Why we can’t stop watching people chopping fruit and telling stories on TikTok
I am not, in particular, a fruit person. I have always preferred vegetables. But something about watching the TikTokkers on my For You page slipping their knives through watermelons, starfruit, and lychee makes me salivate.
They don’t just cut fruit. Most of the fruit videos I come across are informative, demonstrating the best way to cut common and rare fruits. But the most captivating videos don’t focus on the fruit at all. Instead, chatty vloggers detail their love life and inner thoughts, filling my gossip-hungry brain with doses of drama as they slice up whatever fruit they want.
One of the TikTokkers that does this the best is Kirsten Titus, also known as @pepperonimuffin. She started cutting fruit just to have something to do with her hands as she talked about her life online. This is what most of her account focuses on, which she has dubbed “a public newspaper”.
“The very first fruit video I made, I didn’t deliberately cut the watermelon, I just happen to cut the watermelon,” Kirsten said. “And it took me about four or five videos before I noticed that they were okay, that people thought it was funny. And then I was like OK, I’m going to keep doing that.”
Kirsten is originally from Hawaii, where she spent her summer with her family. Being there gave him access to a plethora of fruits not always accessible to mainlanders, including dragon fruit, pomelos, and papayas. These are the fruits that interest her followers the most, and the ones she sometimes focuses on rather than her personal stories, which range from conversations about her love life to an analysis of her professional history.
“The big fruits help. And the papayas are good because it’s so interesting to see all the seeds come out,” she said. “It must be an interactive fruit.”
Lala, who goes by @lalaleluu on TikTok, makes similar videos, albeit almost accidentally.
“A lot of my TikToks [when I started making them] were life hacks. And someone asked me how to cut a watermelon, and that’s how it started, “Lala said.” It’s pretty boring to describe what I’m doing because they can literally see it, so I just started telling stories while I was doing it. And I don’t know what it is, but I know that every time I pull out a fruit, this video gets a lot of views. “
One thing is clear: there is something fascinating and instructive about watching someone slice fruit while chatting. It gives viewers something to watch and listen to, and it doesn’t matter if one has nothing to do with the other.
The evolution of fruit slicing videos
Cutting fruit on the screen is not a new phenomenon. In its first iteration, even before TikTok was born, fruit videos often focused on procedures for particularly hard-to-slice products. These videos have found their way to YouTube, where Google search results for “fruit slicing on YouTube” show over 100,000 relevant videos (note: YouTube does not display the total number of search results).
Search for “fruit slicing” on YouTube today and you’ll find tutorials dedicated to the best methods, from food bloggers, chefs and food publications. You can find video tutorials from over 10 years ago until about a year ago, with people cutting everything from everyday apple to tough durian. The most popular videos come from cooking-focused publications like Epicurious, whose 2019 video featuring chef Frank Proto chopping up a multitude of fruit has garnered more than 34 million views.
What ties these previous fruit videos together is who, generally, was behind them. The tutorials came from seasoned professionals in the food industry, or from platforms who wanted to highlight these experts. Yes, there will always be random home foodies who want to show off their knife skills, but the most popular fruit videos have often been made by those who really knew what they were doing. That is, until recently.
As our focus waned and the short video took over, TikTok’s version of fruit cutting videos did the same. Of course, you can always find tips from well-trained diet pros who teach knife manners on TikTok – like Sushi Chef @_mynameischo demonstrating the best way to artfully slice an avocado – but you can also just as often. find regular seniors doing the same.
TikTok user @metemgeeblog demonstrates how to cut a pineapple.
Credit: Screenshot: TikTok / @ metemgeeblog
Cutting the eyes is essential!
Credit: SCREENSHOT: TIKTOK / @ METEMGEEBLOG
Are there too many instructions? I suspect the answer is yes. These days, some of TikTok’s most popular fruit cutting videos don’t teach you anything. Viewers are drawn to the action itself or to a conversation that is not about the fruit at all. The popular TikTokker @alexthefruitninja is constantly chopping fruit for their fans, usually uneducated beyond the visual element.
Some silent instructions on how to cut a kiwi.
