I have been getting heavy into watching YouTube channels lately, both as a point of research to catalog popular YouTube trends for my career blog, BE YOUR OWN BOSS, but also because it’s fun and inspiring to watch creative people do things they love to do and earn money from it.
Lately I’ve gotten into shows where people from all over the world taste serious junk food, candy and desserts. It started rather innocently for me, trying to vicariously live through these YouTube sensations, until I learned what MukBang was and decided one should take care with what they support.
I kind of feel like we should have learned our lesson from that guy (Adam Richman) who did that Travel network show (Man vs. Food) where he went around doing the “how much can you eat” sort of food competitions at restaurants, got super sick and overweight, and then changed the show format to then go around the country and film others pigging out and destroying their health, so he could maintain his own.
I’m not trying to knock it – although it’s perfect evidence of putting money over principle – I actually love the show.
But just tonight I accidentally learned about the gross YouTube trend called: MukBang (#mukbang) – which is apparently something that started in South Korea in the 2010s – and has been picked up by American (United States) culture, of course – we’ll accept any reason to stuff our faces.
What Does MukBang Mean?
MukBang, according to Wikipedia, “is an online audiovisual broadcast in which a host eats large quantities of food while interacting with their audience.”
Although it started in South Korea where it’s quite common to see young girls down a bowl of noodles in a second flat – and perhaps 5 lbs of snow king crab legs sounds like a luxury – it has made its way over here to the good ol’ US of A where the food options are a bit more disgusting, and perhaps a little more (or a LOT more) calorie-heavy.
I was watching one of my favorite YouTube eating shows – which I’ll get to shortly – and another video by Steph Pappas was recommended to me as a related topic. This was my first introduction to MukBang.
It caught my eye because it had over 1.5 million views (which turned out to be nothing compared to the 2.5 million views on her McDonald’s MukBang.) I really wanted to know what kind of food eating video was so interesting to that many people – and have to admit, I was more than a little tempted by the title, which included the words “Taco” and “Bell.”
The video turned out to be just over 15 minutes of this cute little, teenage girl, stuffing her face with enough calories at Taco Bell to energize her entire week. As she does this, she also talks about how she usually eats McDonald’s five times a week, and just had it this morning.
How does she eat so many gross calories without getting sick, extremely fat, or having bad acne? She’s going to be so sorry in her thirties and forties.
I completely understand the concept of creating a food show in which you eat things that you might not regularly eat – but you film maybe once a week and don’t eat anything else on filming day, right?
Also, tasting things is a bit more appropriate and seems to serve a purpose – there is no need to eat three burritos in a sitting to prove a point to no one.
I now understand why this video has over two million views, it’s like watching a train wreck – you want to look away, but you can’t.
This girl may be taking it too far – and my concern is for her personal health as much as it is for the young people whose videos she is inspiring.
Dumping ice water on your head one time is one thing (#icebucketchallenge), but if there is anything I could tell my teenage self, it would be that fast food (particular Taco Bell) is so not worth the addiction and body pain that comes later.
I wasn’t raised on that stuff so I didn’t get hooked until I was able to spend my own money, and my parents didn’t really have a say anymore.
Perhaps my strict food upbringing made Taco Bell all the more attractive to me – I know some people need fast food for convenience and speed – but this girl is make it look way too sexy to take down two servings of Cinnabon poppers.
(I want Jim Gaffigan to specifically write a comedy sketch about MukGang, now. He did so great tearing down Cinnabon and Hot Pockets.)
She also talks about how people made comments on her last video (the McDonald’s MukBang) regarding the way it was edited – I guess a lot of people thought she wasn’t fully chewing and swallowing, and perhaps spitting her food out in the edits – so her “fans” were complaining and wanting to see her actually swallow the food.
I guess the fascination is that she remains so thin while eating so much. Has no one heard of bulimia? This is a food disorder waiting to happen – but it doesn’t even stop there.
After watching this video I was taken on a YouTube adventure through video after video of gorgeous women just binging on grossness to the point I felt like throwing up. I almost lost it at this 50k subscribers celebration video in which a woman tastes no less than 30 different flavors of cheesecake from the Cheesecake Factory.
If I tried to do a video like that, I’d be ridiculed for it as fat unhealthy girl obviously making things worse. Why is it okay for a skinny girl to do it? Why is it okay for anyone to do this? Have we already forgotten about the Paula Deen diabetes fiasco?
