One of the (arguably) stranger things to come out of internet culture is the humble Mukbang. Originally starting in South Korea, the word literally means ‘broadcast eating’, which is exactly what it says on the tin – videos of people eating. Emerging as a popular broadcast in 2010, the concept has spiralled to become one of the biggest ‘trends’ on YouTube: with careers launched, hundreds of millions of views, and viral food trends stemming from the big Mukbang channels’ subject matter.
Internet celebrities like Bloveslife, NikocadoAvocado and Stephanie Soo have all risen to fame through their Mukbang videos, which see them try to one-up each other in how much they eat, and how unusual each dish can get. From 15lb lobsters to sea grapes and candy, Mukbangs gathered momentum on YouTube, reaching peak popularity in around 2019. Transforming from what started as a way for solo eaters in South Korea to connect with family over mealtimes to a fully-fledged industry based on excess, it’s no wonder that the trend has quietened down since then.
With the arrival of TikTok, Gen Z (and the world’s) newest favoured video platform, people were in search of an antidote to the Mukbangs that had been dominating YouTube over the 2010s. In efforts to displace the drama, excess and overconsumption of fast food that Mukbang creators had embroiled themselves within, a new type of food video has been rising in the ranks: the fruit cutting video.
This shift is largely down to Kirsten and Erika Titus: sisters from Hawai’i who document their lives on TikTok with daily vlogs, educational videos, fit checks and, notably, eating videos. And whilst they’ve been known to sample all cuisines and meals as part of their content, their most popular videos are the ones which show them explaining, cutting, and trying fruit. It doesn’t even have to be the main event: they can do regular ‘storytime’ videos, with the inclusion of cutting up some type of fruit, and the video is bound to do numbers.
Living in Hawai’i, the two have access to fruits that are not typically found in Western supermarkets, perhaps explaining the videos’ popularity. Trying them for the first time on camera, the videos introduce the fruits to new audiences, and in turn, themselves to them too. However, before they even get to the eating, Kirsten in particular produces a handful of videos where she shows, cuts and talks about the fruit in question.
Take this one – her ‘exotic fruit haul’ has gained nearly 25 million views, and 4.2 million likes. From Rambutan to Sapote, Kirsten’s fruit videos have been popping off on the app and gaining a ton of engagement. From collaborating with Bretman Rock (dropping him off some of the same sapote) to trying to make sure the fruit doesn’t just rot, the Titus sisters seem to have entered the space where Mukbangs would have sat.
Big brands are taking note too – the two have 8.5 million followers combined, and have been invited to premieres, flown out to Coachella, and been given some major brand deals. Whilst they are undeniably lifestyle creators, it’s the fruit cutting videos that have truly catalysed their ascension to fame – arguably presenting a healthier, more natural antidote for Gen Z on TikTok to the mess that Mukbangs left on YouTube.
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