About two weeks ago, Ben Rosen, an avid Reddit user, posted a collaboration with Eric, a middle-aged guy with a greying beard and leg-sized forearms. Eric's idea combined with Ben's Internet-savvy birthed the odd, yet aesthetically pleasing YouTube channel "man eating food."
The not-yet-but-about-to-be viral popularity began on Reddit, of course, when Ben posted, "I have videos of a guy eating every food... I'll respond to any food requests in the comments with the appropriate video." The attached YouTube video has an unforgettable screen cap of Eric furrowing his brows and staring straight into the camera as he eats a spoonful of mayonnaise.
These videos are 10 to 15 seconds, long enough for Eric to take a bite, poker faced, of whatever Redditors request, whether it be onion, dog food, or even trash bag.
The number of responses on Reddit exceeded Ben's expectations and made it hard to keep up. So much so that YouTube struggled to process the large number of uploads.
As of this writing, there are about 126 videos, all with the same white background, brown desk, Eric's blue gridded polo, and crisp sounds. The clarity of Eric's bite contains an aspect of mukbang (that thing where people, usually cute girls, eat food loudly and without manners); his eating sounds crisp in that ASMR-like way. In "man eating food,' Eric and Ben elevated mukbang, making it artistic instead of voyeuristic.
The videos are formulaic and, therefore, addicting. As the food or object in front of Eric varies, the more inclined one feels to click it and watch — building hope that this will be the video where he will finally give some clue as to how it tastes.
But what elicits the grand question about Internet behavior are the view-counts. It is an unknowable mystery why "spinach" has 772 views and "tea" has 32,000.
Whether people are kinky or just find one food better than the other, what makes "man eating food" so good is its consistency of vision: a simple set, crisp sounds and his calm demeanor. In the end, everyone deserves to see someone bite into an onion like an apple, or chomp on a roll of paper towels. And Eric is the handlebar mustache martyr we all need to do so.