Let's Talk About

The Chew

9 years ago by

The Chew

I never went to etiquette school, but I often wonder if maybe it should be required…. Even one class!?

Since I can remember, I’ve always had this annoyance with hearing people chew. Erik can attest that I actually have terrible hearing (perhaps an annoyance for him), so this whole thing is pretty odd. I’m not sure what it is – the actual sound certain chewers make? Knowing that food is being broken down by a tiny food processor known as your teeth? Or the fact that the person doesn’t realize just how loud they are?

What I’m left with are too many scenarios where I thought I might lose it if I had to hear another bite! And now, I love my mom – but even her gum snapping habits drove me crazy growing up. And to the person in the elevator with the headphones on blasting classic rock (you know who I mean) that seems to be smacking something in their mouth… No words.

Is there a polite way to say something? Should I start carrying noise canceling earphones? Or am I doomed to live life hearing what people are having for lunch??


Add yours
  • Laurence D April, 29 2015, 12:24 / Reply

    C’est atroce pour moi aussi, mais je n’ai pas encore trouvé de réponse subtile et efficace. Si ce n’est pourrir la vie des enfants autour de moi qui mangent bouche ouverte!
    Aussi terrible pour moi, entendre les gens déglutir en avalant leur café… ca me rend hystérique

  • Sounds like a case of misophonia. Yes, it’s a thing :) There’s even a very helpful reddit about it.

  • hahah maybe! is it weirder that I’m ok with it?

  • I have the same pet peeve! Some of my closest friends do it, and one time it nearly ruined a vacation (it sounds petty, but imagine being in close quarters with someone 24/7, which can already grind on one’s nerves but then you add the chewing… THE CHEWING). Anyway, I’ve never figured out a way to politely let the other person know without offending them. Ultimately, you’d be doing them a favor, like telling someone they have food in their teeth, but this problem in particular is trickier, in that it implies more than just cluelessness but also a lack of manners or sophistication. And what if no one else has a problem with it, and I am just being hyper-sensitive?? Ugh, better to not say anything at all?

  • My sister has the same pet peeve – just stare people down like she does ;)

    Warm Regards,
    www. Little Wild Heart .com

  • I feel your pain. My coworker eats chips with her mouth open. It’s horrendously loud and yeah, it sounds like an animal. She’s nicknamed Crunchosaurus.

  • I think Noise canceling earphones are a good idea!


  • I feel the same, but I’m not sure its really about the chewing.

    A dog or a child chewing loudly is the very sound of happiness. My mom not so much (yeah, she chews loudly, mouth open and all). I suspect she’s just comfortable and informal around me, but that can feel inconsiderate. Somehow it’s hurtful. The solution would be to make her more mindful of my presence, maybe by taking her out for a nice dinner. Telling her to stop would only cause embarrassment and possibly louder chewing.

    Alternatively you’re hanging out with people who have different priorities or values from you, in which case its really about you accepting their full individual selves or moving on. But again its more about you…

  • therese April, 29 2015, 3:19 / Reply

    I may have to try the noise cancelling earphones. I can’t stand movie theatres because of all the popcorn chompers. Don’t even get me started on gum snappers. You are not alone.

  • I hate when people chew loud


  • Glad I’m not alone in this. People eating chips is the one that gets me the most. My head feels like it’s going to explode when I listen to it .

  • I hate it to my guts!

  • I am so with you on that! It is so hard to bear – especially in the morning or situations when I a already stressed~
    and the more I care about & love a person the more it annoys me…

    until I, on rare occasions, snap & tell them to chew silently… which comes as a shock to most & I feel bad about snapping immediatly~

  • Kimberly April, 29 2015, 5:14 / Reply

    One of my personal hells, too. I used to chew gum, and now even the sight of someone chewing gum grosses me out. Its like a cow chewing its cud. How are you at the movie theater? It doesn’t bother me as much, but maybe because there a bunch of other annoying things happening there, too!

  • I’m with you!! It’s when I’m trying to concentrate at work or am reading that when someone makes noise while eating (slurping, chewing, crinkling of the lunch packaging) that my nerves can’t take it! I have a coworker who daily eats at his desk, and I hear the unwrapping of the lunch, the scrape-scrape-scrape of the spoon against the yogurt container, and the chewing sounds of eating his lunch. I’m not far away wanting to hold my hands over my hears. I just think “every day! every day this happens!” I am also in an office where two people regularly burst into song, hum, whistle, and/or drum on the countertops. Oblivious to others around them who might be concentrating. I thought it was just my sensitive ears. Glad to know I’m not alone.

  • Literally my biggest pet peeve. I just stare at people (who already know of my annoyance with their chewing) or have to put up with it. But I swear I have lost it on some people before.

  • I’m so happy i’m reading this post and the comments. I am relieved as i thought I was a nut. All of these comments are helpful and I thought I was just being annoying. Makes me feel better there are more ppl out there with the same peeve. I literally hear people chew and when my near family/friend do it I get more annoyed and I say something lightly and with a stranger or a colleague I just stare. Some colleagues know me better now and they do it to freak me out. At times it gets so annoying I just want to get up and b#@ slap them. HAHAHAH then I will be fired on the spot likely. It came so far that it was one of the main reasons i decided to work on my own as a freelancer. It really disgusts me, especially ppl that chew with their mouth open. Kids humming and eating I don’t get upset about but grown adults should know better.

  • melissaleehealing April, 29 2015, 7:27 / Reply

    It’s called peri menopause!

  • The smell of another person eating food on public transport. Can’t it wait, just a few more stops? The sound is one thing, but the smell, especially when I have no appetite. Yiiiuck!

