Smiling into the video camera, 25-year-old Hu Tongtong is dwarfed by mountains of food. Today, it might be 200 dumplings. Tomorrow, perhaps 93 eggs, or several dozen kebabs.
As the camera rolls, the 43.5kg Heilongjiang native consumes enough food to satisfy a large family, pausing only briefly to wash down her meal with a soft drink or water.
Introduced from South Korea and Japan in recent years, “eating broadcasts” have rapidly gained popularity in China. The hosts are nearly all young, slim women. Some attract audiences with their exaggerated expressions and gestures, others are known for using quirky ways to make food, while those like Hu raise eyebrows because of their bottomless stomachs.
Hu’s single-sitting consumption records include 93 eggs, 200 dumplings, 76 egg tarts, 5kg of hamburgers and 48 lamb kebabs.
At an eating competition held in Chongqing in May, Hu chalked up a convincing victory over her four rivals – three men and one woman – by eating 17 bowls of noodles in 10 minutes. The rest of the pack struggled to finish between five and seven bowls each.
Hu began streaming her ordinary meals on a live broadcasting app in July last year after seeing videos of other “big stomach kings”.
“I can eat a lot, too. Since I also need to have supper, which on average contains much food, why not show it online?” Hu told the South China Morning Post. She said her goal was to let more people share the joy of delicious food.
Her experience is similar to that of many of her broadcasting counterparts who use their big appetites – sometimes seen as an embarrassment for girls in traditional Chinese culture – to achieve fame and fortune. Online broadcasting apps, a rapidly growing industry in China over the past few years, allow the big eaters’ videos to reach millions.
A survey by Qq.com last year found that more than half of the people born on the mainland after 1995 aspired to do online broadcasting in hopes of becoming an online celebrity. Zhang Yumi, better known on the internet as Mi Zi Jun, is one of the most successful eating-broadcasting hosts in the country. She was among the first Chinese people to live-stream themselves eating, and her single-meal records include 4kg of rice, 10 bowls of pineapple rice, eight bowls of rice noodles and 10 pig’s feet… see more