Knowing what I’m going through with my health now, and how I may be paying for my previous fast food binges as a young adult makes it all the worse. I’m scared for these ladies and what they are inspiring – but I’m even more scared at how many viewers are interested in it.
Is the world going to eat itself to death? Or are we allowing a select few to commit food suicide for our enjoyment?
Examples of Popular U.S. MukBangs
Here are a few honorable mentions for the most disgusting MukBangs in the U.S. – click the images to see the videos on YouTube – if you want to be grossed out, that is.
In N Out MukBang – 3.7 million views of a cute, skinny girl, three loaded burgers, fries, fries with cheese, animal fries, a Diet (???) Coke and a milk shake, from my favorite burger joint in the world. She manages to get it shoved down, with minimal talking and description, in just under 35 minutes. I personally can barely get down a burger and a full animal fries. This is too much.
Bonus Fact: She just had acupuncture this morning, so she obviously cares about how her body feels. How did she feel after this, I wonder.
Kudos: At least she didn’t finish the regular fries.
KFC MukBang: This gorgeous curvy girl was “inspired” by other YouTubers (of course) to pig out on KFC on her own channel, with over 400K views so far. What gets me is that lack of description of the food – she’s just chatting away about unrelated things while stuffing her mouth with some chicken, corn, mash, and a chocolate chip cookie.
Bonus Fact: I have no idea what she’s rambling on about.
Kudos: Although her inspiration is questionable, I give her mad props for actually NOT making a MukBang video. There is no attempt to prove anything with her eating – she looks like she’s just having a large lunch, and she doesn’t even finish it all.
Pizza Hut MukBang: This discovery scared me a bit. In addition to looking like a plastic doll, this skinny little thing puts down almost half a meat-heavy pizza, at least 4 bread sticks, one and a half cinnamon bread sticks, a 4th of a family-size chicken Alfredo, and several pieces of breaded and fried chicken poppers.
Bonus Fact: She mentions her Dominos MukBang which apparently is what blew up her channel – she’s a serial MukBanger.
Kudos: She did starve herself all day to prepare, did NOT eat the entire meal intended for 10 people, and mentions the need to go to the gym after – although I doubt she’ll have the energy.
Taco Bell Twins – It only has just over 15k views (that’s all), but she’s got over 400k subscribers to her channels. To be honest, I don’t know if you’d call this a real MukBang. She did buy 12 tacos – and then some – but she politely set them aside as probable leftovers for breakfast. I’m somehow doubting she ever at them, as the video is mostly talking between not-so-generous bites, but I’m kind of okay with that.
Bonus Fact: Prior to this, she actually didn’t know what a Chalupa was. I’m guessing her mom was a lot like mine and didn’t frequent Taco Bell.
Kudos: At least she brought her vegan sister in to help, so it wasn’t just her eating 5 bags worth of junk food.
Mom and Daughter MukBang: I felt like this deserved an extra-special (I’m so disgusted) mention, for the fact that a mom encourages her teen to scarf up a bunch of mediocre fast food and donuts with her. However, the actual video does not display that much eating – not a true MukBang, so perhaps her mom’s influence was felt behind-the-scenes.
Bonus Fact: This girl is so friggen cute and I love her channel.
Kudos: Props to mom if you didn’t let her eat everything.
The Better Side of the YouTube Food-Tasting Trend
Something I CAN get behind with regard to food, is the idea of trying new things you haven’t tried before.
Some of my favorite pleasure moments include new restaurant adventures with my mom, during which we try a multitude of interesting options from the menu. Usually, this involves some tasting, perhaps a bit of overeating, but also A LOT of leftovers. There is no attempt or need to FINISH IT ALL – a requirement for a “traditional” Mukbang.
One of my favorite YouTube (food tasting) shows is In The Kitchen with Kate.
I absolutely love her cooking and recipes, and her adorable British accent, but I really got hooked from the videos where she and this guy, Alex – who maybe is her brother, I’ve done no research on her other than binging her binges – eat and rate American candy and snacks, among other things.
