A man in a blue checkered shirt sits at a table set with three things: a spoon, a pint of Ample Hills Creamery Peppermint Pattie ice cream, and a hefty burrito. Wordlessly, he tears the heaping burrito in two. He picks up one of the halves — roughly the size of his own fist — rips off a hunk, and dumps it unceremoniously onto the ice cream. He digs his spoon into the ice cream, deposits the creamy glob into his mouth, and chews while staring directly into the camera without blinking. Fin.
The entire video only lasts 27 seconds, but it might still be enough to trigger your gag reflex, depending on your tolerance for heinous toppings. If “burrito on ice cream” isn’t enough to twist your stomach, maybe raw oysters, easy cheese, or mustard on ice cream will get you. But the creators of the channel Man Eating Food aren’t here to gross you out. “The goal for the channel is really just to make something genuinely fun,” says co-creator Ben Rosen. He and Eric, a special-ed teacher he connected with through a friend, wanted to create something truly weird for the web.
Eric and his reliable blue shirt are the stars of these videos. He never complains or flinches, he just silently eats whatever’s in front of him, whether it’s a nightmare like wet cat food on ice cream, or something entirely prosaic, like spam or strawberries. The channel doesn’t even stick strictly to food. In one video, Eric tears into a garbage bag like a dog into jerky. In another, he gamely nibbles on paper towels. Viewers eat it up. “I don’t know why this is a thing, but I love it!“ comments one. “This is the best one yet,” adds another. Many of these eating requests come directly from Reddit, where Eric and Rosen tackle whatever comes their way.
Rosen is the man behind the camera, occasionally audible or visible in little unpolished touches. In “burrito on ice cream,” you can clearly hear him announce “action.” The YouTube thumbnail for “lemon on ice cream” is partially obscured by what appears to be his blurry hand. In today’s ecosystem of loud, eye-catching thumbnails or staged, self-aware videos a la Poppy, the production bobbles should have viewers fleeing. Even the upload schedule for these videos is inconceivable by modern best practices. Instead of spacing videos out or offering uploads at the same time daily, the channel dumps new content unceremoniously, all at once, in what Rosen calls “seasons.” The first season was just about eating relatively normal things, while season 2 went all in on random foods as ice cream toppings.
Man Eating Food feels like a remnant of old YouTube, before creators learned to preen, polish, and grapple with YouTube’s impossible algorithm. It’s classically weird content, the sort of useless video you’d expect to find on eBaum’s World instead of YouTube. “The internet isn’t as recklessly silly as it used to be, so we’re really trying to bring that back,” Rosen says.
For now, Man Eating Food is a relatively small channel, with only 19K subscribers. But it continues to grow; already, it has more than 300 videos waiting to be watched. The creators are currently prepping season 3 of their project. “We’ve built an audience that’s religiously invested in the style and format we’ve created,” Rosen says. “There’s a delicate balance for evolving the channel. We want to continue to deliver surprising and delightful content while still being respectful of the tone and simplicity of the first batch of videos.”