There are about 5.6 million people living alone in South Korea, according to data from Statistics Korea, the country’s National Institute of Statistics. In 2010 something happened spontaneously on the video platform in streaming South Korean AfreecaTV: Hundreds of young people began to sit in front of their computers and narrate their daily lives in front of the camera while they ate. Almost always colorful dishes of carbohydrates and more and more. The spontaneous phenomenon was called mukbang, a term that combines the Korean word for “food” (muk-da) with “broadcasting” (bang-song). His almost instant triumph had to do with the feeling of loneliness of much of their society. Millions of people felt that someone had lunch or dinner with them every day. And since loneliness is as widespread as the love of junk food, the phenomenon soon caught on in other countries around the world.
Watching someone consume thousands of calories in one sitting can be both fascinating and repulsive. However, as Sergio Barreda, CEO of the agency of influencers Madrilenian Keeper Experience, “challenges have always worked, both on television and on YouTube. The success lies in the interest that arouses to see strangers who overcome a challenge, leave their comfort zone and, along the way, suffer a little. In addition, these types of videos have a humorous and entertaining connotation that hooks”. In this the American Nicholas Perry, known in the networks as Nicocado Avocado, has no competition. But there has been nothing funny about its evolution for a long time.
Vegan hero turns to burgers
Born in Ukraine on May 19, 1992, Nicholas did not have a happy childhood. As he told the controversial youtuber Trisha Paytas – the other great heroine of the mukbang, with 2.2 billion views on YouTube – in the podcast The Dish With Trish, as a baby he was adopted by a Pennsylvania family and “I was in and out of therapy since I was five years old.” In that same talk he narrated how much it cost him to process the decision that his biological parents made to abandon him. And that as a teenager he was diagnosed with OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder) and ADD (attention deficit disorder).
Attending to your first twitter accountbetween 2011 and 2012 he earned his living as freelance violinist. His dream was to play in a Broadway orchestra, so in 2013 she moved to New York. He was vegan at the time and kept to a healthy diet.
Just then, through a vegan Facebook group, she met a young Colombian named Orlin Home. After months of chatting, they met in person at the Woodstock Fruit Festival, an event for raw vegans that is held annually in the city of skyscrapers. The crush was immediate. At the beginning of 2014 Nicholas parked his musical aspirations and settled with him in the South American country. In its first official video as a couple They claimed that they were only arguing over food. It was the perfect prologue to what they became a few years later.
It was Orlin, who already had a YouTube channel, who encouraged Nicholas in 2014 to make his debut on the popular video platform. This is how Nikocado Avocado (which is avocado in English). On his older videos, still available on the secondary channel Nicocado Avocado 2, talked about both his exercise routines with Orlin and the many benefits of veganism. Everything changed on September 1, 2016: that day she shared a piece titled Why am I no longer a vegan YouTuber?, today with almost five million views, in which for just over 30 minutes he branded those who reject food of animal origin as “unbalanced, hostile and mentally unstable”. He received a barrage of comments, for example: “here rests in peace the string version of Nikocado Avocado”.
Within a few weeks he made his first mukbang. The empanadas she devoured in that video did not contain meat, but the Internet witnessed for the first time her ravenous appetite. After that, already in 2017, she introduced pizza and other types of fast food. Always in industrial quantities. His subscribers, alarmed, sent him hundreds of messages, worried that he had an eating disorder. In the video My compulsive eating (not suitable for children) He denied that he had a problem.
Nikocado Avocado is not only popular for gobbling up obscene amounts of burgers, fried chicken or spicy noodles, his favorite dish, every day. On March 15, 2017, just one month after Orlin asked her to marry him. –he hid the ring inside an XXL avocado–, his YouTube channel turned into a soap opera, a shamelessly tabloid melodrama. That particular afternoon she talked about the problems she had with her future husband and revealed, between sobs, that Orlin had attempted suicide by cutting his wrists. That video marked a turning point.
From there, he has overexposed all his personal miseries with a single goal: to achieve as many visits as possible. Without going any further, on April 1, 2017, she stated that their relationship was over because, while traveling, he was unfaithful to Orlin with 12 men and transmitted an STD to him. Two weeks later, to the surprise of many, they married. And in October, as her marriage visa was rejected, he was deported from Colombia. Given the increase in subscribers and views – and, therefore, in his income – Nicholas decided to exploit the more histrionic and hyperbolic side of him. Since then, rare is the video in which he doesn’t cry, scream or have a mental breakdown. In one called “No one likes me, I’m finished” she just cries before a huge bowl of fried eggs and noodles while she shaves her hair and, at the end, performs a crucifixion as a performance. Special mention deserve their countless fights with Orlin, in which both insult and physically attack each other rubbing food in their faces. YouTube is full of compilations. They currently reside in Florida and are still married, but in these years there have been so many breakups and reconciliations that it is impossible to trace a reliable chronology of their marital comings and goings.
