Why is Mukbang famous

Inside ‘mukbang’: How some professional binge eaters make thousands

For years, people have been on YouTube spending more than 60 minutes at a time while strangers consume 4,000 or more calories in one session. Not only that, many of these viewers are paying to indulge in this binge viewing, binge eating privilege. Today this viral trend is only growing in the US.

It's called Mukbang (pronounced “Mook-Bong”), and it means “Food Show” in South Korea, where professional mukbangers can make up to $ 9,000 a month.

Simon Stawski, a Canadian blogger who co-founded Eat Your Kimchi, moved to South Korea in 2008. Mukbanging didn't get on his radar until 2014, but it wasn't until 2015 that it became a phenomenon that crosses continents.

“It is not common in Korea for people to eat alone,” Stawski told TODAY Food. “Eating is a social activity and you don't sit and eat alone. For those unable to eat with others, they will more than likely stay home to eat alone, but they still have the urge to socialize while eating which I think the mukbangers are replicating. "

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A big part of the mukbanging experience is the potential ASMR component. ASMR stands for “Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response,” and people who experience this phenomenon claim that they take great pleasure in seeing or hearing everyday habits such as whispering, brushing hair, folding clothes, and more. ASMR artists, such as the American YouTuber Trisha Paytas, often appear in videos with food and sound like slurping, chewing, crunching and many other noises that arise while eating give many followers the "tingle". For Mukbang fans like Sammy Bosch who admits she initially thought watching and listening to other people was strange, it's almost hypnotic.

“I prefer the seafood, crab and ramen videos,” Bosch told TODAY Food, who said the videos help her hunger and relieve her stress. “As you watch others eat rich food, you may fantasize that you are eating it. For me, I associate eating with pleasure. When I watch these videos I feel happy. "

It's people like Bosch (and celebrities like Lisa Rinna's model daughters who admitted seeing Mukbang in "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills") who keep mukbangers like Christi Caston in business. A native Texan, Caston is the host of YummyBitesTV, an “ASMR / mukbang” YouTube channel where she claims she made twice what she made on a 9-to-5 computer. "I mukbang every day," says Caston, "and I comfortably eat from it."

Mukbangers can pour anything from dozens of ramen bowls, KFC buckets, multiple pizzas, piles of crab legs, candy containers to parcels of lettuce.

But how much do these YouTubers really make?

"It really depends on how you use your platform," says Soo Tang, whose MommyTang YouTube channel has over 425,000 subscribers. Tang, like all top YouTubers with monetized videos, has a share of advertising revenue generated through views. “I'm based in the US so the payout is different from the Mukbangers in Korea.

“However, once you become popular, you can make nearly $ 100,000 a year here in the US. There are many endorsements, e-books and product reviews. "

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Another popular American mukbanger, Erik Lamkin, aka Erik the Electric, says the bulk of his revenue comes from YouTube ads and sponsorships. (Though he says he was never compensated by Krispy Kreme or In-N-Out Burger, both of which feature frequently in his videos.) In South Korea, mukbangers can also take digital donations from viewers, with direct money transfers from fans.

Lamkin, whose YouTube video “The All American‘ Mukbang '”has seen 528,000 times, says it's hard to say how much money he's made in the two years since he first mukbang. But he can quantify how it has grown its social entourage. "I've gained around 258,000 subscribers on my YouTube channel and nearly 30,000 followers on Instagram," says the 24-year-old, who lives in California and counts biking and powerlifting for his 180-pound weight.

What's the craziest thing he's ever eaten? "The cheekiest thing I ever ate in one sitting was a 12 pound burger now called the 'Lamkinator' that I named after graduating from a restaurant here in San Diego," Lamkin told TODAY Food via E-mail. He says his overseas viewers would love to eat typical American fast food products like french fries, chicken nuggets and burgers.

But Lamkin added that when he isn't binge-eating publicly, he is on a very healthy diet.

Despite the sensory stimuli of the videos of Mukbangern, doctors and nutritionists warn that this viral trend can be dangerous for both types of consumers.

"Although some viewers report watching these videos to feed their own food cravings so they can stay on track with their weight loss plans, the nature of the mukbang videos can trigger disordered eating habits in susceptible viewers." Erin Palinski-Wade, RD, said food TODAY. And for the mukbingers themselves, there are plenty of risks, including causing a heart attack and developing insulin resistance.

Still, if the allure of getting a few more followers, and maybe a few more dollars, has tried to eat a whole pizza, then wash it all in front of an audience with a giant bottle of Diet Pepsi, Lamkin has a little bit of advice: " Prepare for people to criticize your eating habits. "