It’s like Cardi B says: there’s nothing better than the satisfying squelch of a pot of macaroni. Now, as reported by GameRant, audio experts are leaning into that signature squelch to create ooey-gooey video game sounds. Turns out, the average kitchen is full of foods that translate easily into realistic sound effects. Take note, TikTokers.
Some context: Destiny 2, a first-person shooter video game, released an expansion called The Witch Queen last month. The game involves something called an “Exotic Worm Launcher,” which I assume is... exactly what it sounds like. In theory, launching worms out of a giant weapon is a slippery situation accompanied by lots of squelching. And in lieu of shooting actual worms out of an actual gun, Destiny 2's senior audio lead, Evan Buehler, told GameRant that he opted for a homemade squishy sound effect: beef macaroni and cheese. Buehler says:
“One of the things about The Witch Queen that is unusual is that the whole of it was still work from home. All of our sound designers, normally we can do some recording together, but a lot of these were done in isolation. [...] The best example was Parasite, the Worm Launcher. Those are actually sounds you might find in your house. Specifically, if you’ve ever made some fresh pasta, especially beef mac n cheese, and you mix it around a little bit, those were the sounds we used to create that.”
The history of food as sound effects
Per Empire, we can trace food-related sound design way back to 1927. That’s when Universal Studios employee Jack Foley created sound effects for Show Boat, the film adaptation of the hit Broadway musical. Foley’s work kicked off the entire post-production sound design industry, which is how so-called “foley artists” got their name.
From the very start, foley artists have used foodstuffs to create compelling sound design. Take, for example, the classic “coconuts as horse hooves” technique. But these techniques weren’t limited to the early days of film—Empire cites a few modern blockbusters that have benefited from the audible power of everyday foods:
- In Terminator 2, we see the Terminator stamping on a human skull. That sound was created by grinding a pistachio nut into a metal plate
- In Jurassic Park, we see a darling little velociraptor emerge from an egg. The sharp cracking of the egg was actually an ice cream cone being crumbled.
- Empire reports that E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial director Steven Spielberg wanted E.T.’s bodily sound to be “liquidy and friendly.” With that in mind, sound artist Joan Rowe recorded the movement of packaged liver in a flat container and combined that with the sound of jelly in a wet towel and popcorn in a bag. All three sounds were used to create the little alien’s signature squish.
Want to create your own kitchen sound effects? Don’t be afraid to get messy. A little mayo goes a long way.