prank in the crowded Wilkinson Student Center.
"The first day it was just Nate and we were just going to do that," Edgington said. "But then I wanted to go back and Nate didn't want to do it again." It was after that when Edgington realized he needed a girl in the video and asked his co-worker Kaitlin Snow.
The filming began as Snow and Turley asked students walking by if they would take a survey. Once someone agreed to participate, they would confirm if the volunteer was single or married. If married, Edgington explained they would continue on and just do a simple survey — if single, the end of the survey would include a bundle of mistletoe falling from the sky and hanging over Snow and Turley as they waited for their kiss.
"I was really nervous that we would come off like we were jerks just trying to get action, but that wasn't it at all," Snow said. "Stuart did a very good job putting the video together by giving it a lighthearted feel."
Although Snow and Turley look very comfortable in the video, they both said it was not something they were used to doing.
"The only way I can describe it is the most spontaneous thing ever," Turley said. "At the beginning of the second night shooting I was 10 times more stressed. I was getting denied left and right so I was like, 'Get me out of here.' But by the end of the night I was more relaxed and it was really fun."
Snow said once she started talking to people she decided she needed to just be comfortable and have fun with it.
"I usually only kiss people that I'm super interested in," Snow said. "I'm not even a first-date kisser, so it was really different. Once I got out there I just had fun talking to random people, even the ones who said no."
And several did say no. Yet the most surprising results were just how many said yes.
"I was very surprised with how many actually went along with it," Turley said. "I had a lower percentage (of those who said yes) than Kaitlin, but I expected that."
As it shows in the video, most of the night Snow and Turley had a live audience watching and waiting for the next kiss.
"It was fun because the whole crowd would cheer when they kissed us," Snow said. "People afterwards came up and said, 'Oh we were studying for finals and it was so fun watching you guys do this.' It felt good in a weird way, I guess. It was fun to bring joy during the stress of finals."
Overall, Edgington said he never expected such an overwhelming reaction to his work.
"I thought it would do well," Edgington said. "But the results have been very unexpected and quite humbling. It's hard to find parodies like this where they are heartwarming as well."
Sarah Sanders Petersen is an intern for Deseret News where she writes for Mormon Times and other feature articles. She is a communications major and editing minor from Brigham Young University.