  • This is all I think about since my housemate moved in.
    It doesn’t only annoy me but I lose my appetite :,(

  • Dominica April, 30 2015, 1:58 / Reply

    Some people (like myself) are over sensitive to sound(s) ; when the sounds are linked back to negative emotions (from your childhood for example) they may cause anger, hatred and even disgust. This disorder is called “misophonia” ; as long as you don’t suffer avoidance behavior or anxiety, it’s ok. If it triggers unwanted feelings like anger, disgust etc .. then it can be really hard for this person and therapy is recommended. It’s all about linking these sounds back to positive vibes, memories, music ..

    I totally understand Garance, I really dislike people (especially men) making these horrid sounds ; I guess I haven’t found a polite way in expressing how it makes me feel. People close to me however, get the full package and know I hate slurping, throat-clearing etc sounds and I just tell them I am disgusted by it, in their face, eventually, they do the same in making these sounds, right ?

  • haha, this is so funny! I feel your pain, bad table manners are THE WORST.

  • I thought I had a problem to think this is such an annoying habit. So finally I’m not odd, it’s kind to difficult to get use to loudly chewing.

  • I get you. I’ the same. And what about people making that annoting GLUP when they swallow?????? I HATE it. I can’t stand it. Arrrrggg!!!

  • Oh yes…that one.

    I sometimes am quite ready to commit murder when I hear my children eat.

    I won’t…but I do feel like it.

  • Rebecca April, 30 2015, 9:00 / Reply

    I’ve been on the other end of this issue. Not for chewing, but apparently I occasionally gulp when I drink. I wasn’t aware of it until my fiancé called me out after dinner with his family. He mentioned that it drove him nuts and that his extremely critical brothers would probably talk about it behind my back. Thanks, dear. So now when I have dinner with his family, it feels like when you’re trying to tiptoe through the house because everyone is sleeping and you inevitably knock pots and pans off the counter, break a vase, and step on every creaky board in the entire house. So if you are okay with making your loved ones feel so uncomfortable dining with you that they’d rather come down with a violent flu to avoid the situation, by all means, tell them how you feel. If you enjoy their company and the chewing is something you can deal with, I wouldn’t say a word. Your words may turn out to be much more obnoxious than their chewing. :)

  • I have exactly the same problem! When someone offer me a chewing gum, i answer: “no thank you, i don’t like Chewing gum” and if he ask me “why?” I answer “because i personally don’t like when i hear people chewing”.

  • Stephanie April, 30 2015, 12:31 / Reply

    I have to agree with Rebecca. It sounds like you have misophonia – and I am actually married to someone who has it! The thing about misophonia is, as much as it is a diagnosed problem relating to stress, anxiety, and even childhood trauma, it is not an excuse to allow the problem to go on, and try to silence everyone around you because of it. In my relationship, I’ve found that the best method is communication when needed, sometimes putting on the radio helps, and ultimately a realization of other people’s needs over ourselves.

  • Have the same problem. It’s pretty bad, those chewing smacking sounds. http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Misophonia

  • I suffer from the same issue. I was delighted to learn a few months ago that not only am I not a freak for suffering from “mouth noises” (as I have always referred to it) but in fact there is an actual condition and it has a name: Misophonia. There was a great NYTimes post about it.

  • Je compatis ! Quand je connais assez bien la personne, je le dis clairement ! Sinon vive les écouteurs ou alors la TV en bruit de fond ou tout autre bruit qui me permet de ne pas péter un plomb ahahah

  • I am a “mature woman.” But I sat next to someone on a subway one day who popped her gum so insistently – well, I just HAD to. I jammed a stick of gum in my mouth, and never closed my mouth while I chewed. At all. And looked around “oblivious” and smiled at everyone. The woman moved! LOL!

    I don’t know if other attempts would be successful – in fact, I might get hassled – but this one instance worked and, I hope, provided a laugh.

  • Hi Suze! Serves her right! hahah – love this story.

  • Hmm, misophonia is just a fancy formulaic “create-a-Latin-phrase” application to “miso” (chewing or mastication I’m guessing) + “fear or dislike of” (phobia). In other words, a “phobia” it may be, but not to the point of a disorder. Put it another way: I have moderate thanatophobia. Pretttty normal and in fact healthy to have this “phobia”. You all probably do, too. Um, not a disorder. People seem to lose grasp of that difference.So B, you are fine, nothing crazy unless if takes you to the point where you kill someine for it I guess! (Don’t do that.) And I am so with you. I have found that chewing with the mouth open is poor table manners akin to talking with food in your mouth and unless I am hallucinating, I am pretty certain this standard is a cultural norm for most Western countries. (Heck, Jains are morally bound to chew with the mouth closed,so as not to accidentally ingest a fly or bug. My Jain friend may have been pulling my chain on that one, but it is consistent with the non-violence principle around which the religion seems built.) The bright side is that I never waste tons of money on food when dining out nor do I overeat because I instantly lose my appetite when seeing masticated food in my dining partners’ mouth. Sometimes, if I feel the urge to speak while mid-chew, I will cover my mouth to briefly respond; the more sensitive and observant of these open-mouth chewers seem to notice and mirror the action. THE END.

From the Archives

This or That
  • This or That
  • Holiday Gifting
  • Happy Holidays!
  • #AtelierDoreDoes
  • How To...
atelier dore this or that summer sandals chunky sandals vs. delicate sandals

This or That / Sandal Edition

This or That: American or Française?

This or That: American or Française?

atelier dore this or that lingerie lace or cotton sex month

This or That / Lingerie Edition

This or That / Blush vs. Bronzer

This or That / Blush vs. Bronzer

This or That: The Beanie

This or That: The Beanie

This or That: Nails

This or That: Nails

This or That

This or That

This Or That

This Or That

Silja Danielsen Photo

This Or That: Low Knot or Top Knot