This paper describes a method for obtaining detailed information about the velocities, directions and relative forces involved in mastication, and how these change throughout the chewing sequence, from combined electromyograph and kinematic records in human subjects. Differences in the temporal breakdown patterns of apple, carrot and biscuit are highlighted. Mastication of apple and carrot relied on vertical compression for each chew, with decreasing effort applied over the course of the chewing sequence. Differences between these products were related principally to the chewing effort exerted. For biscuit, compression was the predominant mechanism of breakdown in early chews but this was transferred to a shear action over the course of the sequence.