Illustration by Marlowe Pody for an article on Stephanie Soo
Soo makes true crime easy to swallow. (Illustration by Marlowe Pody, Rhode Island School of Design)

YouTuber Stephanie Soo Combines True Crime and Food for a Good Time

The mukbanger has captivated audiences with her fun-loving personality, mouthwatering meals and innate storytelling abilities.

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Illustration by Marlowe Pody for an article on Stephanie Soo
Soo makes true crime easy to swallow. (Illustration by Marlowe Pody, Rhode Island School of Design)

The mukbanger has captivated audiences with her fun-loving personality, mouthwatering meals and innate storytelling abilities.

Stephanie Soo’s videos usually start with her smiling behind a gigantic plate of colorful food.  She plays the funniest clips as a sneak peek before beginning her classic introduction: “My name is Stephanie and today we’re back with another — DUN DUN — mukbang!” Her fiancé (aka Stephiance) joins in behind the camera as they yell in excitement. As the video continues, Soo and her fiancé go deep into the story of a serial killer, haunted house or a disappearance all while eating delicious-looking food.

Soo joined YouTube in March of 2017 and has gained over 2.4 million subscribers over the past few years. She is a 25-year-old Korean American mukbanger from Atlanta known for her quirky personality, fascination with true crime stories and iconic “biss.” She coined the term as an endearing and sillier alternative to the curse word, and even sells merchandise with “biss” lettered on the front of T-shirts and phone cases.

Mukbang videos originated in South Korea but have made their way to global YouTube screens over the past few years. In an interview with NPR, Soo talked about her first encounter with mukbang videos, “[A]t first, I had probably the initial reaction of everyone that has never seen a mukbang video, which is, oh, my gosh. Like, I’m on the weird side of YouTube. Like, what is this? This is kind of disgusting but also so entertaining, and I can’t stop watching.”

She sprinkles in humor while discussing and analyzing true crime, telling the stories of cases like Ted Bundy or the Zodiac Killer. Although the content may be difficult to swallow or hard to understand, Soo adds in nuggets of humor and poses thoughtful questions throughout. Her narrative is linear, making it easy to understand, and her calm voice makes it pleasurable to listen to. With posts a few times every week showcasing her contagiously silly character and quick wit, there is no room to be bored.

Heidi Cold, author of Soo’s “Influencer Case Study” for The Coldest Water, described Soo’s personality as not “something you come across every day. She’s extremely confident with her personality, body, sometimes to the point of poking fun even at her own self, and she’s okay with it. She’s simply quirky and adorable.”

Not only does Soo have a mukbang channel, but she also juggles a daily vlog channel, MissMangoButt, in which she vlogs her life with her fiancé, MisterMangoButt, and her two adorable Frenchies, Mango and Tiger. Her latest vlogs show her search for a new house, reactions to TikToks, quest to try new foods and life with anxiety. Soo launched a true crime podcast called Rotten Mango earlier this past summer. It’s similar to her mukbang channel, as she analyzes crime stories and the psychology of the perpetrators, particularly psychopathy. Her podcasts are about an hour long, the cases including those of Ed Gein and Jeffrey Dahmer.

Self-proclaimed “most responsible YouTuber” MisterMangoButt has his own YouTube channel. Fans respect his choice to not reveal his face or identity. In full-body shots, he sports a panda head to secure his identity as he dances to TikTok choreography with his fiancée or makes his own vlogs. He is present in almost all of Soo’s mukbangs, podcasts and vlogs. Although he makes sarcastic remarks or picks on Stephanie, he plans cute surprises for her, such as recreating Disneyland in their house or giving her a special ring on their seventh anniversary. The duo is known for their constant joking and many TikTok references.

Do not watch Soo’s mukbangs while hungry. Her assortment of nuclear noodles, In-N-Out and Korean fried chicken will have your mouth watering. The way she plates her food is aesthetically pleasing with her organized plating and appetizing combinations. Over the past few years, Soo has tried many different kinds of foods, always experimenting. She has mixed foods together, made her own concoctions, tried different dishes of all the same color and put various foods in stacks, towers and rows. The juxtaposition between petite Stephanie and the mountains of food is stark, but as the video progresses, the food slowly dwindles until only a little is saved for leftovers.

Soo’s mukbang videos average around 40 minutes, filled with well-researched and in-depth conversations about particular true crime stories. Each video begins with a rundown of the food they are eating and slowly segues into the case. While analyzing cases, Soo takes into consideration the problems and the emotions involved, getting real about heavy topics such as systemic racism and sexism. Throughout the video, she tells the case beginning to end with her fiancé commenting and asking interesting questions while she takes a break from narrating to eat or sip water. Her mukbangs are usually just her and her fiancé, but when she collabs, they involve other mukbangers, her best friends and her cousin, DanDan, who is a favorite of Soo’s viewers.

Due to the pandemic and people being cooped up in their homes, Soo has found an increase in viewership. She explained to NPR how the pandemic has affected her channel: “So I actually did see, like, a small spike of viewership and views. And also, watch time was a lot longer after the pandemic started. So it does seem like people are like, OK, I’m stuck at home, and maybe I’ll just eat with you.” Watching Soo’s mukbangs gives a sense of companionship amid the social isolation the pandemic has brought. Spending a little less than an hour of time listening to Soo narrate true crime and joke with Stephiance feels like meeting with a friend a few times a week.

For those interested in true crime or mukbangs, Stephanie Soo’s videos are perfect to watch while eating lunch or winding down before bed. Between her two channels and her podcast, there is plenty of content to keep fans and true crime fanatics entertained.

Writer Profile

Samantha Havela

University of Michigan
English and Women’s & Gender Studies

Samantha Havela is a passionate senior studying English and Women’s & Gender Studies at the University of Michigan. She loves writing almost as much as she loves her dog.

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