Stupid YouTuber Merch Is Everywhere Now

All your fave content creators have started slinging branded shit now.
YouTuber merch arranged in display
Image: Natalie Moreno
Looking back on the biggest stories of the year.

YouTubers have been pushing merch for a few years now. In 2023, though, it seemed to reach a fever pitch. Right now you’ve got Binging with Babish slinging knives, the Shahidi brothers joining forces with Kyle Forgeard of the Nelk Boys on Happy Dad seltzer, Logan Paul and KSI with their Prime, and a whole heap more besides that. 

Some of these have been around for a while now, but Prime – launched in 2022 but only really taking off in 2023 and prompting chaos on shop floors – blew the market wide open. Last year alone, Prime grossed $250 million. Happy Dad is in the top 5 seltzer brands in terms of sales, according to IRI data, via Forbes.      


All of this tells us that there is a baying audience for these crossover, IRL YouTuber products, and that in their virtual-to-real novelty, they provide a very 2023, modern-feeling frisson to the consumer. In 2017, YouTube restructured its ad-revenue shares, meaning creators saw varying degrees of financial losses. This pushed YouTubers back then to seek additional revenue streams, and now the bastions of IRL kit like tees, hats, knives, drinks, books and sauces are a mainstay from some of the biggest stars on the platform. 

Hot Ones feels like one of the OGs in the space. Friendly, talented interviewer Sean Evans has been coaxing celebs through an array of escalatingly spicy wings covered in hot sauce since 2015. The show has only grown in popularity since its inception, with an intense fandom eagerly awaiting each episode drop. 

Among other things, they sell the sauces featured in the show, allowing viewers the chance to test the steel of their own taste buds up against that of the famous guests. The brand’s even collaborated with household names like Pringles and Hot Pockets – it’s all part of First We Feast’s stated aim of giving consumers as many IRL possibilities to dabble in the heat. 

The list is kind of endless, but Steve-O – if you count Steve-O as a YouTuber – is selling a tonne of merch, while in the UK, Diary of a CEO’s Steven Bartlett has a book out. And an honourable mention must go to podcast merch – there is, of course, plenty of crossover in this space, with many podcasts also airing on YouTube – with shows like How Long Gone peddling caps, totes and more. 

But then there’s something to be said about YouTubers, and YouTube fame, because it can be a specific, siloed kind of fame. You can be told that a “PewDiePie”, or a man named “Mr Beast” (who has his own virtual restaurant offering, Mr Beast Burgers, and even a line of chocolate) are some of the biggest creators on the platform, with legions of subscribers in the hundreds of millions, and not know anything about them, what is it they do or how they get the money to do it. You may look into what they do, and come away with no clearer sense of what is it they actually do, or why they are so popular. 

YouTube has always felt like this to an uninformed outsider looking in. And so it makes you wonder why some of its biggest names feel the need to encroach on the physical world with their merch. It’s almost if their digital success doesn’t feel real enough to them. YouTube is so giant now and its videos are so pervasive, but the online content juggernaut is literally a merch destination in its own right at this point. 2024, you suspect, will see no end of wild collabs and content creator-branded wares as the virtual becomes the real in new and ever more lucrative ways.