(Yonhap Feature) Irreverent duo shoots raw video taste tests of canned foods
By Eugene Hwang
SEOUL, March 9 (Yonhap) -- Senor Guerro picked up a beondaegi (a Korean silkworm), and after much hesitation, attempted to eat it. The dry heaves started. He couldn't even manage to chew the edible insect without having to run over to the sink to wash the taste out of his mouth.
"It's like a peanut, but it tastes like... death!" he exclaimed. After a second try with more agitation of his gag reflex, he had decided that the Korean side dish made of silkworms was not for him.
It was now time for his tag team partner, Herr Pink, to test the beondaegi himself. Fearing the worst, Pink put one in his mouth. After successfully chewing and swallowing, he gave his assessment.
"It's not completely terrible. It sort of has a nutty flavor, but it is bad," he said. Senor Guerro was livid. How was it possible that Herr Pink could eat the food that he found disgusting with ease?
Bob, aka Senor Guerro, and Travis, aka Herr Pink, are the founding members of their food reviewing group, Cultmoo. They are pioneers in a new genre of low budget entertainment, the humorous food review video. In these types of videos, the talent tests a certain kind of food and gives his honest, uncensored opinion on it. There are several humorous food critics that have risen to prominence on Youtube, and they have eaten, and puked, their way into developing a cult following. Some reviewers tackle old cereals. Others challenge themselves to eat certain amounts of fast food within a given time limit. For Cultmoo, their specialty is canned goods, and their video series, "It Came From A Can," which they started in 2009, is now in its third season.
The Cultmoo duo -- Senor Guerro (L) and Herr Pink (Courtesy of Cultmoo)
In the series, the duo taste tests canned foods, giving their honest and uncensored opinions of the exotic delicacies (or horrors) that await inside.
"It started with bacon in a can that I had received as a Christmas present," Senor Guerro explains. "We filmed it and put it up because we thought it was a novel idea. We then decided to see what other strange things we could find."
To date, they have posted nearly 200 videos on their Youtube channel, and each video garners views numbering in the thousands. After their adventure with canned bacon, Cultmoo decided to try several other canned oddities like the German-made canned cheeseburger, Scottish haggis and different types of Asian canned goods. From the confines of their kitchen, they record every reaction from every food they review.
"There are quite a few foreign food stores in the area, particularly Asian markets," said Herr Pink when asked how they are able to get different food to review. "We also buy about at least half the items we review online and have received a few items from viewers."
Senor Guerro has the weaker stomach of the two.
"Herr Pink isn't human. He is a food destroying cyborg sent to the past. I on the other hand am not," he said.
Herr Pink said that maybe he "had more varieties of food as a kid," which is why he is able to eat so many different things. "I think our differing perspectives give the audience a better idea of how good or bad an item really is," he added.
Types of Asian food that are not common in the United States have made up the bulk of Cultmoo's reviews. While the only Korean-made food that they have reviewed is the aforementioned beondaegi, they have tried several cans and packaged foods from Japanese and Chinese makers that are commonly consumed in Korea, including quail eggs, dried squid and cuttlefish, and saewoo kkang (shrimp flavored chips). Both agreed that the saewoo kkang were good and enjoyed the quail eggs. Neither was a fan of the beondaegi and were mostly indifferent about the dried squid.
They understand that their reviews might be seen as offensive to people whose native cuisines they are reviewing. When asked about the possibility that they might offend others, Senor Guerro replied, "We all have our own likes and dislikes. I love artichoke hearts. Herr Pink on the other hand despises them with every fiber of his being. Nothing is intentionally said to offend."
Herr Pink added, "Nothing is meant personally, we just like to joke around. Skip to the next video and watch us offend someone else."
The integrity of the review is something they are not willing to compromise on. "The moment we censor anything is the moment we aren't giving an honest review," explained Herr Pink.
Cultmoo does have more Korean food in its future plans. They hope to review kimchi and soju in upcoming episodes and are sure to give their honest reaction to Korea's traditional side dish and popular alcoholic drink. They hope to learn more about Korean food through these taste tests.
"I haven't had too many real Korean dishes, there are a few restaurants out here, but I can't say how really authentic they are," said Herr Pink. "American restaurants have a tendency to make food more bland than it should be."
Even though the Korean government is heavily promoting the globalization of Korean food, in some sense, Cultmoo's reactions might be a little bit more believable.
Korean-born American Ambassador to Korea Sung Kim was able to avoid an international crisis while giving his honest opinion of hong-eo (fermented stingray) in a blog post that he authored. The ambassador was keen enough to praise other Korean foods before mildly saying that he was not interested in eating hong-eo.
The Cultmoo duo are not shackled by the same reigns that the ambassador might be, so "It Came From A Can" is likely in a better position to simply tell it like it is. In the new long-tail era of entertainment, the humorous food review genre could be on the verge of exploding into the mainstream consciousness.