As states begin to reopen from COVID-19 quarantine, whether prematurely or as part of a re-phasing plan, one thing’s for certain: Our relationship with food and dining has changed. But for many who have missed the familiarities of deliciously prepared food and eating in excess, mukbang videos and personalities on YouTube have provided a source of comfort and entertainment during times of uncertainty and anxiety. They’re also oddly relaxing for those who enjoy ASMR-esque eating noises. (Misophonia sufferers need not partake.)
Mukbang, an amalgamation of two Korean words (muk-ja for “eating” and bang-song for “broadcast”) translates to “eating broadcast” and showcases participants as they binge on culinary delicacies, traditionally of Asian influence. From gigantic bowls of spicy noodles to rows of salmon sushi, mukbangers have tackled it all, perhaps no more famously than hyuneeEats, one of the most recognized and adored faces in this space.
We caught up with Hyunee to break down her experience with the popular medium, including some highs, lows, and how she prepares her stomach for carbs en masse—coupled with extreme heat. Check out her thoughts below. (And for fans, or self-proclaimed “Hyunee Bees,” be sure to browse her adorable merchandise here!)
What is it about mukbang that people find so appealing?
hyuneeEats: Mukbang is so appealing to many, not just because of the delicious looking food, but because of the personalities and stories behind each mukbanger. Every mukbanger has their own way of eating and telling their stories, and mine is the way I take big hyunee bites of hot and spicy noodles.
Have you seen mukbang’s popularity rise during times of quarantine?
HE: I expected a rise in mukbang’s popularity during times of quarantine, but the numbers stayed pretty stagnant. I think it’s because people can’t dine in and are afraid to get takeout food because of coronavirus. I try getting food from small businesses and filming to help them during this pandemic, but have gotten comments like, “Why are you getting takeout food? Aren’t you scared of coronavirus?” and “You should make food at home because you don’t know who’s making those foods.” Sometimes, it is hard to resist the temptation of wanting to eat the food mukbangers are eating, so I think some people are choosing not to watch certain mukbangs.
How do you prepare your stomach to eat so much food (and spicy food, in particular!) in such a short period of time?
HE: I’ve been doing intermittent fasting for about four to five years now, so my stomach is always prepared to eat a copious amount of food to fill the calorie count for the day. I like to eat a couple eggs and drink some milk before I film spicy food to tell my stomach to get ready for the spice!
What are some of your favorite foods to eat on camera? Are there any mukbang trends that are popping up?
HE: My favorite foods to eat on camera are sushi, any type of spicy food, and, of course, noodles, especially spicy ones for the spice queen. Some mukbang trends I see that are popping up are mukbang ASMR-types of videos (reality mukbang) where they film themselves eating while watching a TV show. These types of videos are more intimate and feel as if you are eating next to them without judgment.
Have you ever done a mukbang that went awry? Is there something you’ll never eat again?
HE: I haven’t really experienced any mukbangs that went awry, but I’ve had instances where the food was just too much [to eat] in one sitting. An example of that would be a whole filet of salmon. I would never eat a whole filet of salmon in one sitting again. But other than that, I haven’t had any awful mukbang experiences.