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A brief history of Unboxing

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Part of the new Museum of the Moving Image exhibit

Unboxing videos capture the unique excitement of opening a new package and exploring the contents, while providing useful first-impressions about the quality of a product. From hyper-focused tech unboxing to the broad survey of makeup and clothes in haul videos, these videos provide an engaging emotional experience for the audience.

Though the genre pre-dates YouTube, channels that specialize in the process have found a lucrative home on the platform. Toy Unboxing channels like DisneyCollection BR have been able to harness YouTube’s search and suggestion algorithms to amass millions of views — and millions of dollars. Unboxing videos have even had an impact on how companies package and promote products, as evidenced by the rise of carefully designed subscription boxes. Watch the video above to learn more about the history of Unboxing videos.

As part of an exhibition for The Museum of the Moving Image in New York, Polygon created a series of videos breaking down genres in the age of YouTube, including ASMR, Unboxing, Explainers, Let’s Play, Reaction videos and Vlogging. The exhibit, titled “The New Genres: Video in the Internet Age,” runs April 27 through Sept. 2.