By Anna Valdez
Web Content Contributor
Ever scroll through YouTube or Instagram and noticed videos of people eating a ton of food? Not only that, but they’re recording and emphasizing the sound of their chewing and other gross noises that occur while eating. You’re probably wondering, why would anyone find the sound of a person eating enjoyable? Food ASMR videos, much like soap cutting, sand cutting and other sound stimuli, aim to give the viewer a sense of well-being. People all around the world are joining in on the trend by posting videos of themselves eating or simply watching the videos. But what exactly is ASMR, and why is it something millions of people are raving about?
Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR) is a feeling of comfort combined with a tingling sensation in the scalp and down the back of the neck as experienced by some people in response to a certain stimulus, often a particular sound. ASMR first began as a way to help people experience the relaxing and pleasurable sensation within the brain and head by immersing them in different sounds, such as whispering voices, paper tearing and other noises. What triggers ASMR differs from person to person. Some of the most common triggers include whispering, tapping, chewing, slime squishing and crinkling. Fans of food ASMR, in this case, find it satisfying to hear the over exaggerated sounds a person makes while eating.
ASMR food videos became popular in America following a similar trend that circulated in South Korea. You may have heard of or seen a mukbang, a live online audiovisual broadcast in which the host eats a large amount of food while interacting with the audience. A mukbang begins with a person preparing or consuming a large quantity of food, such as a bowl of noodles or multiple orders of fast food. During the live-stream or video, the host will either have a conversation with the viewers or refrain from talking and instead make loud eating noises. Shawn Dawson and other YouTubers have done mukbangs on their channels because audiences everywhere seem to love watching people eat and talk on camera.
I decided to check out some food ASMR videos for myself and started watching random ones that popped up on my Instagram and YouTube to see if I found them enjoyable. I found one popular YouTuber by the name of SAS-ASMR (@sasittube on Instagram), who has over 5.3 million subscribers on YouTube and 1.2 million followers on Instagram– so you know there is a demand and an audience for this type of content.
While watching some of SAS-ASMR’s videos, I did not experience any tingling sensation on my scalp or down my back, but I did feel relaxed from watching and listening to the sounds she made while biting and chewing her food (weird, I know!). In other videos, I noticed some people would devour their food while others were attentive in their food consumption. Whatever your preference, there is sure to be a video out there for your viewing pleasure.
While this all sounds strange, I have to admit that I enjoyed watching and listening to some of these food ASMR videos, particular the ones where people were eating honeycomb, candied fruit and fast food. Whether you can’t stand the sound of people eating or are all about this fascinating new trend, it is no surprise that food ASMR has found its rightful home in social media culture.
Featured image by Anna Lizette Valdez.