The Rise of Mukbang and Food Content on YouTube

By Editorial Staff

If you see a steaming bowl of ramen noodles with fire sauce paired with a fried egg to top it off, you’ve stumbled onto a mukbang and food content video. Creators such as Trisha Paytas, Zach Choi, and Stephanie Soo are among the largest creators on the platform whose videos surround food, in copious amounts. The aesthetic of the large quantity is also the point of attraction, but the menu itself may take a backseat. The rise of mukbang and food content has found its place on YouTube, but these types of videos began in South Korea.

According to Qustudios, “Mukbang comes from the Korean word 먹방, (meokbang), which combines the Korean words for “eating” (먹는 meongneun) and “broadcast” (방송 bangsong). In simple English terms, you could define the word as an ‘eatcast’.” 

Mukbangs began in South Korea where people would consume large quantities of food every day at the same time and stream the video for viewers to watch while eating their lunch or dinner. This trend soon became popular on YouTube when more mainstream western YouTubers began to film similar videos.

Trisha Paytas: YouTube’s Self-Proclaimed Mukbang Queen

Trisha Paytas is one of the most controversial figures on the platform but also one of the largest mukbang and food content creators. She has gotten involved with drama time and time again, but she’s found an affinity with one of the least drama-filled niches on the platform. One of her first Mukbang videos dates back to YouTube in 2015, “MUKBANG (Eating Show)”, which got over 2.4 million views. In the video, Trisha Paytas simply ate cupcakes, a breakfast of scrambled eggs and toast, and snack foods on camera. This traction stirred Trisha Paytas to continue to post more food-related content.

Later that same year, Paytas posted a “MUKBANG (Eating Show) – Italian Food” where she encouraged viewers to join her for dinner as she feasted on an Italian takeout and talked about her day. The simplicity of her videos speaks to the connection she has built with her fan base and the normalcy that food establishes.

One of Paytas’s most viewed eating videos is “Pizza Hut MUKBANG (Eating Show) | WATCH ME EAT” with over 7.8 million views where she indulges in an entire platter of Pizza Hut food. The unique aspect of Trisha’s videos is the length and style of her content. She usually posts the video in its entirety without any cuts or edits, making her posts longer than the average video duration of 2015.

Since her videos have gained popularity across the platform, she’s inspired similar content in her YouTube peers. Colleen Ballinger has collaborated with Trisha Paytas, filming a few mukbang and food content videos as well. In 2018, Colleen Ballienger filmed, “MY INTENSE BIRTH STORY! – Mukbang w/ Trisha Paytas”. The video garnered over 7.7 million views, and the two discussed Colleen’s recent birthing experience. Both of these creators have been on YouTube since the beginning and the relatively new trend of mukbang demonstrates the ways through which a combination of food and a solid fan base can produce longevity in a YouTuber’s career.

Keep up with the rapidly changing trend landscape of social media with our weekly trend reports.

Zach Choi: Silence is Golden

Zach Choi is one of the biggest Mukbang content creators on YouTube and TikTok. Zach Choi began his YouTube channel with an ASMR video of him eating french fries. He received over 2.9 million views within just a couple of months of posting the video and continues to receive millions of views on his videos today.

Since then, Choi has gained over 15 million subscribers on YouTube and 6.3 million followers on TikTok with nearly 90 million likes. One of his most viewed videos to date is with fellow Mukbang and food content creator, YouTuber Stephanie Soo. Their collaboration gained over 83 million views and is one of the most viewed Mukbang videos on the platform.

Zach Choi is infamous for not speaking in his videos and making the satisfying crunch and cooking noises of his content shine through. In fact, Zach Choi has never spoken in any of his content, and a running joke within his fan base is his voice reveal. He simply eats and cooks food on the internet, gaining millions of views while still remaining an enigma in his mukbang and food content.

One of the largest brand deals Choi has received was with Amazon Prime, demonstrating the bridge with influencers and large media enterprises. Zach Choi’s videos are well-produced and meticulously thought out, with every shot of food coinciding with the satisfying cooking sounds to enhance the video experience. 

Check out these highly successful brand collaborations for inspiration on your next influencer campaign.

Stepahnie Soo: Food & Murder Mysteries

Stephanie Soo began her YouTube journey with mukbang, but now she has evolved into a murder mystery channel coupled with the aesthetic of food. Stephanie Soo has over 2.7 million subscribers, and she posts daily on her channel, garnering a total of 600,000 million views on average.

Her mukbang and food content is unlike typical videos from the community. Stephanie Soo’s videos begin with the food at the forefront of the video, and then she dives into storytelling. Her storytelling intrigues her audience so much so that she started a podcast on Spotify surrounding her interest in true crime and murder mysteries.

Bringing back Zach Choi, Soo’s most viewed video is a collaboration featuring him called, “5 PACKS OF 4X NUCLEAR NOODLE CHALLENGE ft. ZACH CHOI ASMR MUKBANG 먹방 | Eating Show” which received over 15 million views.

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Mukbang Drama: Nikocado Avocado

Even in the mukbang community which consisted simply of eating and cooking, drama can still arise. One of the most controversial figures in the mukbang and food content community of YouTube is Nikocado Avocado. He began his YouTube journey as a vegan, and now he is anything but. He has a total of 4 channels with a combined total of 6.3 million subscribers.

One of the first large controversies he became involved with was with Stephanie Soo. In the video entitled, “Why I Am Scared Of Nikocado Avocado” which eventually gained over 14 million views, Stephanie Soo details her fear of Nikocado Avocado and his mistreatment of her. This kicked off a string of counter videos and controversy surrounding the community.

Eventually, his credibility began to dwindle and now there is extreme worry and concern surrounding his videos beyond just the mukbang and food content. There is backlash from viewers who are concerned with his health, but also with the direction of his content that exploits his relationship with his partner for controversy and clickbait.

There are video compilations made of Nikocado and his partner, Orlin, fighting and arguing on camera, sometimes violently. A compilation made by viewers, “Nikocado Avocado and Orlin screaming and hitting each other for 11 minutes straight. ✨” garnered over 5 million views. Most of the comments from the video speak to the entertaining nature of the toxic and unhealthy relationship between them, and this has fueled Nikocado’s videos since. He continues to title videos, convincing fans of the end of his relationship, only to post another video with Orlin in the future. However, Nikocado is not stopping any time soon, despite the controversies.

Mukbangs have definitely made their mark on YouTube, and they are now a key part of the YouTube community. The novelty of food content and the simplicity of watching someone enjoy food on camera may be jarring or, to some, perhaps even unappealing. However, the numbers speak for themselves, and audiences have found an affinity with these creators and their content.


This article was written by Victoria Huynh

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