Josaphine moved to Chennai a few months ago from Philippines and she runs a YouTube channel known as Pinay in India. Her Mukbang videos are growing in popularity because one of her specialties is eating South Indian food. She says, “When I first moved here, I couldn’t stand the smell of Indian food but the latest challenge that I uploaded a week ago was of my friend and I eating utthapams.” They each finished five-six utthapams that had different toppings, along with chutneys and sambar. “I’m yet to get used to the spice so I order something to drink every time I upload Mukbang videos. The other day, I got a milkshake and was impressed to see that I wasn’t given a straw — it’s great that the state is becoming plastic-free,” she adds.
Full-time food blogger Mahalakshmi Anand, a resident of Kilpauk, runs a Facebook page called Maachi’s Gourmet Adventures. She adds her own spin to Mukbang by modifying the challenge. “I visit different restaurants and post reviews in the form of Mukbang on my YouTube channel and social media pages. This way, I get to interact with my viewers through live video and they get a virtual dining experience,” she shares. She tastes sample portions of all the dishes based on which she reviews them.
According to Rohini Shankar, a food psychologist, there is both the good and downside of Mukbang. “Loneliness is a huge factor that makes viewers addicted to these videos — if they don’t have someone to share a meal with, they watch Mukbang videos while eating so they don’t feel alone. Some even find the sound of slurping, chewing and drinking therapeutic,” she explains.
There is a growing tribe of fans for Mukbang challenge videos. Camille Allauzen, a city resident said she doesn’t create these videos but enjoys watching them.
.“One of my favourite mukbang bloggers is Yang Soobin. I love this girl. Whatever she eats, she puts her hand, mouth and soul into it. It is just mesmerising and an absolute pleasure to watch these vlogs,” said Camille, who is part of the Overseas Women’s Club, Chennai. “Some of these vloggers made around $9,000 a month just by uploading videos of them eating. I’m wondering if I should take it up as a career, too,” she smiled.
Food psychologist Rohini Shankar said that eating large quantities of food can have disastrous effects on the body though it could be emotionally satisfying. “Some vloggers upload videos twice a week, so imagine if they take on challenges such as eating 2,000 chips and two litres of soda or three large pizzas in a single sitting. In fact, one of the most popular mukbang bloggers in India is Viwa Food World run by brothers Vishwa and Akash Joshi. They were able to finish nearly 300 pani puris within 10 minutes,” she cautioned.
Last year, the South Korean government announced that it would create National Obesity Management Comprehensive Measures. It was to establish guidelines for mukbang because it causes binge eating and can harm public health.