Ah, YouTube, the inspirational and terrifying video-streaming portal of the Internet. Only here can you find a step-by-step guide to eating on three dollars a day, then fall down a rabbit hole and find yourself 45 minutes deep in a video of a Korean girl loudly taking down a family-sized bucket of KFC. It's not hard to get lost in the matrix of edible content on YouTube—so here's a breakdown of the site's subcultures, from the instructional to the extremist to the just-plain-weird.
What I Eat In a Day vloggers
"What I Eat In a Day" videos—which are exactly what they sound like—awaken the nosiness within us all—watching them often feels thrillingly taboo, like reading a stranger's diary. While many popular YouTubers' WIEIAD videos are strangely homogenous (açai bowls, avocado toasts, fancy teas in cute mugs), others aren't ashamed to show a failed recipe or a day when they eat cake for dinner. We feel that.
What I Eat In a Day critics
Trolls are, of course, the natural response to anything popular on the internet. And WIEIAD videos are no exception—they're subject to this cutthroat cult of vegans who sip the haterade while reacting, in real time, to other vloggers' diet log videos. It's a vlog-eat-vlog world, my friends.
These are the glowing, tropics-dwelling sirens of YouTube, "fruitarians" who swear by eating a diet of entirely raw fruits and vegetables. These people have to eat a shit-ton of food to get in enough calories for survival, which makes for pretty fascinating videos—the most obsession-worthy are vlogs of "banana island", a sort of cleanse that fruitarians do, during which they eat nothing but bananas. So many bananas. Like, fifty bananas a day. And nothing else.
This is the kind of food content that YouTube's founders probably imagined when they launched the site a decade ago. Everything you hate about food television—scripted hosts, unrealistic recipes and fancy editing—goes out the window on YouTube, where anyone can cook anything, no producers necessary. Sometimes that's a beautiful thing. And other times—well, just search "hot dog spaghetti".
This unexpectedly popular Korean-originated fad is the stuff of nightmares for people with misophonia (the fear of icky sounds). Mukbang artists film themselves eating a big meal from start to finish, smacking and slurping and crunching, often stopping to talk with a full mouth. The sensory-overloading videos are usually long, often upwards of 40 minutes, because apparently some people out there find them really soothing. It's the same effect as ASMR eating videos, and, in the same vein, it's unclear why it gives so many people a brain-boner.
Making #gains isn't as simple as pounding protein after leg day, bro. There's a subsection of bodybuilders on YouTube who follow the "If It Fits Your Macros" diet, a hyper-neurotic plan that involves tracking the exact amount of each macronutrient (protein/fat/carbs) they consume in a day. Each person has their own personalized macro goal to hit every day, and they track their intake using a food scale and macro-tracking apps like MyFitnessPal. Their videos are a true testament to commitment—IIFYM'ers bring their food scales to chain restaurants, and share "macro hacks" for volumizing their food (like adding shredded zucchini to morning oatmeal).
If you do something extreme, dangerous, and idiotic and you don't put it on the internet—does it even happen? YouTube food challenges have existed since the dawn of man, pretty much… or at least since the cinnamon challenge blew up. Challenges have gotten more obscure, i.e. the "Eat it or Wear it" challenge, in which challengers have to choose between eating their least favorite food or having it dumped on their head. Or, there's the "10,000 Calorie Challenge," a self-explanatory, seriously cruel and unusual, self-inflicted punishment.
Assembling tiny food
Ah, how contagious is the Japanese affinity for adorableness? These miniature food kits are just cute for the sake of cuteness, and that's just fine with us—often times they're made of inedible mixes of chemical powders and goopy things. Do they taste good? Who cares—they're so tiny! And, for reasons we can't explain, everyone loves that shit.
You can run, but you can't hide—Pinterest-inspired "hacks" will always find you. In case you haven't been enlightened, you can use an empty water bottle to separate egg yolks from their whites, and you can cut a pint of ice cream in half to make two disposable bowls. There's also at least 300k microwavable mug cake recipes out there, which is exactly 300k more than needed.
Ever wanted to try prison food? No? Well, someone on YouTube did it for you anyway, so don't worry about it. Thanks to the World Wide Web, you don't have to taste-test astronaut food, weird pop-tart flavors, or the oldest peanut butter ever.
Epic Meal Time created the genre of stunty cooking clickbait—the Canadian megabros amassed millions of views and subscribers by making some really gross shit. And so begins the dangerous game of one-uppery. We're talking chugging Everclear, vaping hot peppers, and a whole bunch of other shit that nobody asked for.
So next time you're in the mood to get drop into an Internet k-hole, grab a drink and post up on the YouTube. Autoplay: on. See you on the other side.