They mostly only try each thing, and often split them or just do a taste when they’ve had too much. They don’t finish things they don’t like, and they generally don’t finish full packages of everything. They talk a lot about sharing things with other family members. So, while they are still pretty much binging on sugar, it feels a bit more restrained and is not an attempt to prove anything.
I don’t know what it is about watching this adorable lady eat 1000s of calories worth of candy, but I find it truly entertaining and more what childhood dreams might be made of (Sugar Plum Fairies, and all).
She’s very delicate and you can tell she’s taking care not to over do it, but there really isn’t a way to NOT overdo tasting 20 different snacks and candies all at once.
It’s particularly hilarious to watch because they pronounce things funny – chips are crisps, sucky candies are sweets or lollies – and their perspective is so unique from an American upbringing. I imagine people in the UK would love the show for the unique and weird snacks – that we find quite normal.
I love the show for the reactions to the stuff that’s every day for us – omg, watching them eat Cheetos is insanely awesome, it’s their favorite “chip.”
Sending a Box of Goodies to Kate
These particular videos, of Kate and her lovely man-friend tasting American snacks and candy, have become very popular in America, to the point where people here are sending them boxes of things to try.
I do hope they continue, because they could make a full ten seasons out of the weird processed foods Americans enjoy.
By Americans, I of course don’t include our friends to the North and South of the United States, although there’s another great stash of snacks that would be fun to watch someone eat – from maple candy to Bimbo.
Anyway, Kate and her stubbled sidekick continue to be surprised at the massive amount of different snacks and candies that our country produces. They’ve tasted what feels like at least a hundred different things, if I’m honest, and yet they’ve barely scratched the surface.
I always find it interesting how much the United States gets lumped together as one huge conglomerate (which is, I suppose, how we’ve always portrayed ourselves through nation’s pride), when our states are so huge and diverse in and of themselves, and we’ve got 50 of them so there’s a lot of different variety and culture.
I suppose the UK has a similar, although not so broad, situation with the varying cultures from Ireland to Glasgow (whatever that is), and Europe right next door. It’s a big world, after all.
I’d love to do a trip to all my favorite U.S. cities and find snacks for Kate and gentleman to try, but truth be told, traveling is a bit rough on me right now with my symptoms.
Just the same, I’m not going to say no to the inspiration, because I remember the passion I had for food journalism that drove me to go to culinary school, and I’m still waiting to see how that part of my journey is going to show itself in my life.
Anyway, I’ve found a local international market here in Las Vegas, and there are some interesting things here that I’d love to see Kate try – if she dares.
What would you want to watch a British person eat?
Should we start with every flavor of Haribo?
I know it’s not an American company, but I’m fairly certain there are only a few places where you can find every flavor from all around the world. They’re generally tailored to specific regions, right? I don’t know, I’m not a Haribo expert. But I want to see Kate try ALL of the above.
I don’t even know what Tango Apple is, but it’s obviously made in the USA so I’d be happy to see what Kate thinks.
I’m fairly certain the UK has Kinder, because it’s actually from Europe, but I wonder if they have Happy Hippo. I know the US has different versions of Kinder. I’d like to see Kate put a happy hippo in her mouth, but I may do some research on this because the word “biscuits” on this package has me thinking this cannot be an American trend.
Ooooh. Alex likes Cheetos so much, I wonder what he’d think of the corn version. Have you tried these before?
I’m going to be saving up for my trip to the International Marketplace and beyond to fill Kate’s box. I may even do a video of the send-off, if I’m feeling saucy that day.
If you’d like to contribute, please scroll all the way down to the bottom of my website for my donate button. Please make a note in your donation if it’s specifically for Kate’s box, so I don’t end up spending it on medical or cat food.
As soon as I get $100 set aside just for Kate’s box, I’ll make the trip to the store and share the send-off with you – minimally with photos. If I can get up to $200 donated just for Kate I’ll absolutely do a full video.
That’s only 200 people putting in $1 for some sponsored foodie entertainment. If you’ve every wanted to be a television producer, now is your chance. In fact, I’ll go ahead and do a video with credits to all my donors.
And if Kate takes the challenge and tastes our snacks, you won’t the first to know unless you subscribe to her channel, but I’ll share it with you here.
Comments Bring Luck
Whether you donate or not (because I will get the money one way or another), comment below what your favorite candy is that you would want to share with our friends in the UK.
And I’d love to know what you think about this MukBang trend.