There a lot of things in life that makes us feel awkward and uncomfortable. One of those things is being watched while we eat, or watching someone else as they eat.
Why would we want to inspect someone spooning eggs into their mouth? Is it really necessary to see someone trying to eat a sandwich at is falls apart?
The simple answer is no.
The more complicated answer is, yes, when it's a viral trend that ends up being quite lucrative.
A new viral trend called mukbang is sweeping the nation...all the nations. The point is to broadcast yourself cooking, prepping, and chowing down on massive amounts of food while simultaneously chatting with your online followers.
For people participating, being watched as they eat has actually become their business.
It's definitely an interesting and yummy career!
Mukbang is a combination of the Korean words for "eating" and "broadcast," which is unsurprising since the trend first emerged in South Korea in 2014. It was created by Canadian blogger Simon Stawski, who was living in South Korea during the time of the trend's inception.
It was only a year later that mukbang went from being a one person operation to a viral trend.
The stars of this trend are known as broadcast jockeys (often referred to as BJs), and the most successful of them are making a killing (up to $7,500 a month according to some reports).
This money comes from the advertisements that play alongside their videos, donations from subscribers, and sponsorship from the food companies whose meals the BJs are enjoying.
The food itself is almost exclusive junk food. Think the meals Morgan Spurlock ate in Super Size Me. The other type of food commonly used is food that induce an instant reaction, like extremely spicy dishes.
The most shocking thing is that these BJs are eating enough to feed a family of four for a week.
Check out one of the videos for yourself, created by Korean mukbang star Dorothy:
Spicy Noodle Mukbang [Dorothy] www.youtube.com
As with any trend, a culture has grown around it, called 'eating internet' culture. The videos are also tapping into some of the same soothing vibes as ASMR (autonomous sensory meridian response) videos.
Some people consider this trend a kind of fetish (and of course it is one). Others are concerned about the health implications for mukbang BJs. Isn't that what Spurlock was doing in Super Size Me? Trying to prove that eating exclusively junk food (or in his case, fast food) can easily cause obesity and other health problems?
However, many think these videos are helpful. The videos provide a public service and social outlet.
Some people find them relaxing or calming to watch (again, like the ASMR videos - maybe people should just stick to those) while other use them to alleviate loneliness. In a way, the videos offer someone to eat with, even though they're only accessible through a screen. Many of us are staring at screens all day anyway.
And you can't argue the trend isn't popular. Korean mukbang star Dorothy for instance, garners more than 350,000 views for each of her videos, while one of her eating spicy noodles has had a whopping 16 million views. Other countries have been following suit too, with American and Australian mukbang YouTubers cropping up.
Even though it's strange, the trend is definitely popular. For example, Dorothy, the star of the video above, has gained more than 350,000 views of each of her videos. One of her videos, in which she eats spicy noodles, has garnered a whopping 16 million views!
Australian girl tries KFC mukbang Screenshot/PA
It's only a matter of time before mukbang starts to emerge in other countries. Imagine British mukbang stars scarfind down trays of scones, gallons of tea, and buckets of jam and cream.
And of course American mukbang BJs will be wolfing down slices of pizza, burgers upon burgers, all the coffee they can get their hands on, and mountains of chicken wings.
Who wouldn't want to watch that?!