“Lights, Camera, Slurp!”

For a lot of people, eating in front of a stranger is something that makes them a little uneasy. But for mukbang Youtube stars, it is just another way to bring home the bacon by combining two things they enjoy – eating and entertaining others.

Mukbang, which initially gained popularity in South Korea roughly 10 years ago, is defined as “a live online audiovisual broadcast in which a host eats food while interacting with their audience”. As those familiar with mukbang videos may know, the hosts actually consume insane amounts of food in one sitting. They eat everything from bowls of noodles to trays of fried chicken, all for the amusement of the millions of fans watching from home.

If you are not familiar with the concept of mukbang, you may naturally wonder why this appeals to such a huge audience. It is believed that viewers who may not be lucky enough to regularly consume food this way may be vicariously eating through these streamers. For others, it provides some companionship – albeit virtual – while they have their own meals.

One particular style of mukbang that has gained traction recently is ASMR eating. ASMR, which stands for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, can be explained as a “brain massage” triggered by certain audio or visual stimuli, characterized by a pleasurable static-like tingling sensation. The stimuli in ASMR food videos are generally the munching, crunching and slurping of food, recorded using binaural microphones to give an ultra-realistic experience.

These intense eating sounds are obviously off-putting for some, but there is no denying that the videos are wildly popular; one YouTube channel by the name Zach Choi ASMR has 6.13 million subscribers!

Now, if you think you can stomach it or if you’re in the mood for some mukbang, tune in to Zach Choi’s latest video ( ASMR Cheesy Chicken Nuggets, Hashbrowns and Fries. Bon appetit!

Words by Fathmath Sadha