If listening to other people chew, or even thinking about mouth noises that aren’t words grosses you out, you should probably stop reading right now.
In the ever-expanding world of ASMR, or autonomous sensory meridian response, crunchy noises produced by chowing down on an assortment of raw vegetables is becoming increasingly popular. Whether it’s the crisp sound of a set of molars destroying a hunk of cauliflower, or a healthy eating fetish, the crudités obsession is real.
If you’re not familiar, ASMR describes a phenomenon in which specific sounds like whispers, light tapping, and page turning produces a pleasurably relaxing and often tingling sensation that some people call a “brain orgasm.” Eating and chewing sounds make up just one of the many, many varieties of ASMR, and fans of the extreme crunchy sounds produced while chowing down on a plate of celery and carrots are just a subset of that subset.
ASMR stars who specialize in eating videos, like SAS-ASMR, who has 3.5 million subscribers, tend to offer several types of chewing noises, including crunchy-specific videos featuring raw vegetables like cauliflower, entire leeks, or lotus root, accompanied by some kind of dip–ranch is popular. Other eating genres include sticky mouth sounds produced by consuming items like cinnamon rolls, honeycomb, or mochi; gum chewing; and specific foods like fried chicken or ramen.
There’s a grammar to these videos. Most of them are completely non-verbal, and the items being eaten are labeled with captions or signs to clue viewers in to what’s on the menu. If this seems beside the point, just read the comments on a video that fails to identify what is being chewed. Extreme crunch videos tend to be just vegetables and dip, but sometimes they’re full spreads that look party ready, including cheese, fruit, and charcuterie.
ASMR videos are usually around 20 minutes long—that is a lot of raw veggies if you keep in mind that the stars are chewing nearly constantly. In terms of the sheer volume consumed in a sitting, crunchy vegetable ASMR bears a resemblance to another online eating phenomenon, Korean mukbang videos, in which hosts chat with viewers while putting away truly astonishing amounts of food. The Korean government recently announced a plan to place restrictions on mukbang videos, which often feature huge piles of burgers, fried chicken, and noodles, among other calorie-dense foods, in the face of rising obesity rates.
Banter is key in the mukbang universe—one popular read on the trend is that it exists to fill the void of dining companions in a society that is increasingly lonely. Chewing and eating noises are also important in mukbang though, giving it a real intersection with crunchy ASMR. Some videos even tag themselves as both. Crunchy veggie mukbang could be the next wave of eating video cross-pollination—even with a side ranch, spicy shrimp dip, or sriracha mayo, a whole plate of vegetables is a nutritionist’s dream.