June 20, 2024

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Meet the retired boomers taking over TikTok as influencers

2 min read

Larry Canam makes milkshakes for millions of people. But he used to have an audience of just one: his son.

Any Monday or Tuesday in Fredericton, New Brunswick, you can find the 70-year-old hosting his weekly father-son movie and cocktail night. “We’ve done it for a long time,” Canam explains in a gentle inflection mirroring a Canadian version of Mr. Rogers. On the menu at one point or another: John Candy’s Orange Whip in The Blues Brothers, a White Russian from The Big Lebowski, and Jason Bourne’s Cubra Libre. 

One night in early 2021, Canam’s son suggested they put their recipes on TikTok for fun. He initially received a lukewarm reaction after posting a Harvey Wallbanger cocktail to the account @thewhytelephant. But with enough cataloging, requests soon trickled in for everything from Manhattans to margaritas. One viewer requested a milkshake, which Canam initially shrugged off; cocktails were his thing. Eventually, he whipped up a simple vanilla shake, raking in over one million views. 

Canam was shocked, to say the least: “I thought, what is this?” he recalls to Fortune. Two years later, the “spirit alchemist,” as he calls himself in his TikTok bio, has nearly 6 million followers and posts videos ranging from cooking a zucchini loaf to walking through his vegetable garden. The platform became a hobby for Canam to show off all his other hobbies.

“I want it to be something where it’s a slice of life,” he says of his TikTok videos. “This is who I am. This is what I do. I don’t only make milkshakes and cocktails and that sort of thing. I [also] have a garden.”

It’s a third career act for the military vet and former senior retail manager, who is sharpening the bartending hobby he started in his 40s. His success might seem like a Cinderella story, but Canam’s journey towards virality isn’t uncommon for people of his generation. Growing up with a landline and reaching adulthood before the first mobile phone,…

Chloe Berger

2023-10-22 09:00:00

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