Food Porn and How It Affects People’s Brains

We all know that we eat with our eyes first. I’ve said it plenty of times before. But did you know that there’s a movement that takes this entire premise to a whole different level? I’m talking about food porn. But what’s food porn? How does it even work? How can you use it to your advantage?

We’ll be answering all of these questions, so read on.

What Does Food Porn Mean?

Despite its seemingly risqué name, food porn is a relatively simple concept. Basically, it’s the use of imagery, whether photos or videos of food, to trigger people’s hunger or cravings. The food presented in food porn is arranged in such a way that it shows a lot of appeals, prioritizing a more delicious look rather than something that’s realistic or even healthy. Many people who work in restaurant menu marketing or Instagram marketing use such imagery to invoke hunger and craving for the product they’re trying to promote.

But what makes food porn so effective at it?

How Does Food Porn Affect Our Brain?

During the mid-1900’s, a Dutch researcher named Nikolaas Tinbergen discovered a strange behavior amongst many of the animals he was studying. He found that regardless of what species they were, the animals he experimented on preferred food items or parts of their habitat that were generally flashier or more attention-grabbing than what could be naturally found in nature. 

Mother birds, for example, would ignore their own nests filled with their own eggs when they came across a different, much larger nest filled with more colorful, fake eggs. The Dutch biologist also found that these birds would prioritize feeding fake chicks that had more colorful beaks than their own chicks with duller colorations. This phenomenon was known as “supernormal stimulus”.

Supernormal stimulus works the same way with humans when it came to food and sex. Imagine a colorful piece of candy and a piece of sweet fruit, say a kiwi or a pear. Without thinking about it, people tend to gravitate towards the piece of candy. Although the fruit is naturally sweeter, candies are a more concentrated form of sweetness, artificially so, in fact. 

In the case of pornography, sex is the fruit, but porn is the concentrated version of it, the sugar. The visual and auditory stimuli that porn triggers our desire for sex more than the actual act itself. Much like how the concentrated sugar of candy triggers our desire to eat something sweet more than the fruit ever would.

Food Porn and Advertising

Food porn basically triggers our desire for food far better than dull, everyday pictures of food ever will. Advertisers use such strategies to induce cravings from us. Most of the time though, such pictures of food aren’t even real. A lot of food stylists would use different strategies and editing techniques to make the food look much more appetizing than they do real life. They use techniques like drenching the food in petroleum jelly to make them look juicy, or using shaving cream instead of actual whipped cream because whipped cream doesn’t look as robust.

Have you ever walked into a fast-food chain, ordered yourself a burger and thought, “This looks nothing like the one on the photo”? That’s because the photo they use on their menu is an unrealistic version of the food they serve. Don’t get me wrong though, the food still tastes great, and is every bit as satisfying, but to effectively get people to try it, a lot of advertisers will use food porn as a tool to bring us through the door. And it works.

Now that you have an idea of what food porn is, why not incorporate that into your menu and marketing strategies? Visit Piatto.io today.