Are you one of the 18 million people who listened to YouTuber SAS-ASMR masticate on raw honeycomb for eight minutes? Or maybe you're one of the 10 million fans who sat through the broadcast of Hong Sound slurping down a family-size tub full of hot noodles?
The number of people who enjoy the satisfying and comforting sounds created by YouTube users has risen dramatically, and its ongoing popularity indicates that it’s not just the people who can’t fall asleep that are listening.
ASMR stands for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, and its associated videos that create a satisfying, euphoric experience for viewers. ASMR videos were originally created to allow people to experience a pleasurable tingling sensation in the brain, and the feeling of closeness to another person from being immersed in certain sounds.
The sound of chewing in particular is a well-known ASMR trigger and it is drawing millions of clicks on YouTube ASMR food videos.
In case you missed it, big brands have been on it too - KFC did this ASMR video in 2017.
Food ASMR initially came to our attention from the South Korean mukbang craze, where people started broadcasting themselves chomping through absurd quantities of food in front of the camera, alone. Some of these mukbang broadcasters have even become stars in their own right, and many are known to make a good living by eating alone online.
Apart from mukbang, recipe videos have also been getting the ASMR treatment, as those tired of loud and overly enthusiastic food presenters are turning to the stripped down, minimalistic recipes of the ASMR kind. These videos, with or without a voiceover, focus on the soothing sounds of common items such as the splash of milk in a glass, the splattering of a cake mix, or the crack of an egg shell against a bowl.
Is food ASMR to cure loneliness (which according to The Guardian seems to be a worrying aspect of mukbang)? Or is it vicarious eating in an increasingly health-obsessed society? Maybe people are just in it for the tingles. Whatever the motive is, it’s hard to disagree that the crushing sound of meringues under a knife can be rather soothing.
Food ASMR video favourites: from mukbang top hits to chopping chocolate