"Breakfast Challenge" Is TikTok's Most Delicious Soundtrack
Egg dishes are often the stars of internet video breakfast challenges. There's always some chopping, whisking, and plating, but the ones with the most likes and views tend to include a body roll or a shoulder shimmy. In fact, millions of people have viewed, liked, or shared a meme using "Breakfast Challenge," a percussive track by Spence, a Los Angeles–based DJ and actor. The song samples the cacophony of dicing, eggs cracking, and sizzling. Spence adds handclaps and clanging pots to an acoustic guitar hook as the backdrop for a perfect omelet filled with onions and cilantro and topped with a lighted birthday candle.
Since Spence dropped "Breakfast Challenge" in 2019, it has become the soundtrack for thousands of food-prep videos for dishes around the world. Users sync the sounds of bubbles, glugs, and steam to clips of korma simmering in India, crêpes being folded in France, and myriad things being smeared on toast everywhere.
"Anyone else find the egg cracking most satisfying?" asks a user in one of thousands of comments on TikTok. "Breakfast Challenge" is a put-your-All-Clad-in-the-air kind of bop, but it also adds that unmistakable aural layer of information that we experience while cooking, like the rap of a sheet pan on the counter or the pop of garlic sweating in olive oil. Spence's music helps to visualize that satisfying crackle of a chicharrón in a cast-iron skillet or the scratch of nutmeg against a Microplane grater, commonly known as ASMR, or autonomous sensory meridian response. It's basically hashtag-speak for audiovisual stimulation.
On TikTok, users add their own twists to Spence's music, tapping their forks against bowls while making boxed cake, allowing newly opened club soda to whisper and fizz, and timing their gas burners to sounds of lighter flicks. Short-form food video evolves quickly as users add dashes of their own creativity; some feature full recipes and cooking instructions, while others demonstrate artistic interpretations of ingredients.
Yasmin Art Drawing (@yasminartdrawing), a TikTok account of line drawings with more than 13 million followers, features stop-motion videos of tomatoes being chopped, cookies spreading across a pan, and pizza being made, all set to "Breakfast Challenge." And in Moscow, Terem Vkusa (@teremvkusa) combines Spence's beats with the internet sensation of cooking in picayune kitchens, showing off with a tiny omelet and dollhouse-size pan.
These videos are not only binge-worthy; they are inspiring. They draw the user to stop, scroll through their camera roll, and try to align snippets of a supremed orange drip-drip-dripping into a coupe, a spatula plunking a blob of honey into a mason jar, or the cooling breath before a sip of a hot drink.
In his weekly YouTube series Eat This with Yara, James Beard Award–nominated journalist Yara Elmjouie guides viewers by offering context for the politics that underscore what, how, and why we eat.
Flavorful Origins has thankfully returned for a third season on Netflix. These 12-minute episodes focus on Chinese cooking.