Young Voices of New York

Food Styling

Gary J. Cichowski / The Chronicle
Food stylist Christine Jackson demonstrates how she uses tweezers to place sesame seeds on top of a hamburger bun.

Gary J. Cichowski / The Chronicle Food stylist Christine Jackson demonstrates how she uses tweezers to place sesame seeds on top of a hamburger bun.


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You’re watching a commercial for a restaurant. The food looks so perfect! You suddenly get a huge craving to go to that restaurant. But when you get there, the food looks nothing like it did on the advertisement.

So what makes the food look so good on the commercial?

My class participated in a videoconference with the Museum of Television and Radio about the art of persuasion. We learned that almost every fast food business and restaurant use something called “food styling.”

This makes the food look really good on a commercial, however most of the time it’s not even edible! Let’s use McDonald’s as an example.

We watched a video where a food stylist (someone who styles food to make it look good for an advertisement) was creating a very delicious looking McDonald’s hamburger.

Although the hamburger looked extremely tasty in the commercial, if you bought that at a real McDonald’s you would get food poisoning! When you look at the hamburger, you feel a strong craving and it looks very appetizing, but when you hear the steps involved, the process sounds really disgusting.

Even raw meat and fake smoke are included.

You might also be surprised to hear that mashed potatoes can be used for vanilla ice cream in advertisements, because mashed potatoes look soft, are similar in color, they’re easy to get a perfect scoop out of, and they don’t melt like real ice cream does.

Overall, my class and I learned a lot about the art of persuasion and food styling, and we had lots of fun learning about the details that go into food styling.

Now I know not to be persuaded by these advertisements, because when you go to the restaurant, it looks as if the food was just slapped on a plate!


Food stylist video

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Aimee Quinlan, Contributor

Aimee Quinlan, Contributor, Long Island


22 Responses to “Food Styling”

  1. Alyssa Gonzalez on June 1st, 2017 6:07 pm

    I know what you mean. Sometimes companies make food look delicious but you buy the food and you realize that you’ve wasted your money. Great article Aimee!!!

  2. Alyssa Gonzalez on June 1st, 2017 6:14 pm

    I watched the video and it seems like cheating that they “glue” the seeds to the burger bun and food color the burger!! I think this is unfair to innocent customers.

  3. Joey Shipley on June 2nd, 2017 8:58 am

    Great job. I remember watching the video and saying how disgusting the food looks.

  4. Amina Radoncic on June 2nd, 2017 6:34 pm

    Amazing job describing food styling! My class saw a nasty video about food styling and about how half of the items used in commercials are FAKE! Over all, great blog!

  5. Patrick Biondolillo on June 5th, 2017 12:57 pm

    Wow that is very fascinating fact that they actually don’t use the real food for the commercial! Amazing article!

  6. Patrick Biondolillo on October 26th, 2017 9:24 am

    I’m just adding that I would love to eat that burger… Even though I don’t like burgers.

  7. Kevin Tritschler on June 5th, 2017 1:02 pm

    I like this food styling article ALOT!!!!!!!!! I have a question too: What did they use as a replacement for the french fries?

  8. Arielle Yard on June 5th, 2017 1:07 pm

    Wow, very interesting ! Well, now I know not to be fooled by those commercials!

  9. Dori Chau on June 8th, 2017 12:48 pm

    Great Job! I watched a similar video of that and I was pretty shocked to find how creative food stylists are! After watching that video I never looked at a hamburger the same. I like how you included that they used mashed potatoes for ice cream.

  10. Cliff Cadet on June 8th, 2017 1:00 pm

    We did watched this video and I was amazed (And disgusted)! I knew that they didn’t cook the burgers all the way, but glue on sesame seeds, and mashed potatoes for ice cream?!?! That really got my attention. This review was great Aimee! 🙂

  11. Emily Nothdurft on June 8th, 2017 1:13 pm

    My class watched the video too. I cant believe that they,d use mashed potatoes for ice cream.

  12. Jaida Sinkler on June 8th, 2017 1:15 pm

    My enrichment group and I watched the same video and we thought it was horrible how they make the food seem one way on the commercial but once you buy it, it looks totally different than it did on the commercial.

  13. Sara Sierzega on June 9th, 2017 9:08 am

    I knew that sometimes ads use mashed potatoes as ice cream but I didn’t know most of the other things you talked about. Great job!

  14. Isabella Dewey on June 9th, 2017 9:13 am

    Did you now that that they use glue for the milk in cereal ads .

  15. Lonnie Creech on June 16th, 2017 12:58 pm

    Our enrichment teacher showed us this video and i was surprised. I didn’t know that food could look sooooo good. But its not food. They used glue for milk that isn’t right.

  16. Sara Sierzega on October 24th, 2017 1:28 pm

    I love this article! Now I am wondering what commercials like Mc Donald’s would look like if they didn’t use food styling…

  17. Asha Gajraj on October 24th, 2017 1:44 pm

    Wow!! I never knew that food in advertisements can be so awful!! Now I know not to be fooled by those ads!

  18. Kevin Tritschler on October 26th, 2017 9:26 am

    What is next? TOY styling?

  19. Michael Morcos on November 17th, 2017 10:25 am

    I agree that it’s not fair that people do that on ads and I think that because of that a law should be passed about doing that!!!!!!!!!!

  20. Elijah Rivette on November 17th, 2017 1:59 pm

    I know what your saying. Food is actually very different looking from the food from the commercial and they use it to make you use your money on some food that doesn’t even look good anymore and they use materials to make the food look better on TV to make you come. But I’m just letting you know that this video actually made me very hungry. So am I the only person who got hungry reading this? LOL

  21. Johnathan Greene on November 21st, 2017 1:43 pm

    Great review. I used to LOVE McDonalds and I still do. But once I ate some and I threw up. I threw up that delicious tasty food.:( Anyway, thanks for informing me about food poisoning with food styling. I will be careful what I eat at restaurants. Again awesome review.

  22. Ryan Cheng on November 22nd, 2017 9:51 am

    Very true, but, I never got food poisoned at MCDONALDS.

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Food Styling