“Cooking with Lynja” star Lynn Yamada Davis, the TikTok creator known as “the internet’s grandma” and beloved for her quirky, educational cooking content, has died. She was 67.
Her daughter Hannah Mariko Shofet told The New York Times that Davis died of esophageal cancer on January 1. Her youngest son and co-creator of her social media channels, Tim Davis, announced his mother’s death in videos posted online on Friday.
“I’m super sad to inform you that unfortunately, Linda, my mom, has passed away,” Tim Davis said. “Her final moments were super peaceful, and thankfully she was surrounded by the people she loved most: her friends and family.”
A mother of four and grandmother of two, Davis’ cheerful demeanor and eccentric editing style was adored by viewers on Instagram, TikTok and YouTube. At first glance, Davis may have appeared as another maternal cooking show host, but her exuberance and the flamboyant visuals in her content won over a younger audience. As one TikTok commenter said, “on the outside this grandma looks like a boomer, but inside she’s straight up a zoomer.”
Before her death, she amassed 17.8 million TikTok followers and nearly 10 million YouTube subscribers.
Although she was the face of the channel, Davis credited her son Tim, 27, for her online success. The channel started out as a pandemic project — in 2020, her son asked her to record a video every day so that he could keep his editing skills polished during the lockdown. Davis previously told People that she had “no idea” what TikTok was until Tim started posting her videos online.
“He’s the one who writes the script. He’s the one who does the videography. He does all the editing,” Davis said. “So, he really is the genius behind Cooking with Lynja. I just show up.”
The duo first went viral with a June 2020 video about bacon, egg and cheese sandwiches, which received over 313,000 likes. As their viewership grew with every viral recipe video and travel vlog, Davis also documented her battle with cancer. She was diagnosed with throat cancer in 2019 and esophageal cancer in 2021. In a 2021 video about making cookies to thank healthcare workers at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, she told viewers, “I’m doing great, and I love making these videos for you.”
In 2022, Cooking with Lynja won Streamy Awards in the food and editing categories. She was also honored as a Forbes’ 50 over 50 creator that year.
Before she was a content creator, Davis was an accomplished engineer — a feat for women of color at the time. She graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1977 with a degree in civil engineering, and then received her master’s in business administration and public health from Columbia University. She worked in telecommunications for Bell Labs (now AT&T), her daughter told The New York Times.
But to many online, she was the internet’s grandma. Tim Davis told The New York Times that his mother asked him to continue posting unreleased content after her death, which is why her account remained active this month. In the most recent video, Tim Davis showed viewers photos of his mother throughout her life.
“She is so intelligent and elegant in this picture,” Tim Davis said. “And when I think of my mom, this is who I think of. The internet’s grandma. She was the best. So glad that you guys all got to experience how wonderful of a person she was, and how you guys treated her so well. So thank you for these last couple of years, we had so much fun making videos.”