Chinese people are hiring others to consume tasty food on their behalf.
If you love eating and drinking for free and are looking to make some pocket money, there's a job in China with your name on it. A new type of online service allows people to hire others to eat or drink their favorite treats, either to cure their boredom or satisfy their cravings without the calories that usually come with it.
Chinese media recently reported on an increasingly popular service on online platform Taobao that's as mind-boggling as it is intriguing. People can now go online and hire others to consume certain foods and drinks, and ask them to provide video evidence of them eating or drinking the said treats.
Fees usually range from two to nine yuan($0.30 - $1.35) plus the cost of the food. It's not exactly a get-rich-quick job, but there are quite a lot of people willing to do it for the free treats alone.
"Bubble tea drinking" is a particularly popular service, as the chewy tapioca balls and popping boba drink is all the rage in Asia these days, but there are also ads from people willing to eat fried chicken or hot pot for anyone willing to pay for them.
Advertised as being "fat-free" and "free of queues", those who pay for the service will receive the full experience, which includes a 360-degree video of the drink, photos, and a detailed description. Prices of the service are based on the drink's sweetness level, its price, and popularity. Some clients even require a short written review and the activation of the stream time stamp to be sure that the person they hired actually does what they are supposed to.
One seller in Harbin, Heilongjiang province in Northeastern China, sent a journalist from Pear Video several videos of a grape-flavored bubble tea from different angles, along with a short essay describing its taste.
"The crisp and chewy textures meld together...the deep purple grapes taste sweet and rich. I like to use a straw to drink the ice cream topping which is light and refreshing, with a faint milky aroma."
Other sellers explained that most customers buy their service because they're bored at night or trying to shake off cravings while they're on a diet. Drinking bubble tea by proxy may help customers avoid high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and other health problems that the sugar-laden drink may cause, sellers said.
The trend has also spawned nonsensical spin-offs such as selling videos of pet owners stroking their animals and people watching TV series on behalf of others. One person in Harbin even offered to sell photos of buyers' names written in the heavy snow that had blanketed the area.
But a backlash has also arrived in the form of joke product listings for "lessons" costing 0.05-0.5 yuan, accompanied by a bank robber cartoon meme.
"Hello, I am a fraudster and for 0.2 yuan you can be duped!" read the description of one listing still available online.
So why would anyone pay a total stranger to indulge in a treat rather than consume it themselves? Well, apparently, the online service is so cheap that some people simply do it out of boredom, while others get satisfaction from watching others enjoy their favorite treats.
This indulging-by-proxy service has received a lot of attention on social media in China, with some people describing it as the job of their dreams, and others suggesting similar compensation for sleeping on the client's behalf.
"How about sleeping? You play video games all night and I help you make up for it by sleeping on your behalf," one person commented on Sina Weibo.
"Finally, the job meant for me," someone else wrote.