One of Nikocado Avocado’s most viewed videos, in which he tastes “extremely spicy” noodles with another mukbang star.
Given this, the million dollar question: What is true and fictitious? The answer was given by Nicholas himself in an interview he gave to MEL Magazine in 2020: “Everything is scripted. YouTube has been a way to create a character and offer entertainment. What you see on camera is completely exaggerated to get clicks. People watch wrestling and know it’s fake. They know reality TV is fake, but that doesn’t stop them from enjoying it. I’m smart enough to know that drama sells. Orlin has increasingly practiced these fake food fights, cheating crises, and breakups with me. It doesn’t reflect our relationship in real life at all.”
“I am always two steps ahead. This has been the greatest social experiment I have ever known.” confessed last February 5 before his followers. And he added: “It is exciting to witness, to observe all these sick, unbalanced, disoriented beings, wandering the Internet in search of stories […] I feel as if my life has been positioned where I am, monitoring ants in an ant farm. One follows another. It is fascinating. Just look at all these consumers, all these lost and bored people who consume whatever they are told to consume. I am the villain.”
“The character is almost the most important thing in this type of content. Above all, to somehow empathize with the public and create controversy. The audience expects to see Show, not food”, says Barreda. “Since it is very viral content, it generates a very high retention in the audience. Therefore, the advertising they produce through the platforms themselves is already a fairly important source of income. Many restaurants hire this type of talent to overcome challenges in their establishments and gain publicity. Although, in his case, I don’t think this is his main income.”
Indeed, it is. Apart from his six active channels on YouTube (together they have more than 7.2 million followers), Nicholas has an account on patreona profile in onlyfans and markets t-shirts and sweatshirts stamped with his face. Likewise, he is one of the many celebrities who can be hired in cameo: receiving a personalized message from you costs 139 euros; a video call, 232.
The consequence of all this
“From a psychological perspective, their behavior could resemble that of a binge eating disorder,” says Julia Vázquez, clinical neuropsychologist and researcher at the Vall d’Hebron Research Institute (VHIR). “In this disorder, the irregular presence of binge eating carries with it feelings of discomfort and lack of control. But in his case, from what can be seen in the videos, these components would not be present: he plans the food he is going to eat, the quantity or the moment. Ultimately, all the set. Likewise, it is also common for binge eating to occur in moments of solitude, and he often does it with a partner, either Orlin or another mukbanger. For this reason, he would not fit into that diagnosis. His compulsive eating behavior, used as a show and as a means of livelihood, would be more linked to certain personality traits and to the belief that the economic benefits compensate for the damage to health”.
Regardless of whether his dramas are farce and appeal to the clickbaitthere is something undeniable: now weighs 368 pounds, about 166 kilos. Literally 100 kilos more than when it debuted on YouTube. “What is clear is that, if he continues on this diet, he will end up having many physical and psychological problems,” Vázquez predicts. “The physical symptoms of unhealthy eating, overweight and obesity are high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol. All this can trigger cerebrovascular problems such as a stroke, some cancers, pain, mobility difficulties and, among others, muscle, bone or joint problems.
The first sequels are already a reality. Nicholas recounted in 2019 to Men’s Health who has erection problems, “something that never happened to me until I started doing mukbangs”, or that “I can’t fall asleep because I feel like my digestive tract is on fire”. And as much as he takes the iron out of the matter (one of his most recurrent phrases is that he has gained weight because of the “water weight”), his most loyal fans are very worried. Especially since at the end of 2020 he could be seen shopping at Walmart with a disabled electric scooter. Or, for example, when last September he shared that he had broken three ribs as a result of a severe cough.
“The youtuber more similar to the one we have in Spain would be sttik. However, physically he stays in shape due to the amount of sports he does, thus counteracting the binge eating he eats,” says Barreda. “In our country, a profile as aggressive as Nikocado’s would not work because we are not used to such extremes.”
Nicholas has been saying for some time that he would stop doing mukbangs once he turned 30. If so, in a few weeks this retirement would take place. But knowing his history, and how he enjoys trolling left and right, nothing suggests that this will happen and do not expect a new script twist in this tragicomedy that hooks millions of people.
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