Food in the Media: Is what you see what you get?
By Kaitlin T
Picture this: You are watching television and a commercial comes on for your favorite fast food chain. The waitress brings out a juicy hamburger with all your favorite toppings. Your mouth begins to water as you hear a voice describe the sizzling, smoky burger with hot French fries and a cold chocolate shake. Little do you know, this is all an act.
I asked my classmate, Maria, a sophomore at Binghamton High School, how she felt about food advertisements. Maria says that, although she knows the products are not depicted as they appear in real-life, a commercial with sizzling fries still makes her want to eat there!
Fact: Lime Life researchers state that some burgers in food commercials are products of real sit down restaurants and are placed into a thick bun (also not a product of the fast food chain). The pickles, cheese, ketchup, and other condiments are strategically placed so that they are sticking out of the edges and are all showing. Some commercials digitally alter the food and hand paint it. For example, Larry Woodard, who was interviewed by ABCNews, described an experience working on the set of a candy commercial.
“On a table were two foot-long candy bar models that had been carefully fabricated out of plastic to make sure they matched the “hero” (or hand-made to be perfect) candy bars we had been provided by the manufacturer…. On the counter were several hand-manufactured candy bars and two food stylists were working with paint brushes and various jars containing liquids, artfully creating smooth delectable-looking chocolate.”
Fast food chains and candy ads aren’t the only deceiving false advertisers. Weight loss food programs show in their ads as big meal with delicious sides, breads, desserts, and vegetables. Yet, in very fine print at the bottom, the only thing they supply is the small piece of chicken or the little bowl of soup pictured above. The company dresses up and overdoes the meals because if people see the yummy-looking meal, they will be too distracted to see the fine print at the bottom.
But do all people agree that food should be falsely advertised? Jenna D and Karley R, two 12th graders at Binghamton High School, say, “Yes, most people agree, and even think it’s gross because sometimes the food isn’t even real. It’s plastic, painted and tampered with and it shouldn’t be advertised that way.” Although most people know that food ads in general are altered in a sense to make it look more appealing, some say they simply do not care, and that they would buy the product anyways. Denise Gillan, an ASL teacher at Binghamton High School admits, “I’ll be honest, if I see a commercial with something that looks yummy, and I’m hungry, I’ll buy it. Maybe not right then, but I might try it out in the future, or remember it and when I see it, I’ll impulse buy.”
In conclusion, opinions vary from person to person. Even though some may think it is disturbing that the media alters food in ads and commercials, they still might consider buying the product. Put yourself in a similar situation. What would you do?