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September 3, 2009 7:53 PM   Subscribe

Junk Food in Real Life
posted by ThePinkSuperhero (39 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
Isn't there a law or something that says pictures on the packaging have to be shots of the actual product? So photographers end up getting hundreds of samples of the product to find the best parts. I may be imaging this, however, because the internet is not finding me any references.
posted by mrnutty at 8:04 PM on September 3, 2009


I don't really think we need to re-hash the "processed food doesn't look like the ad photos of processed food" thing, but even if we do, there are only 11 freakin' entries.
posted by paisley henosis at 8:07 PM on September 3, 2009


Advertising idealises food. Film at eleven.

Someone needs to start a blog about food that does look like it appears on the packet. Now that would be original.
posted by fearthehat at 8:08 PM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


I think one would have to be a moron to think the product ever looks like the package. What is the big suprise here?
posted by shockingbluamp at 8:08 PM on September 3, 2009


I've said it before and I'll say it again:

It takes A LOT of money to create the obviously manufactured images. Photographer, stylist, food stylist, art director, ad agency, creative director, client, retouchers, printers, plus all their assistants and expenses (studio, transportation, equipment rental, etc).

It takes a minimal amount of money to manufacture the food itself - in fact they probably have a team of food scientists working to make that pizza taste acceptably good using as little money as possible.

Take it from me - 99% of the 'photos' you see everywhere are in fact photoillustrations. Look at what the NYTimes sent to all its photographers the other day:

In some sections, and in magazines, where a photograph is used to serve the same purposes as a commissioned drawing or painting - as an illustration of an idea or situation or as a demonstration of how a device works, etc. - it must always be clearly labeled as a photo illustration. This does not apply to portraits or still-lifes (photos of food, shoes, etc.), but it does apply to other kinds of shots in which we have artificially arranged people or things, as well as to collages, montages, and photographs that have been digitally altered.

IE portraits, still life (including food), and fashion are all OK to digitally modify and still fall under the definition of 'photo.' Take a moment to let that sink in. The NYTimes admits that all of their portraits, still life, and fashion photographs are heavily manipulated. But news shots can't be manipulated. What?!?!? Is it any wonder that things like this happen?

The FoodIRL blog is a cute gimmick only because the food looks like shit and photographs are intentionally terrible, but honestly? Its the tip of the photographic iceberg.
posted by infinitefloatingbrains at 8:15 PM on September 3, 2009


Taste: Who cares how it looks? The Culver’s ButterBurger is the single best fast-food hamburger in America. I’ve had McDonald’s, Burger King, Hardee’s, Carl’s Jr., Wendy’s, A&W, In-N-Out, Lion’s Tap, and many others, and none of them top Culver’s.

But it sounds kinda gross. I mean, a butter burger?
posted by delmoi at 8:21 PM on September 3, 2009


Is it any wonder that things like this happen?
--I suspect the NYT letter was partly spurred by that very incident (i.e. the one detailed in your link), and thus meant as clarification lest any other photographers submit certain kinds of digitally enhanced images without clearly labeling them as such.

Take a moment to let that sink in.
--I don't find the fact that most non-news images are manipulated at all surprising. It's been the norm for a long time now, and I would find it much more surprising to find anyone who is not aware of this.

posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 8:34 PM on September 3, 2009


But it sounds kinda gross. I mean, a butter burger?

It's probably the best cheeseburger I have ever eaten. Tragically, I only learned of Culver's earlier this year, a few months before I moved 1800 miles away, to a sadly Culver's-free part of the country
posted by JeffL at 8:34 PM on September 3, 2009


Tragically, I only learned of Culver's earlier this year, a few months before I moved 1800 miles away, to a sadly Culver's-free part of the country

Man, I know the feeling. I had almost forgotten about Culver's since I moved out east. But I sure could go for a ButterBurger right now.
posted by mathlete at 8:40 PM on September 3, 2009


How could you (almost) forget about Culver's!?! Butterburgers and Custard...Flavor of the Day or a Carmel Cashew sundae. Cheese Curds. Custard. And generally nice, friendly, and helpful employees helping you reach culverized nirvana.

Steaks often have a bit of butter on them, so why not burgers?
posted by BlooPen at 8:51 PM on September 3, 2009


If there is someone who expects their cheap-ass pre-made junk food to look just like the picture on the waxy box, raise your hand.

