Watching sprinkles videos is a welcome break from the headlines.

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Sprinkles
Credit: Michelle Patrick / EyeEm / Getty Images

It is common advice that, when you’re feeling stressed out by the onslaught of information on your phone, you should probably step away from that insidious device. It makes sense: you can't stop poisoning your body by ingesting more poison. And yet it is advice that I continuously fail to take, as I endlessly scroll through various feeds, attempting to find something soothing amidst the posts. It was during one of said scrolling sessions, thanks to a nudge from Food & Wine contributor Rupa Bhattacharya, that I discovered the delights of sprinkles Instagram.

Sprinkles are one of those ingredients that are, to me, inherently pleasing. No one buys them because they taste amazing—or at least, most varieties of sprinkles I’ve tried primarily taste like crunchy sugar nothing. But they’re colorful and bright and indicate a special occasion, or at least the presence of a baked good underneath. Watching videos of people mixing together different sprinkle combinations is as mesmerizing as passively observing a lava lamp, or the endless geometric screensavers of the mid-aughts. The current wave of sprinkles enthusiasm is, no doubt, propelled by equal parts childhood nostalgia and the quest for food that looks good on Instagram, helped along with institutions like The Museum of Ice Cream where, famously, patrons can swim in a pool full of fake sprinkles. Thanks to a wave of bespoke sprinkles companies like Neon Yolk and Fancy Sprinkles, there is more online sprinkle content than ever before.

Sprinkles these days come in more forms than the multi-colored oblong jimmies that graced the ice cream cones of my youth. The mixes include tiny stars and metallic spheres, as well as novelty shapes like hearts and stars, and edible glitter. Photos that showcase new sprinkle mixes, or baked goods featuring the sprinkling of sprinkles are the most common variety of sprinkles Instagram. But the most satisfying posts, to me, are videos showing a spoon digging into a pile of sprinkles, lifting them out, and slowly letting them pour back into the pile. It’s almost a kind of ASMR, those videos of seemingly mundane tasks, like crinkling wrapping paper or whispering to the camera, that have a relaxing effect for some people. (There is, in fact, one Youtube ASMR video of someone whispering different flavors as they stir a container of sprinkles.)

A sprinkles video tickles the same part of my brain that a well-organized wall of school supplies or a craft store’s infinite colors of embroidery floss does—it contains the chaotic marketplace of the internet and makes it look like potential. Why look at headlines that feel like an endless ticker tape of doom when you can see cupcakes being doused in sprinkles, and imagining that your hand is raining down all that joy?