The Odd, Relaxing Thrill of Watching Tiny Food Videos

June  6, 2017

My Twitter feed’s been flooded with videos of large, human hands prepping pint-size meals lately. They’re everywhere I look. Chrissy Teigen can’t stop watching them, and she’s declared herself a loser for this addiction.

This isn’t a tiny food revolution; that happened a good two years ago when media outlets first noted the existence of these videos. Yet it feels like one. These videos are from Tastemade’s Tiny Kitchen segments, and an account under the handle @FoodsTiny has been tweeting out a number of these videos since the end of last month, collecting over 287,000 followers in that remarkably short timeframe.

Tastemade has devoted immense resources to producing these videos like a factory. They're practically engineered to go viral, with music that teeters this fine line between twee and unsettling. These videos take a cue from their Japanese and Korean predecessors, featuring meal prep for foods shrunk down and fit for Thumbelina.

Some people have found the ubiquity of these videos on social vaguely fatiguing, and I understand this. But I’m of the Chrissy Teigen school of thought: I’ll submit myself gladly to this obsession. For one, it’s hard to convey what deep, dumb satisfaction I get from seeing the rubric of standard cooking videos, a creative thoroughfare of so many media companies (yes, including our own), being upended and driven to such farcical extremes. And watching someone’s hands accomplish what yours can’t arouses a special breed of envy. To watch these videos is to reckon with my own shortcomings.

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If watching these videos makes me a loser, I don’t want to win.

Are you also tending to a tiny food obsession? Let us know in the comments.

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Mayukh Sen is a James Beard Award-winning food and culture writer in New York. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, the New Yorker, Bon Appetit, and elsewhere. He won a 2018 James Beard Award in Journalism for his profile of Princess Pamela published on Food52.