Nelk, the YouTube collective known for their boundary-pushing pranks and party animal hijinks — netting over 20 million views a month — is set to release their own hard seltzer brand, which the guys created from scratch and has been a year in the making.
“YouTube never paid us. We’re only here because you guys supported us by buying merch,” Nelk co-founder Kyle Forgeard explains in a video documenting the product’s creation. “We get offered big deals, million dollar deals all the time. We’re not interested in the short-term money, we’re in it for the long-term play, that long-term game.”
Accordingly, given that the group’s videos frequently feature hard partying, they are launching this month a hard seltzer called Happy Dad. The product is distinguished by the fact that it only contains 1 gram of sugar, 2 grams of carbs, 100 calories, and is chock full of electrolytes.
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The venture arrives after Nelk brought noted digital execs and Shots co-founders John Shahidi and Sam Shahidi onboard to assist with their YouTube channel. John has been serving as president of their Full Send brand since late last year, and Sam will serve as CEO of Happy Dad, which also marks a partnership with TransWorld Alliance, a sales and marketing company with a focus in the wine and spirits business.
In a video posted on Memorial Day, Nelk — which comprises a rotating cast but is fronted by Forgeard and Stephen ‘SteveWillDoIt’ Deleonardis (who nabs 10 million views per month on his personal channel) — chronicled the creation process of their indie brand from soup to nuts. This includes taste-testing, logo and can design (the guys wanted a vintage feel and insisted on standard, beer-sized cans), flavor selection (at launch, options include wild cherry, lemon-lime, watermelon, and pineapple), and manufacturing at a brewery in small-town Wisconsin.
The video (above), also features appearances from famous taste testers like Jordan Belfort and Machine Gun Kelly.
The initial Happy Dad run will include 50,000 cases of product — with each case containing two twelve packs — for a total of 1.2 million cans. Happy Dad’s distribution plan is to roll out on a state-by-state and country-by-country basis, the guys say, given that they own the product themselves and must navigate local liquor laws. It will hit roughly 150 stores in California on June 14, whereupon it will also be available online, shipping to roughly 30 states.
Nelk, which was founded in 2010, currently counts 6.6 million YouTube subscribers. Their controversial stunts have earned the group the ire of both YouTube and the law. YouTube banned the channel for a week in March 2020 and temporarily suspended monetization after the guys hosted multiple massive, maskless gathering at Illinois State University and in Seaside Heights, N.J. last fall. And Forgeard was arrested last month in Texas for reportedly impersonating a mall security officer, presumably as part of a prank.