The online cult of ASMR is massive. YouTube is full of thousands of videos featuring people whispering softly, tapping their French tips on a hardwood table, or running their fingers through the tines of a hairbrush, all trying to help your brain achieve an elusive neural orgasm known as the autonomous sensory meridian response.
For those uninitiated into this creepy community of tingle-seekers, ASMR is probably best described as a pleasurable version of the nails-on-a-chalkboard phenomenon: a warm sensation that sends vibrations down the back of your neck and all over the dome of your skull, triggered by certain sensory stimuli.
It's also not something that affects everyone. Apparently only part of the population "gets" ASMR, just like not everyone "gets" magic-eye pictures or Beyoncé. It could even be a genetic thing for some, like the people who were born with the crossed wires that make them think cilantro tastes like Comet. The actual science on ASMR is scant, and some neurologists aren't sure that it even exists. Those who do think that the tingling feelings produced by ASMR might be tiny seizures. But for those who do experience ASMR, there's a wealth of material out there to give you a brain boner.
Any cursory Googling will bring up videos from the doyenne of ASMR, an Eastern European woman named Maria who goes by the handle GentleWhispering and who constantly sounds like she's on the verge of crying as she attempts to trigger the chills by blowing into a high-tech microphone or folding towels. Her most popular videos have reached over six million views.
Among many other techniques, Maria discovered that the sounds of eating can also induce these braingasms. Here she is eating borscht, plov, and herring salad, whispering reassuringly between and during bites:
But Maria is hardly the only ASMR cultist to use food for a sensory jerk-session. Here's a woman eating, in her description, "buffalo wangss":
It's the sounds of wet mouths, sucking, swallowing, and gobs of saliva churning with slick and sticky substances. Close your eyes and listen: This is actual food porn.
Like anything else, the spectrum of ASMR eating videos is wide and not composed solely of Russian cuisine or sauce-drowned chicken. Here's a health nut version with vegan mac and cheese and, as the woman in the video warns, "TOO MUCH SILVERWARE CLANKING":
And here's the same woman, sucking down noodles. If you've never watched a David Attenborough nature documentary, this human female approximates the sounds of an ant colony chowing down on a pile stick insect eggs:
Then there's this very earnest Aussie with kind eyes who downs Coke and chocolate chips to get his brain-feels:
For you crustacean lovers, here's the hi-def sounds of a king crab carcass being cracked open and torn to pieces, the sweet meat sucked from its exoskeleton:
And the list goes on and on.
There are hundreds, if not thousands more of these videos out there. In researching this, what emerged what the picture of an addict who will stop at nothing crunchy, slurpy, or sticky to get his or her nervous fix. At the same time, the videos are oddly soothing—especially as all of these people throw propriety out the door and eat not only with their mouths open, but with microphones practically inside their mouths. To hell with convention, they seem to say. I'm going to whisper at you like a cartoon villain as I rhythmically inhale a plate of spaghetti up-close, gonzo-porn style. It's refreshing, if thoroughly and unambiguously disgusting.
Enjoy your brain boner, reader, and pass the wangss.