Fairfield royalty: The Shirley Temple King
FAIRFIELD — Lots of kids dream of being famous when they grow up, but Fairfield 6-year-old Leo Kelly skipped a decade or two when his Instagram page gained hundreds of thousands of followers in January.
Leo Kelly, also known as the Shirley Temple King, has gained a foothold in the world of Instagram influencers by reviewing his favorite drink — the Shirley Temple. Leo rates the iconic red drinks from a score of zero to 10.
A Shirley Temple is a non-alcoholic mixed drink traditionally made with ginger ale and a splash of grenadine and garnished with a maraschino cherry.
Leo said he had the drink for the first time three years ago when he was on vacation in Myrtle Beach, S.C.
“It was so good and yummy,” Leo said, adding that cherries are his favorite fruit. He said he also loves the “spark” that the ginger ale adds to the drink. He said he likes that Shirley Temples are a fun, family-friendly kid’s drink.
Leo’s profile, theshirleytempleking, has 280,000 followers on Instagram. He recently appeared on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” and a host of other television and internet programs. Lisa Kelly, Leo’s mom, said Leo has been recording videos on her phone since he was 3 years old.
Or, as Leo puts it, “(Since) I was younger.
“And I still want to do this, I like being in front of an audience,” Leo said. “It’s just fun for other people to get to see you.”
Kelly said the profile was created in August 2019. She said her son originally had around 200 followers that were mostly family and friends.
“CTbites did a little story about him first and he did get some followers off of that,” Kelly said. “Then we went to Hoodoo Brown (in Ridgefield) for a review. A few days later, Shay Spence, an editor from “People Magazine” saw his account and it went viral overnight.”
Kelly said they went to bed one night and woke up around 2 a.m. to see that a retweet of one of Leo’s reviews by the editor had “blown up” Leo’s account. In the morning, they received calls from several television programs.
“I think he was at 300 followers the night that it went viral,” she said. “And we woke up to thousands.”
Kelly said the exposure has been exciting as well as bit overwhelming for her and her husband, Tom Kelly. She said Leo does not understand the magnitude of his popularity but he has enjoyed it.
“Nothing has really changed for him. He still has the same school day,” Lisa Kelly said. “The only thing that’s changed for him is, when we go out, he’s been getting noticed and people want pictures and all that, which is fun. He’s been loving the attention.”
Leo and Dave Portnoy, the founder of Barstool Sports and a pizza reviewer, did a joint pizza-Shirley Temple review on Portnoy’s Instagram page — which has more than 1.9 million followers.
“That was really, really fun,” Leo said. “ I loved that another person that rates stuff got to (collaborate) with me.”
Leo said pizza and Shirley Temples are a good match — indeed, he said, Shirley Temples go well with everything except for salad.
Lisa Kelly said a lot of restaurants are asking for Leo to give them a review but that ruins the spontaneity of the review and takes the fun out of it.
In Connecticut, Leo gave the Shirley Temple from Hoodoo Brown BBQ a 9.5 and a Shirley Temple Milkshake from Elm Street Diner in Stamford a 9.6. The only 10 he has given so far was a Shirley Temple he got from Santa while staying at Lotte New York Palace in New York City.
“It honestly was a 10 because it was Santa Claus, you know?” Leo said.
The Shirley Temple King said a perfect 10 score comes from the best combination of grenadine, ginger ale, good garnishes and crushed ice. He said decorations, like umbrellas, also help the score.
Kelly said Leo has signed with United Talent Agency, a Los Angeles organization that represents artists. She said he is in the process of signing with a management company as well.
“I think he’s going to continue to review Shirley Temples if that’s his passion,” she said. “But he loves reviewing things. So, we may ultimately open up the door for him to review other things as well. We’re going to kind of let Leo take the reins here and follow his lead as to what he wants to do next. As long as he’s happy doing it, he can continue on.”