It’s lunch time. You raise your head from work and realise that you’ll be eating alone again. No problem. Instead of making the awkward move inviting a colleague to share a table, many mealtime soloists are turning to Mukbang.
In Korean, “muk” means “eat” while “bang” means “show”, which translates to “Eating shows”. Mukbang originated from Korea in 2010. It started off as an initiative by individuals who wanted to broadcast ‘live’ their dining experience to others who were dining alone. However, Mukbang has become quite a lucrative business where Mukbang hosts earn up to thousands every month via virtual tokens (online appreciation, such as ‘likes’, that can be monetized) sent in by viewers. The quality and quantity of food varies across Mukbang hosts. During the broadcast, viewers can interact with the host and other viewers via an online chat — the perfect platform for making virtual friends.
Some of the more popular Mukbang hosts are as follows:
Japanese Mukbang: Yuka Kinoshita
Yuka is a youthful female Mukbang host. She uploads recorded Mukbang videos daily around 5pm Singapore time (2 a.m. PST) and ‘live’ on Sunday. Her consistent updates displays her sincerity in connecting with and providing a regular dining experience for her followers. Moreover, she eats incredibly large portions of food, which intrigues her loyal following. Most of her food is home cooked but occasionally, she challenges fast food like McDonald’s and KFC, introducing her viewers to the latest products they have to offer in Japan. As much as Yuka favours eggs, she does noodle-related Mukbang frequently, which I particularly enjoy watching. It amazes me how she slurps down her noodles without having to bite the strands apart. Also, she incorporates humour and vivid description of the food during the Mukbang which appears as if you are literally eating with her.
My rating: 5.5/6 stars
Korean Mukbang: Banzz
Similar to Yuka, Banzz makes a spectacle of ingesting huge portions of food. Most of his food choices are packed from from convenience stalls in Korea, and dessert confections. Ramen, though, he will cook for himself. Despite his, um,,, diet, Banzz maintains attractive features, including a perfectly ideal physique with rippling biceps and a chiseled six pack. He has everything that males sweat for at the gym. Banzz started his Mukbang shows at home, with videos not being subbed regularly. However, as he ventured out to try different cuisine overseas, he met sponsors and now, his videos are subbed! Banzz’s Mukbang shows have excellent visual presentation and they can make the simplest-looking common food in Korea, rice cakes, appealing, and me salivate!
My rating: 5/6 stars
Australian Mukbang: Food Tales
Food Tales is a Mukbang channel managed by sisters, Trinity and Bo. It is rare to see sisters conducting a Mukbang! The two take digs at each other in almost every video. I like this channel as the sisters are humourous and real. Unlike Yuka and Banzz, the food featured in their Mukbang is of smaller portions and not really “exotic”. Nuggets, salads, ramen, and commercial snacks are on their plate. Although the pace of their Mukbang is a little slow, their videos are natural and relatable.
My rating: 4/6 stars
In an interview with CNBC, food blogger, Simon Stawski, from Simon and Martina YouTube channel claims that Mukbang can sometimes go overboard with exaggerated enthusiasm as it is “difficult to be entertaining and interesting while scarfing down food”. I, too, have my reservations towards distracted eating habits. Besides, watching Mukbang before meals makes me want to consume more than I should. Still, producing and viewing Mukbang is a personal choice, and I watch Mukbang only after eating. In any case, what makes eating fun is the person you’re eating with. So, whether you dine with a virtual Mukabang companion or with a friend, what is most important is that you enjoy both the food and the dining process together.
BTW, Steven Yuen (Glenn of ‘The Walking Dead’) has made a four-part parody of the Mukbang trend entitled, What’s Eating Steven Yuen featuring insights into the industry it has become [Ed. just thought I’d mention it].