In the past, we’ve talked about how South Koreans love watching videos of people eating large meals. Today’s weird entry is at the other end of the spectrum – people watching videos of tiny food being cooked. Welcome to the latest trend that is crashing YouTube servers in Japan.
For the last twelve months, a growing trend has caught the attention of YouTube viewers worldwide. These miniature meals, also known as pocket cooking, are most popular in Japan. No one is quite sure how this phenomenon started, but many people look toward the YouTube channel Miniature Space, which is the perfect embodiment of Kawaii cooking (Kawaii means ‘cute’ in Japanese). It doesn’t hurt that there are over 460,000 subscribers to the channel, with some videos having been viewed nearly 4 million times.
The premise is simple. Take the full preparations of a recipe or meal and recreate it in a tiny setting, complete with LEGO figurines and dollhouse furniture. The actual process of cooking such a small meal, however, is anything but easy. It takes quite a bit of skill, and patience, to make this happen. Kawaii food requires special candles, tiny cast iron pans, and a lot of dexterity with a tiny spatula. If you’re able to master those skills, there really is no limit to what you can create. The culinary masters behind Miniature Space have videos showing Mac and cheese, popcorn, fish and chips (below) and even elaborately decorated strawberry shortcake. Not to mention dog-friendly pudding.
A leader in online video marketing, Tubular Labs found that of all the food-related videos on YouTube, numbering over 17,000,000, a little over 3% of them relate to miniature food. That might not seem like much, but for a niche market, those numbers are astronomical. Tubular Labs, in conducting its research, questioned users about their viewing habits and why they liked pocket cooking. Most respondents stressed the cute factor, while others cited that they were more emotionally invested in watching the preparation of the meals because of the skill required to use the small utensils.
As viewers continue to tune in, more chefs are stepping into the video kitchen. Not only are these culinary creators hoping for some attention, but they’re also eager to cash in. The man and woman behind Miniature Space recently signed a deal with a Japanese supermarket worth more than $150,000. For that type of money, you can be sure that we’re only weeks away from a new type of Iron Chef competition.