With the introduction of Disney+ and the impending Lizzie McGuire reboot, ’tis clearly the season for old fashioned nostalgia. Seeing Hilary Duff posing with Adam Lamberg, aka Gordo, makes me want to be eight years old again, rushing home from gymnastics to sit in front of the TV, wishing I had crimped hair and more scrunchies.
And because the internet knows all our thoughts and feelings before we do, I was slightly creeped out, but mostly excited, when I went onto YouTube the other day to find the most magical channel sitting in my “Recommended” section: Christy Carlson Romano’s Kitchen Throwback.
If you were a child growing up in the ’00s, you definitely remember Romano as Kim Possible in Kim Possible, Ren Stevens in Even Stevens, and Jennifer Stone in Cadet Kelly. (If you were a nerd, you might also remember her days singing as part of the Broadway Kids.) Now Romano has a YouTube channel where she cooks alongside all the C-list stars you probably forgot about but definitely love. Ricky Ullman, the star of Phil of the Future? He has an episode. Jake Thomas, who played pesky brother Matt McGuire in Lizzie McGuire? He has one too.
They’re the kind of people you remember in the middle of a work day and think, “I should really Google them, I wonder what they’re up to.” But Romano has done the heavy lifting for us. What’s more, the episodes are all themed to the person’s show, which is a Ren Stevens type-A move if I ever heard one.
Upon discovering the channel, the person I first clicked on had to be Kimberly J. Brown, the iconic Marnie Piper from the original Halloweentown movies. The video is basically what you would except: the two talk about their friendship and Brown’s work on the film, the avid fanbase that followed, and her relationship with her Halloweentown co-star Daniel Kountz, who played Kalabar “Kal” Jr. But seeing them together immediately transports you back to a simpler time, when Disney Channel was endlessly entertaining and Shia LaBeouf hadn’t been arrested yet.
Next up? Obviously Will Friedle who I will lovingly always see as Eric Matthews from Boy Meets World, but who was also a Disney Channel star during his days playing Ron Stoppable alongside Romano’s Kim Possible. The two made The Naco (!!) and spent a decent portion of the episode talking in their animated characters’ voices.
There are also some truly incredible surprises, including an episode featuring Devon Werkheiser, aka Ned from Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide. One ELLE.com editor watched it and aptly remarked, “Wait but Ned is….hot?”
Not only is grown Ned hot, he has a beard, wears a harness, has a vast knowledge of plant-based protein, and works for a sustainable scarf company where the workers “bless your scarf so you may learn to bless yourself. ” You can’t make it up!
“But wait,” you might be saying, “What about [insert random character here]?” Chances are, they have an episode, too. There’s Jason Earles, who played Jackson Stewart, aka the brother, in Hannah Montana, making cheese jerky. There’s High School Musical‘s Monique Coleman making crème brûlée, which doubles as a “Stick to the Status Quo” song reference. The Cheetah Girls Sabrina Bryan makes an appearance—and reveals that Solange Knowles almost played Aqua in the movies, which who knew?? For some reason, there’s Jonathan Bennett, who played Aaron Samuels in Mean Girls, and of course, Drake Bell from Drake & Josh.
Romano even recreates her “We Went to the Moon in 1969” dance from Even Stevens, complete with a classroom full of people and the OG Even Stevens principal. Again, a very Ren move.
Admittedly, the show, much like its Disney and Nickelodeon inspirations, has its own cringe-worthy moments, including the “Yummy” theme song and the fact that Romano brings her husband on at the end to test the food and see if it’s “hubby approved.” But I’m too starved for happiness to care about such things. All I want is to feel like it’s 2003 again, and this channel feeds my soul.