I didn't think so.
posted by kozad at 8:54 PM on September 3, 2009


The most heinous examples of this are also the most awesome. Namely, Whenever there's a commercial where they show the totally fictional way in which the product is made. I'm thinking specifically of a significant amount of candy bar commercials where the chocolate coating process is done by shooting the bar through a chocolate waterfall, in slow motion. That just doesn't seem cost-effective to me.

If there is someone who expects their cheap-ass pre-made junk food to look just like the picture on the waxy box, raise your hand.

It always seemed accurate to me. I always eat my cereal with a grapefruit, toast with jam, a glass of orange juice, a glass of milk, and a second grapefruit. But I think that's just because I'm not a goddamned savage.
posted by Uppity Pigeon #2 at 9:06 PM on September 3, 2009 [11 favorites]


Damn. Next you're gonna tell me that Kelly Clarkson doesn't look the same on magazine covers as she does in real life either.

When will this madness end!?!?
posted by spilon at 9:13 PM on September 3, 2009


I have to say that I would be upset if I bought a dozen eggs and one of them was actually a Christmas Alien Egg.
posted by queensissy at 9:20 PM on September 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


the pop-tart doesn’t actually fly through the air

i'll concede that a pop tart won't fly on its own, but given proper encouragement and a good flick of the wrist you can most definitely get one to fly.
posted by mexican at 9:24 PM on September 3, 2009


Are there any microwaveable chicken based meals out there that are edible? I used to eat a lot of Marie Callendar's as it was decent and quick, but then they reformulated the product line and replaced the passable chicken in their entrees with the same rancid gummy chemical glop that other frozen dinner companies use as chicken.
posted by bunnytricks at 9:30 PM on September 3, 2009


Isn't there a law or something that says pictures on the packaging have to be shots of the actual product?

I used to do a little food writing, and if I recall correctly: At the very least, the photo has to be of actual food. The photographers and food stylists can't use, say, Elmer's glue for milk, or plaster for ice cream. That results in some pretty gross recipes, like sundaes made of dyed mashed potatoes covered in chocolate syrup mixed with thickeners, but technically, you could eat it all right up.
posted by hifiparasol at 9:30 PM on September 3, 2009


I remember reading an article about food styling when I was a kid. It was in Zillions Magazine (which was basically Consumer Reports for kids) and I grew up knowing that those buns are propped up with toothpicks, fakery goes on, and the milk in cereal photos is often white glue. In those milk ads, the mustaches are usually sour cream or yogurt because milk doesn't photograph well.

And when we go to fast food places, we kind of already know from the moment we get our first happy meal that things aren't always as pictured. In fact, 95% of the time, it looks nothing like the picture.

But anyone who likes cooking will know that making the same dish over and over doesn't turn out looking exactly the same every time either. That's why food styling was born.
posted by cmgonzalez at 9:32 PM on September 3, 2009


Secrets of a Food Stylist [video | 04:26].
posted by ericb at 9:48 PM on September 3, 2009


But it sounds kinda gross. I mean, a butter burger?

Butter=Good. Burger=Good.

Butter Burger=Fantastic.
posted by kylej at 9:49 PM on September 3, 2009


Styling food for photos [video | 02:35].
posted by ericb at 9:54 PM on September 3, 2009


"The most heinous examples of this are also the most awesome. Namely, Whenever there's a commercial where they show the totally fictional way in which the product is made. I'm thinking specifically of a significant amount of candy bar commercials where the chocolate coating process is done by shooting the bar through a chocolate waterfall, in slow motion. That just doesn't seem cost-effective to me."

Have you ever watched "Unwrapped" on the food network? Almost any candy that has any kind of candy goes through a waterfall of whatever the coating is. Fast and efficient, if you recycle the stuff that doesn't hit the candy.
posted by 3FLryan at 9:55 PM on September 3, 2009


er, any candy that has any kind of coating
posted by 3FLryan at 9:56 PM on September 3, 2009


We already have This is why you're fat. I suggest the site in question here be renamed to This is why you have cancer, dumbass.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:04 PM on September 3, 2009


I hate to look like I might be defending fast food in any way, but a little level adjustment would do foodirl.com's photos a world of good. If that food looks gray, it's at least partially because the person taking the photographs is no photographer.
posted by lekvar at 10:06 PM on September 3, 2009


This has already been done. Looks like plagerism to me.
posted by wv kay in ga at 10:22 PM on September 3, 2009


I was expecting some smarmy riffing on fast-food culture so was pleasantly surprised to find pretty straight-forward, albeit dry, reviews. But Jesus, the pic for Stuffed Chicken Breasts is bringing back memories from yesterday's alien egg.
posted by Partario at 10:57 PM on September 3, 2009


Have you ever watched "Unwrapped" on the food network? Almost any candy that has any kind of coating goes through a waterfall of whatever the coating is.

