How ASMR and Mukbangs Became a YouTube Sensation
Updated: Sep 21
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard of the terms “ASMR” and “mukbang” thrown around the internet, more specifically on YouTube. Mukbang and ASMR videos have completely taken over social media the past few years, so much that being an ASMRtist (ASMR + artist) or a mukbanger on YouTube can be a full-time job nowadays. So, how did this all start and how on earth did these two “hobbies” become such a phenomenon? Let's get into it.
Before attempting to break down ASMR, it must be reiterated that the science behind this is basically nonexistent and it should be taken with an open mind. ASMR is the term for the sensations you get while watching stimulating videos that produce crisp and clear sounds. ASMR stands for autonomous sensory meridian response and these sensations differ from person to person. The term started with a group of insomniacs who fell asleep to sounds of people whispering. The whispers would send deep "tingles" down their spine or throughout their body, producing a relaxing feeling. The ASMR community calls these responses “triggers” and they are ultimately defined as a specific activity that gives you the most “tingles”. These can vary from whispers, tapping on objects, tracing letters on paper, to even brushing hair.
If you block out the weird and potentially sexual side of ASMR, it becomes easier to understand. Cardi B has publicly stated that she needs an ASMR video playing for her to fall asleep, and ever since we discovered ASMR, all we can say is SAME. After years of taking melatonin and getting prescribed sleeping meds, we never would have guessed the solution to insomnia would be listening to whispering. These professional ASMRtists use audio equipment worth thousands of dollars just to pick up the sound of your breathing, but they can afford it with their more than substantial paychecks.
Because so many people have different triggers, ASMRtists have many opportunities to succeed in their craft. ASMR Bakery on YouTube specifically dedicates her videos to object triggers and not talking, while ASMR PPOMO focuses on other triggers, like massages and haircuts. Before questioning these beautiful souls for what they do for a living, we must add that they reel in 6 figures or more in revenue each year...from whispering on camera.
On the topic of getting paid hefty cash, mukbang videos are truly the dream for all of us - getting paid to eat! The term "mukbang" is Korean slang for "food broadcasting" and it became popular in South Korea for some time before finding fame in America and the rest of the world. If you were on the internet in the early 2000s, there was a picture floating around with the caption stating that a Korean woman got paid $100,000 to eat on camera. After that went viral, nobody really ever heard about mukbangs ever again…until 2016. With the increasing popularity of ASMR, mukbang videos surfaced on YouTube as another interesting hobby.
As I mentioned before, people have different triggers for their ASMR fix and eating sounds happen to be one of them. American YouTubers saw this opportunity to combine the two hot topics and started eating in mukbang-style videos to produce ASMR sounds. Others, however, took mukbangs to a completely different playing field. Stephanie Soo is a mukbanger who currently holds an impressive 2 million subscribers on YouTube for her interesting incorporation of telling true crime stories while she eats. If you had asked us 5 years ago if we could see ourselves watching a girl eat while doing makeup, we would have laughed in your face. But here we are, watching a girl eat while putting on makeup. While we have specifically only watched one creator for her story-telling abilities, many of our friends watch mukbangs where the person shares snippets of their life and rambles about current events. It truly just feels like listening to a friend talk while doing other things of your own.
While entertainment is a key part of mukbang videos, let’s not ignore the culture that it has brought to the table! Cuisines from all over the globe are tested by these content creators and we have learned so much about food since watching them. We are also 100% sure that the sales of grape jellies in Japan skyrocketed after being eaten by every mukbanger earlier last year. The Internet has truly opened so many doors for people to explore their creativity in crafts they never knew about. Even if you still find yourself feeling grossed out and confused with ASMR and mukbangers, you cannot deny their creativity and those money signs that come from it.
With a quick search for ASMR on YouTube, you will quickly be overwhelmed by the options. The most important thing to remember is to keep an open mind, and you must listen with headphones to get your first “tingle!"
To top this all off, if you identify as someone who can never decide where to eat, say no more. Watch one mukbang video every day and you will have your heart set on that meal until you get it. Thank us later. ;)
Tag us in your food pics and share your favorite ASMRtists with us on Instagram at @thisisuproar.