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Professional Food Eating –Mukbang

3 cheeseburgers, a big bag of fries, a can of soft drink, and some cheesy hash browns - A person silently devours this delectable and copious meal on camera and earns 10,000 USD every month.

Yes, the rise of the internet has brought in the advent of several new professions. But how does the idea of getting a stuffed wallet for stuffing yourself sound?

Mukbang is a portmanteau word that joins together two South Korean words – “muk da” which means eat and “bang song” which means broadcast. This South Korean trend started quite sometime back during the beginning of the previous decade. However, of late, this trend has gained extensive traction and with more and more people looking to make quick money using the internet, has spread like wildfire all across the globe.

What is Mukbang?

It’s simple – A video of a person eating, and most often, it is a ginormous quantity of food. However, it is not a food eating contest where contestants eats 80 packets of ramen. Nor is it a speed-eating session where the person shoves in 70 hamburgers in 5 minutes. It is just a person on live camera, doing something we all need to do to sustain – eating. Sometimes there is just no communication; it’s just a dialogue-less video of an individual chewing away.

It might sound crazy; after all how can something as vapid as eating garner close to 10M followers in some cases and pay so much?

The reason behind the Mukbang frenzy is a combination of sensory, psychological, social, emotional, environmental -- even neurological factors.

Most of the Mukbang videos come with autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR) effects. ASMR, in simple terms, is the sensation that is invoked in people when they watch stimulating videos. Mukbang videos with their ASMR effects can induce a tingling sensation that excites the sensory system through sounds and visuals of people biting, chewing, and slurping different types of foods. If the sight or sound of people eating is something that sends a pleasurable tingling sensation down your spine, then you’ve probably experienced ASMR eating. ASMR eating appeals to people in an oddly satisfying way. The sight of watching someone devour delicious food is alluring and addictive and this is one of the major reasons why Mukbang videos gobble up so many views.

Also, another factor behind the rise in the popularity of Mukbang is the loneliness of individuals in this digital age. Being social animals, human beings usually enjoy sharing their meal time with friends/family. But with the looming number of individuals living alone, these videos offer companionship to those eating alone in their rooms. Further, the onset of the pandemic only aggravated the situation of loneliness. When traditional person-to-person activities are out of the way, people shift to the digital space seeking company and Mukbang videos provide the perfect arena for that. Mukbang has also helped develop a constructive virtual social community.

For some people, it isn’t about loneliness but about seeking joy in the happiness of others. Watching videos of people munching away delectable food instigates a sense of contentment. People satisfy their own cravings by living vicariously through others. This is especially true with people on strict dietary restrictions.

The Market Value of Mukbang

Once Mukbangers get popular and gain significant followers, they earn close to $100,000 a year in the United States from endorsements, e-books, and product reviews.

Where there are followers, there are paid partnerships. Dominos Pizza, Nando’s, and several other big brands partner up with professional eaters to promote their brands. Watching these ‘eaters’ devour down pizzas and provide approval with their “mmms” with close-up shots of cheese drooling out sure is one of the best advertisements food brands could get.

The Other Side of Mukbang

While Mukbanging can be a propellant for one’s financial health, not the same can be said about one’s physical health.

Dieticians say that there is no such thing as ‘healthy Mukbang’; the effects of eating a copious amount of food every day are bound to show themselves out in due time. While Mukbanging as a hobby is still fine, most Mukbangers do their act daily, which could lead to health complications over time, paving the way to obesity. However, a lot also depends on what Mukbangers do outside their filming hours. Regular exercise and workouts could help offset the effects of regular Mukbanging.

If you haven’t had a chance to watch Mukbanging videos yet, here are some links for starters!

Let us know your thoughts on Mukbanging in the comments!


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