Credit: Screenshot: TikTok / @ alexthefruitninja
Credit: Screenshot: TikTok / @ alexthefruitninja
This brings us to the talkative TikTokkers who stole my heart. Kirsten and Lala are perhaps the two biggest accounts that just chat and chop, unrelated action to the story, and that fits their vlogging type content. Watching these videos feels like you’re on FaceTime with a friend. They make big TikTokkers feel like real people, and accessibility is perhaps what makes these videos – and creators like Kirsten and Lala – so popular.
While browsing my For You page, I also found old Survivor Contestant Lauren-Ashley Beck demonstrates how to chop a coconut by answering frequently asked questions on the show. The FAQs are part of its consistent content, but the coconut is not always present. In this case, the fruit was relevant for Survivor like a show, but did not relate directly to the questions she was answering.
And there are a lot of seemingly ordinary people who cook their fruit while complaining about their days, or talking about Taylor Swift’s lyrics, or doing just about anything else. These videos may have sprung up due to the popularity of the fruit cut from creators like Kirsten and Lala, but it’s more than likely that these ordinary people are just looking for something to occupy their hands while talking to the camera. . Maybe it’s a coincidence that they hit a fruit. Or maybe there is something about the fruit that is especially appealing to the abbreviated audience. This is damn satisfying to see a fruit go whole to sliced in a minute.
TikTok’s era of fruit videos has a little problem: it’s really hard to find them. Unlike tutorials, which are easily searchable with terms like “how to cut fruit,” the casual talk and cut videos that are so fun to watch are not united by a search term or a hashtag. This is another mysterious foundation of the TikTok algorithm, which has kind of figured out that I enjoy this intersection and is constantly providing them to me on my FYP.
OK, the gossip I get, but… why fruit?
The short answer? The reaction to watching these videos may mimic ASMR, which stands for “Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response”. ASMR is a type of bodily response to sensory triggers that ranges from a pleasant tingling sensation to a deeply relaxing state, possibly inducing sleep.
There are entire accounts dedicated to strangely satisfying fruit content; for example, @ cccase2000, which specifically peels and crushes fruit for viewers to enjoy. These textures, sounds and visuals are all classic ASMR triggers.
“Our published research has shown that there are several brain regions activated during ASMR,” said Dr. Craig Richard, founder of ASMR University and host of the S.whisper. One of them is the median prefrontal cortex, which responds to social behaviors and is rich in oxytocin receptors. Oxytocin, also known as the love hormone, can be highly released during ‘ASMR and induce the common sense of relaxation and comfort. “
But to be fair, the original ASMR videos, like the ones that feature gooey substances or close-ups of people eating, may also be a bit too much for some viewers. The combination of slicing through various textures of fruit, the sound of a knife on a cutting board, and hearing about someone else’s life gives you the satisfying triggers of ASMR – repetitive sounds. and the feeling of devoted attention – minus the creepy crawlers – intimate whispers or particularly messy textures on screen.
“When I started [making the videos,] it’s because personally, when I watch a TikTok, I like people to do two things at the same time, ”Kirsten said. “You know the ADHD brain likes to see two things. You can go down in history, you can pay attention to the [fruit,] you can do both. You can decide. “
Fruits also often hold a special place in our hearts. Hailed as the healthy alternative to sweets, they come in a wide variety, which usually means there is something for everyone. For the children of immigrants in particular, the fruits can even go so far as to be a language of love.
Almost everyone has a personal connection to a fruit. And it’s just fun to see popular accounts interacting with something that’s relevant to you, whether it’s a fruit you want to learn how to cut, a product you’ve never tried, or the fruit your mom cut for you.
“The fruit slicing video is probably not a strong ASMR booster, but it can still be of benefit to the viewer,” said Richard. “The viewer can still appreciate the simulated attention of the individual and also appreciate the story, which can reduce stress hormones and release brain-healthy chemicals.”
If you’ve found yourself doing a little too much doomscroll lately, let me recommend that you seek out Kirsten or Lala’s videos. If you like them, you can start training your TikTok algorithm to feed yourself more fruit talk by intentionally watching and ending these videos, which should send your FYP the message that you want more. They leave me much more relaxed than I would like to admit, and I often go away after inadvertently learning something new without having to put in much mental energy. Really, what more could you ask for these days than a good mental break?