7 of the Most Popular Food Videos on YouTube

7 of the Most Popular Food Videos on YouTube

What these videos' millions (and billions) of views say about us.

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Mukbang video
Screenshot: DONA / YouTube

As we all know, YouTube is a useful place to further explore one’s love of food. We can watch meals being made, watch people eat new things, and learn cool facts about global cuisine. We can even watch food do unspeakable things (thank you, Sausage Party).

The type of food videos that can find viral fame on YouTube vary wildly. What does it take to command the attention of millions of people around the world, and what does the popularity of each video say about us? What follows are seven hugely popular culinary clips. Click play, skip the ad, and find out what makes them special.

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“I Ate A $70,000 Golden Pizza”

“I Ate A $70,000 Golden Pizza”

I Ate A $70,000 Golden Pizza

Views: 157 million+

This video sees the great showman (and even greater tipper) MrBeast feast on a range of very, very expensive dishes. These include $64 wings (“really good”), $250 grilled cheese (“so good”), a $2,000 steak (“amazing”), $6,000 ribs (“whatever”), and the $70,000 pizza (watch and find out).

Clearly, it’s aspirational to witness all the exquisite ingredients that went into each meal. In fact, MrBeast’s entire channel allows viewers to live in a sort of dreamworld unencumbered by financial restrictions or 9-5 work schedules. And depicting FOMO-inducing meals translates to big business: the YouTuber’s MrBeast Burger brand has gone from virtual popup to brick-and-mortar restaurant to huge success. No golden pizzas on the menu, though.

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“20 Surprise Eggs, Kinder Surprise Cars 2 Thomas Spongebob Disney Pixar”

“20 Surprise Eggs, Kinder Surprise Cars 2 Thomas Spongebob Disney Pixar”

20 Surprise Eggs, Kinder Surprise Cars 2 Thomas Spongebob Disney Pixar

Views: 930 million+

Since this video was first posted in 2013, the world has gone to shit in so many ways that it’s only natural for hundreds of millions of people to turn to a simple, soothing video such as this. Since Kinder Surprise eggs were banned in the U.S. for many years, it’s a safe bet that a large chunk of the views are from American viewers who wish to vicariously experience those eggs. More specifically, American children.

This video was one of the early leaders in the “toy unboxing” genre of children’s YouTube entertainment that has been both a blessing and a curse for parents everywhere. These POV videos combining the experience of both candy and toys—plus a lot of weird synth music and ASMR wrapper-crinkling—gobbles up children’s attention spans and holds their attention longer than most cartoons. Is it the perfect diversion or rampant materialism? You decide.

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“The Gummy Bear Song - Long English Version”

“The Gummy Bear Song - Long English Version”

The Gummy Bear Song - Long English Version

Views: 2.9 billion+

This Gummy Bear banger was uploaded in 2007 and its success has been monstrous. In fact, it was the third video ever (at the time) to reach one billion views on YouTube. It’s been translated into many languages and even did well on music charts.

Of course, a catchy techno beat and colorful animation only gets you so far. What really seals the deal is the gooey sweetness and charisma of its Gummy Bear character. Not many other foods are capable of capturing hearts around the world to that degree.

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“Goosebumps (6/10) Movie CLIP - Werewolf On Aisle 2 (2015) HD”

“Goosebumps (6/10) Movie CLIP - Werewolf On Aisle 2 (2015) HD”

Goosebumps (6/10) Movie CLIP - Werewolf On Aisle 2 (2015) HD

Views: 509 million+

This is currently the most viewed video on the Movieclips channel. It must be pretty special if it’s able to outperform Anna Kendrick in the shower (Pitch Perfect) or Justin Bieber dying (Zoolander No. 2).

There are certain obvious elements that would explain this video’s success: the exciting chase, cool animated werewolf, and the nostalgic delight of seeing a 1990s Goosebumps scenario brought to life. But the core of its appeal is the fact that it’s depicting everybody’s food-related fantasy: having an entire supermarket to oneself. Young Champ (Ryan Lee) pops open a bottle of soda, the werewolf rips into a chilled hunk of meat, and Stine (Jack Black) is pushed around in a grocery cart at top speed. At three minutes long, it’s a perfectly self-contained little horror clip that’s just thrilling enough for kids without making them too scared—just like a Goosebumps book.

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“Mukbang 짜장면 떡볶이 편의점 먹방 Convenience Store Food DONA 도나”

“Mukbang 짜장면 떡볶이 편의점 먹방 Convenience Store Food DONA 도나”

Mukbang 짜장면 떡볶이 편의점 먹방 Convenience Store Food DONA 도나

Views: 367 million+

Ah, mukbang: a popular type of video in which a person eats a large quantity of food while talking to the camera. South Korean YouTuber DONA is one of the most successful mukbang stars, and this particular video features her nibbling through a variety of convenience store treats.

There are several possible reasons as to why so many people watch this video and others like it. Some say that watching people eat is a way of feeling less lonely. Additionally, for some people the sounds of food being prepared and consumed triggers a satisfying sensation known as ASMR. For this viewer, the key to the video’s appeal is just how fascinating it is to see an array of unique foods that other countries have on offer. The fact that DONA posted this one in November 2020 would suggest that many people viewed the video simply to enjoy something that resembles overseas travel.

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“35 UNBELIEVABLE COOKING HACKS”

“35 UNBELIEVABLE COOKING HACKS”

35 UNBELIEVABLE COOKING HACKS

Views: 66 million+

It’s no secret that food hacks get big clicks. It makes sense: People eat food several times a day for the entirety of their lives, and it’s natural to want to learn about how best to prepare and enjoy it. A particularly masterful video within this genre comes to us from the talented folks at 5-Minute Crafts (77.4 million subscribers).

The video showcases an array of quick and simple cooking hacks—perfect for our short attention spans—and it’s almost entirely free of written or spoken words, so language barriers are not an issue. It speaks the universal language of food, shedding light on how to peel garlic, slice peppers, and make hot dog spaghetti (?) with apparent ease.

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“Katy Perry - Bon Appétit (Official) ft. Migos”

“Katy Perry - Bon Appétit (Official) ft. Migos”

Katy Perry - Bon Appétit (Official) ft. Migos

Views: 1.2 billion+

This 2017 video is unlikely to increase your appetite at all, unless you happen to have cannibalistic tendencies. It shows superstar Katy Perry being handled quite literally like food: she’s pulled from shrink wrap by “chefs,” kneaded like dough, pulled apart, basted, boiled, trimmed, and bruleed before being served on a plate with plenty of garnish. It pushes a not at all subtle message about women being treated as “pieces of meat” by men. It’s also disturbing as heck, but transfixing nonetheless.

The song wasn’t a major success on the charts, but the video’s buzz was clearly enough to draw in over a billion viewers. And given that humans are wired to enjoy the sensation of being creeped out, it hits the spot regardless of how people feel about the music.

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