In the Spoon series Buttered Up, we interview content creators in the food space about what their job is like. This month, we chatted with Mara Fulton of @marafulton.

Mara Fulton, a tiny utensil and canned meat enthusiast who is known for her adorable dorm room recipe videos, met with me over Zoom this Friday. In the past few months, when procrastination necessitated all-nighters, I feasted on delightfully nourishing meals instead of cold bowls of cereal mush all thanks to Mara’s videos. During final exams, I made spam musubi and Tabasco burrito bowls just about every day, and even made myself a celebratory chocolate layer cake, all with only a mini fridge and microwave to store and cook my delectables.

You can find Mara Fulton on TikTok @marafulton or support her thrifting through her Instagram account @mara_apparel. Just a warning, she’s a Wisconsinite who attends University of Minnesota, so prepare yourself for awesomeness with a side of midwestern accent.

Spoon University: Talk about how your love for canned meat and tiny silverware began.

Mara Fulton: It started with canned meat because I was looking for a high-protein option in college. I had a mini fridge, a microwave, and not a lot of room. I wanted something that didn’t need a freezer. So, I just went to Walmart and picked out canned meat as one of the high-protein options. And the tiny silverware comes from home. My family always used malt spoons for eating, so when I went off to college, I went on Amazon for malt spoons and ended up finding pickle forks too. I used this silverware for eating the canned meat, and I thought nothing of it. But, people had a great reaction.

SU: Tell us about the first food TikTok video. Did you have any expectations going into it?

MF: None. I just thought I would try filming a cooking video. Then, I just left it for a few days, because it was not doing well at all. And then there were 100,000 views the next time I went on. It was insane. I was not expecting that at all.

SU: Explain the start of your cooking hacks obsessions.

MF: Before I went to college, I would cook for us, my family. I was the primary cook. None of my siblings like to cook, and my parents work a lot, so I just took it on. So, when I went to college and had no space, I had to think about how to adjust the recipes I would make at home to a dorm room microwave. After I started posting more food videos, people began recommending recipes, and then I would figure out how to make those recipes in a microwave. The best though was probably the six-layer cake I made in my microwave. The dorm hall ended up smelling so good. I’ve never received scent complaints, but people come down my hall, knock on my door, and tell me they love watching my TikToks, which is really sweet.

SU: Explain how your food blogging has changed.

MF: Trying new things. I’ve never been that picky, but when I tried the canned meat, and all the stuff I made after the first video, I’d never had any of them before.

SU: Tell us about your favorite recipe.

MF: A favorite recipe that I made in the dorm was a Spam musubi bowl. I made the spam with soy sauce and brown sugar. I had only had it plain and cold before, but I followed a comment suggestion to add soy sauce and brown sugar. That one I really ended up enjoying, and I didn’t think I would enjoy it that much. Then, Spam sent me a bunch of different spam flavors to try.

SU: What other food brands have you collabed with?

MF: Spam was one of the big ones. They were the first actual company that reached out to me. But since then, Tabasco, the hot sauce, has been my favorite. They sent me a gallon of hot sauce. When they first reached out, they said they were just going to send a few small bottles, and then a huge gallon showed up.

SU: What are some of your favorite recipe hacks?

MF: Two of them have surprised people. How I peel an avocado, I’ll cut it and then peel the skin away. That way, you get more avocado. Then, how I peel a mango, I’ll cut down close to the pit and put the two halves against the lid of a cup and peel off the skin that way.

SU: Share some fan reactions that you’ve particularly enjoyed.

MF: There are some things that surprised me. This girl reached out to me through TikTok messaging, telling me that my videos have helped her so much with cooking and eating. And then, this mom reached out and said that her two-year-old boy would watch my videos to fall asleep at night. She sent me a video of him laughing at one of my TikToks and kissing the phone. It was the cutest thing ever. In general, though, I love going through the comments on all my videos. A week ago, I tried dried edible bugs — someone sent them in the mail — and one of the comments asked if I was sure it wasn’t hate mail. I also get called the Canned meat queen. I like that.

SU: Do you ever get recognized around your college campus?

MF: In the last two weeks at school, every day, two or three groups of people would come up and say ‘I’ve seen your videos.’ I come from a small town where everyone knows everyone and then went to a new school in a big city where nobody knew me. So it’s different having people come up to me. But, It’s all been positive so far, it’s been good.