What would Emily Mariko do?
The 29-year-old has a chokehold on the For You Page of every woman I know.
This is for everyone else who is on “ice cube in rice” TikTok. —Kate
Rarely has one person so dominated the TikTok feeds of 20-something women in my life without landing a glossy mag profile or monster brand deal, so I can only assume both those things are in the works for TikTokker Emily Mariko.
If her name doesn’t ring a bell, perhaps these words will: leftover salmon bowl, ice in rice, perfectly-sized parchment paper, the sound of an air-tight Tupperware lid unclasping. These are hallmarks of 29-year-old Mariko’s videos, in which she silently cooks meals for herself using neatly labeled spices and ingredients from her weekly trip to the farmers market. In the words of a TikTok I saw (but now can’t find), she simply shows up for herself every day with a clean kitchen, nutritious food, and other content that is aspirational and would be entirely accessible, if I just got off of my ass.
There are several notable things about Mariko, the first being that she began September with 70,000 TikTok followers and now has 1.6 million. The second is just how much she’s already suffused my everyday life and the lives of my peers. Last week, I was putting together a pantry meal of leftovers and reheated the rice for it using an ice cube and a sheet of parchment paper, just like Mariko. I snapped a pic and posted it on my Instagram Story, asking if anyone else was on “ice cube in rice TikTok.” Almost immediately, I had a dozen people in my DMs saying yes, they were, who is this girl, why is she so great, and does the ice cube trick actually make leftover rice better (kind of, I guess)?
“My life is so different than it was last week, all because of her,” Rachel Greenspan, editor at Insider, told me.
It’s no exaggeration to say that all my choices in the kitchen are now being made with Mariko in mind. I’m basically making sure that whatever I’m doing, if I were to document it on video, would be interchangeable with her content. Some of these are activities I shouldn’t have needed the inspiration to start doing—like taking everything off my counters to clean them, and finding ways to use up all my leftovers. But, like, I also bought corn at the farmers market over the weekend because it seemed like just the wholesome thing Mariko would do.
Mariko is far from the first TikTokker to blow up on the app, but she’s already outpaced previous creators who had similar trajectories and ultimately plateaued. The reason? Mariko combines two of TikTok’s favorite things: viral recipes and that-girl lifestyle.
Mariko’s leftover salmon-sriracha-mayo rice bowl with avocado and dried seaweed is so popular people get excited when she has recently eaten salmon—because that means she’ll be using the leftovers for the rice bowl any minute now. When she’s not cooking, she’s cleaning her kitchen, vacuuming her couch, doing her laundry—like she took TikTok’s redefined version of “hot girl summer” and ran with it.
Mariko, interestingly, is first and foremost a YouTuber. Like it was for Farha Khalidi, explosive TikTok growth has been a helpful tool for growing Mariko’s other platforms. In September, Mariko gained 10,000 YouTube subscribers, which sounds small compared to TikTok, but is her biggest spike there. She also has a Substack!
I unfortunately couldn’t get in touch with Mariko, or else I would have asked her the secrets of waking up early and keeping her fridge so clean. Luckily, with this many followers and a whole new kind of content career in front of her, she’ll likely make a video telling us.