15 Years Later, Kel Mitchell Still Loves Orange Soda -- But He Prefers Diet

We sat down with Mitchell, now 37, to talk about his new Nickelodeon show and his "All That" days.

It's been 15 years since "Kenan and Kel" aired on Nickelodeon, and yet, you still can't pass a bottle of orange soda in the supermarket without thinking of Kel Mitchell.

Kenan: Who loves orange soda?

Kel: Kel loves orange soda!

Kenan: Is it true?

Kel: Mm-hmm! I do! I do, I do, I do-oooh!

Mitchell, now 37, is synonymous with the orange, carbonated beverage thanks to his character's unwieldy obsession with it on "Kenan & Kel." Though the concept of "going viral" was nonexistent in 1996, the hilarious bit, a collaboration between showrunner Dan Schneider and Mitchell, became the beloved show's most iconic phrase. And Mitchell is totally cool with it.

Keenan and Kel

"I get stopped everywhere I go," Mitchell told MTV News during a press day to promote his new Nick series "Game Shakers." "I'm at a red light, and people are like, 'Do the orange soda thing! Do 'Welcome to Goodburger!' And it's cool, man. It's humbling. I'm glad that I was a part of people's childhoods."

Back in 1995, however, 15-year-old Mitchell had no idea that he'd be part of the '90s monoculture. Raised in Chicago's South Side, Mitchell found acting as a way to keep himself out of trouble. When he heard about a kids' sketch comedy show in the works -- the first of its kind -- Mitchell jumped at the chance to audition.

"My audition for 'All That' was pretty hilarious," Mitchell recalled. "I was 15 years old, and I had finals that day. I never forget my monologue, but on that particular day, I forgot my monologue."

Schneider and co. asked Mitchell to step outside, take a minute to rehearse and walk back in, but on his way out, the lanky teen tripped and knocked over the camera setup.

"I thought I had ruined the audition, but I guess I did it in a funny way, and they thought it was hilarious," Mitchell said. "I came back in, and I killed the monologue. They asked me to do some impersonations. I did impersonations of my family members, people on the train in Chicago, and that's when some of the more memorable characters, like Ed from 'All That' and Coach Kreeton, who was inspired by my coach, came out."

Kel Mitchell

Mitchell as Ed in his iconic Goodburger sketch.

Mitchell and his fellow "All That" cast members -- which included Lori Beth Denberg, Josh Server and his future co-star Kenan Thompson -- didn't know if "All That" would be a hit, and frankly, they didn't care.

"We were just kids," Mitchell said. "We were all goofy and creative at the same time. It was like summer camp."

Of course, there were certain perks of the job that were nice. Since the show was originally filmed in Orlando, the teenage cast of "All That" would hang out at Universal Studios, where they were allowed to cut the lines and ride the "Back to the Future" ride as many times as they wanted.

"For us, it was all about the musical guests," Mitchell said. "You got Aaliyah, TLC, Usher, when he first came out, Outkast... For me, listening to that type of music, growing up in Chicago, it was just amazing. We were hanging out with TLC all the time. I remember they stole my little sister and called her the new member."

"All That" was a success, but Schneider wasn't done making magic happen. Mitchell and Thompson's chemistry first sparked during a Mavis and Clavis sketch in which the teens "just riffed off each other" for a few minutes. Schneider pitched a new show for Mitchell and Thompson, called "Kenan and Kel," to the network, and another '90s phenomenon was born.


Kenan and Kel

Mitchell and Thompson starred on "Kenan and Kel" from 1996 to 2000.

During tapings of "Kenan & Kel," Mitchell and Thompson would often entertain the audience after the episode wrapped. "I would sing and rap and dance," said Mitchell. They were like "brothers," said Mitchell.

"Kenan & Kel" ended its run in 2000. Thompson joined the cast of "Saturday Night Live!" in 2003, while Mitchell has remained close to the Nickelodeon family. Now, he and Schneider are hoping lightning strikes for a third time with their new Nickelodeon series "Game Shakers."

"It's awesome coming back to Nickelodeon, working with Dan Schneider," he said. "It's like a reunion. We always have fun onset, improving. I don't know what's inside Dan's brain. The stuff that he comes up with, even back in the day with 'All That' and 'Kenan & Kel,' he's just amazing at creating these characters and making people laugh."

This time around, Mitchell is playing hip-hop mogul named Double G, and while he's not obsessed with orange soda, he is very into himself.

"I'm a mix of 50 Cent and Kanye West, and I get to have a lot of fun," Mitchell said. "There's a little Chris Brown sprinkled in there, too, so you'll see some of my dance moves."

"It's a dream come true role," he added. "I get to dance, I get to rap and I get to sing. It's incredible."

"Game Shakers" -- which premieres on Saturday at 8:30 p.m. ET -- follows two young girls, Babe (Cree Cicchino) and Kenzie (Madisyn Shipman), who start a multi-million-dollar gaming company and take on rap superstar Double G as their business partner. These girls are smart business woman who design and code their own games.

"I think it's awesome to have two girls that are role models," Mitchell said. "I have a daughter myself, and she's the same age as Cree [Cicchino] and Maddie [Shipman] on the show. It's cool to have a show were two girls code and create their own games. They're kicking app!"


Game Shakers

Mitchell and the cast of "Game Shakers."

But this isn't just a show for children. '90s kids will get a kick out of all of the nostalgic Nickelodeon references -- from "Drake & Josh" to Pear Pads à la "Zoey 101," "Game Shakers" knows its history.

"There will be a lot of references that people from the '90s will get... There's a lot of cool jokes that are from the '90s. We have some 'Kenan & Kel' references and 'Drake & Josh' references -- and also a lot of great guest stars from 'Victorious' and 'iCarly' and some other ones too... [Mitchell laughs maniacally]."

Oh, and if you do see Double G holding a bottle orange soda, you can bet that it's diet. "I'm trying to keep it healthy for the kids!"

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