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American Mukbang: White Ladies and Food Stunts on Social Media

By Jen Maravegias | Social Media | May 30, 2021 |

By Jen Maravegias | Social Media | May 30, 2021 |


Mukbang refers to the Korean YouTube trend of watching strangers eat large quantities of food. It translates to “Food Broadcast” or “Food Show” and generally features good looking people eating a LOT. Like, a lot a lot.

These videos sometimes involve ASMR (Auto Sensory Meridian Response.) That’s the calming, pleasurable feeling and tingling sensation some folks get when listening to specific sounds. And they may also dip their toes into fetishism.

Of course, here in America, we like to take whatever they’re doing abroad and make it our own, for better or for worse. Welcome to the world of prank cooking hack videos. If you’ve so far managed to avoid these culinary travesties on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, Facebook and basically everywhere else videos are served, congratulations. Primarily, we’re talking about short videos of women demonstrating questionable recipes under conditions of questionable sanitation, like this one.

Sometimes the recipes are oversized, like the above video posted on the Josh and Lisa Facebook channel. Sometimes they’re recipes that include an out of place ingredient as in this recipe that pairs ground beef, spaghetti and nerds candy.


This is how you make Getti Spaghetti 🍝 #hamburgermeat #spaghetti #pasta #groundbeef #wrapped #ghetti #gettispaghetti #nerdscandy

♬ original sound - Getti

I refuse to believe she enjoyed eating that, let alone served it to anyone. While the Getti Show TikTok is not labeled as a prank account, if you look through her videos there’s a lot of pranking going on in there. That Josh and Lisa Channel? The warning labels on everything practically scream at you. So, really, we’re not meant to believe this food will be eaten. It’s supposed to be funny and fun. But for whom? When a prank is perpetrated there’s a pranker and a prankee, and the audience. If we were meant to be the audience for these pranks, who is on the receiving end? That’s us too. We are both audience and prankee for these videos. Ha ha, isn’t it funny that someone wasted 10 lbs of food? OMG you have to watch this super gross video! Would you eat this? And the content creators are laughing themselves all the way to the bank on our clicks, likes and shares.

When you watch Korean Mukbang videos there is a certain art to them. The food, however much of it there is, has been prepared (or purchased) to be eaten and enjoyed. And while there may be a sense of astonishment at watching that amount of food being consumed there’s also a sense of appreciation. An actual recipe was followed, the food is cooked to perfection, and is arranged on the table in a pleasing way. There is beauty there. These American videos are not about celebrating any sense of beauty, they’re about celebrating grotesqueness and our attraction to it. They’re about excess and how everything here is disposable. Especially if you’re one of these upper middle class white ladies with free time and a kitchen island with a marble countertop.