The German man who made it big on YouTube with ASMR ice cream rolls

Grobe holds up the final product from filming the creation of a brownie and Oreo ice cream roll mash-up at his studio in Hamburg. — dpa

There's something soothing about Gil Grobe's YouTube channel: In each of his 10-minute videos, there's no music or talking, just the sounds of him making ice cream roll variations.

With a microphone set up right next to his workspace, he creates tasty mash-ups such as Pringles and caramel icecream rolls, or takes the savoury route with sausage, French fries or bell pepper versions.

The German man's creations seem to have struck a nerve, as his channel, aptly named "Ice Cream Rolls," has millions of subscribers from around the world who tune in to watch his latest videos.

Grobe, 40, who lives in the German city of Hamburg, has more than 10.8 million subscribers on the platform - one of only four Germans to do so - and earning him YouTube's coveted Diamond Play Button.

"I didn't expect this at all," Grobe tells dpa as he reflects on his success story from his studio in Hamburg.

The idea came to him six years ago during a trip to Thailand.

He saw a crowd on a street and was curious to see what was going on, figuring it must be "something spectacular," he says.

The crowd was watching someone make ice cream rolls, using a plate cooled to minus-30 degrees Celsius. The cook spread out liquid ice cream, smoothing it thin and flat using two metal spatulas, before adding in chopped fruit or other ingredients. The ice cream was spread and scraped until it was thin as a crepe, allowing it to freeze, before rolling themix up and serving it as small rolls.

"I filmed it on my cell phone, and that was basically the start of everything," says Grobe. He uploaded the film on social media, and it soon went viral. "That's basically how the channel came about."

After getting US$100 (RM412.50) for the video, he says, he realised that he could make money by posting videos online and gathered more ideas during a trip to New York. "I looked at some shops that were already offering ice cream rolls," he says. He then tried it out at home.

Initially he used a regular frying pan that he first put in the freezer, but that proved to be complicated in the long term.

Things really got rolling when he ordered a professional ice cream machine from China. Now, Grobe and his team upload new videos daily that he films at the studio in his home. They never feature Grobe, however — you only see his gloved hands as he prepares the rolls.

The videos have become so popular that he was able to leave his job at a marketing agency to start his own business. Now, most of his income comes from advertising shown before and during the videos.

The secret to his success, Grobe says, comes down to three things.

First, it's an appealing, feel-good topic — "everyone likes ice cream." Second, it's a process that not many people have seen before, so they find it fascinating. Third comes ASMR, he says, which stands for autonomous sensory meridian response and means a pleasant, tingling sensation triggered by audio or visual stimulus. In the videos, he makes a point of snapping his fingers or tapping the spatulas in front of the microphone in order to trigger ASMR.

Grobe has many more ideas, including for further YouTube channels.

"Who knows, maybe one day we'll open the first ice cream roll store in Hamburg," he says.

Meanwhile for any budding YouTube stars out there, Grobe has some age-old advice: "You shouldn't want to become a YouTuber just to become a YouTuber, but because you can live your passion there." – dpa

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