Whoa, really? That's awesome. You totally just made my day. Just tell me that fast food hamburgers are actually made by trained chefs, slicing lettuce in slow motion, and I'll sleep like a baby all week.

If that's now possible, at least tell me that Olive Garden is the epitome of Italian cuisine. My Italian relatives keep trying to serve me "wedding soup" and I'm all like, whoa, what the fuck? Where are my breadsticks?
posted by Uppity Pigeon #2 at 1:23 AM on September 4, 2009


There's only one thing to do now... run up and down lots of corridors!
posted by TheophileEscargot at 1:31 AM on September 4, 2009


Oops, wrong thread.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 1:34 AM on September 4, 2009


I remember on a documentary about advertising (fairly sure it was the Brooker screenwipe special) where they had an insider talking... there's some guy who specialises in shooting those pizza slice shots where there's strings of melted cheese going from the slice to the pizza proper. He makes a lot of money.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 2:09 AM on September 4, 2009


Oops, wrong thread.

No, that was perfect, actually.
posted by jbickers at 3:53 AM on September 4, 2009


cmgonzalez: is it possible that the article was also in 3-2-1 Contact? I got that magazine and I definitely remember an article about how they used Elmer's glue as milk and that it took someone an hour to arrange the sesame seeds on top of a McDonald's hamburger bun for an ad.

That was actually a really interesting moment for me as it was completely plausible that glue looked better than milk but it had never occurred to me that the actual placement of seeds on the bun would have any sort of effect. It got me thinking about how and why that would matter and how you could figure out something like the best way to arrange the seeds.

God damn, 3-2-1 Contact was a great magazine.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 6:05 AM on September 4, 2009


They did a food shoot in a pretty room in our house when I was a greedy guts teenager (my younger brother was even worse). They were throwing out everything at the end of the day, so we "rescued" the showpiece - a pavlova - basically a huge meringue desert -gorgeously drizzled with fresh passion fruit. We tucked in & found they'd fixed the fruit in place with an entire can of hairspray. It was the vomitous shock of our lives.
posted by Jody Tresidder at 6:15 AM on September 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


Uncle Ben's rice is junk food?
posted by jeremy b at 6:48 AM on September 4, 2009


Advertising idealises food. Film at eleven.

Someone needs to start a blog about food that does look like it appears on the packet. Now that would be original.


Did you actually look at the content on this site? Or did you just jump to a conclusion after glancing at its premise? I ask because most of the commentary suggests that the real-world counterparts are in fact quite close to how they appear on the packaging.
posted by jeremy b at 7:19 AM on September 4, 2009


I was surprised at how close some of them actually got -- but then the Lean Cuisine was predictably disappointed (there's a reason I think those boxed dinners are vile and the way they look out of the box does not help one bit).
posted by bitter-girl.com at 8:09 AM on September 4, 2009


I know I've seen a site with the same concept recently, perhaps linked on the blue somewhere. It might have been this, maybe?

And honestly, the "reality" pictures often make me hungrier than the pretty ads. Look at how melty that cheese is on the Wendy's Chicken Club! The swirls of fatty flavor mingling in the KFC bowl! There's no point showing me squished bread-blobs of fast-food sandwiches. I have seen those bread-blobs, eaten them, and associated them with deliciousness.

Also, I love the frosting/chocolate/donut glaze waterfalls. It's my dream to visit a candy factory and slide through one of those a la Crocodile Mile.
posted by Metroid Baby at 12:41 PM on September 4, 2009


I'm super glad someone decided to take a very popular blog meme about how advertisements for food are inaccurate compared to the real deal, and make a 2 page tumblog out of it.
posted by shownomercy at 2:07 PM on September 4, 2009


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