Even by the undiscerning standards of today’s social media landscape, Chris Kostaras and Joe Giordano seem unlikely Internet sensations.
Both are longtime US postal workers. Both are proud, old-school Bostonians. And both express, at best, an indifference about the ways of the social media world.
But since videos of the two mail carriers offering their decidedly straightforward — and often hysterical — reviews of high-end candies and treats hit the Web three years ago, the pair have generated thousands of online views and achieved a kind of cult-hero status.
“My daughter said to me, ‘Dad, you’re Insta-famous,’ ” says Kostaras, 60, who grew up in Boston and has been delivering mail in the South End for more than 30 years. He appears mostly confused by his newfound status as an online personality. “I had no idea what that meant.”
To be sure, these aren’t high-brow, hoity-toity reviews of foodie websites and culinary magazines.
Although the treats they review are decidedly high-end — goat-milk caramel, organic sun-popped popcorn, spice-infused jellies — their reviews are decidedly not. You’ll find no discussion of flavor profiles or composition, mouthfeel or “umami.”
“Ya take a bite and you kinda wanna . . . take another bite,” Kostaras shrugs in one clip, as he samples something pink.
In such semiregular postings, viewers are treated to stream-of-consciousness musings that usually digress to unrelated topics — all delivered in a Boston accent thicker than hippopotamus skin.
On a specialty ice cream made with dark chocolate, Mexican chiles, and almonds: “The dahhk chocolate doesn’t taste too dahhk chocolate-y.”
On oat bark cookies: “I’d go to town on this tonight watching the basketball game.”
On something called sesame bites: “Looks like the worm in the bottom of tequila.”
The whole thing started a few years back, when Sofi Madison opened up a gift shop in a small storefront on Tremont Street called Olives & Grace.
Regularly inundated with samples from businesses hopeful that she would stock their products, she began delivering them to the letter carriers who spent their afternoon break on the stoop outside the shop, occasionally filming their responses with her cellphone.
“Who would ever think of that?” asks Giordano, 45, of Lynn. “Put these two goofballs on and have them try out roasted peanuts and see if they like ’em?”
‘My daughter said to me, “Dad, you’re Insta-famous.’’ I had no idea what that meant.’— Chris Kostaras, who has been delivering mail in the South End for more than 30 years
Their reactions, she decided, were too good not to share, and soon, she was posting the videos to the shop’s Instagram account, dubbing the series “The OG Review.”
Online, fans gush over the two (“Omg he is everything!” wrote one commenter in response to a video of Kostaras taste-testing a chocolate bar). Business owners from across the country clamor for the pair to give their products the OG treatment. These days, meanwhile, it can be difficult for the two to get through their respective South End mail routes without being recognized by avid followers, some of whom request selfies.
For the most part, the two have responded to the attention with a Boston-like shrug.
Though their reviews are unfailingly light-hearted, they have no problem voicing their displeasure when an item fails to meet their standards.
“No disrespect,” says Sal Bottari, another OG Reviews regular, while sampling a high-end chocolate patty. “But I feel like I’m just eatin’ a Russell Stover’s. . . . It doesn’t separate the men from the boys, if you know what I mean.”
As the OG Review has continued to gain steam, Madison says, she’s been approached by local cinematographers offering to elevate her short, no-frills video clips into a more refined final product.
So far, though, she has declined.
The beauty of the videos, she explains, is that they’re “raw and real and unfinished and imperfect.”
“And that, I think, is the love that people feel — that it’s a real experience, nobody’s practiced or nervous,” she says. “It’s as if you get to experience [them] yourself.”
As for what, exactly, it is about the videos that seems to have struck a nerve with viewers, the mail carriers can’t quite say for sure.
Standing inside Madison’s shop one recent weekday afternoon, Kostaras, Giordano, and Madison considered the draw of a pair of middle-aged mailmen reviewing high-end treats. Perhaps, they hypothesized, it has something to do with the originality of the idea. Or the authentic nature of the videos’ two main characters.
Or maybe, Kostaras allowed, it boiled down to something much simpler.
“Honestly,” he said, “I just think it’s the way we talk.”Dugan Arnett can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @duganarnett.