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Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Life Imitates Art, Poorly

posted by on April 2 at 10:26 AM

From the German website, a photographic survey of food products, comparing packaging and promo shots with actual contents.


(Thank you, Funtasticus, and Slog tipper Mike.)

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Posted by subwlf | April 2, 2008 10:22 AM

ugh, that's gnarley.

Posted by catnextdoor | April 2, 2008 10:25 AM

This has been going on for years.

Posted by Jason Josephes | April 2, 2008 10:27 AM

Hmmm, german supermarket food looks a lot tastier than american supermarket food.

Posted by ER ISST! | April 2, 2008 10:45 AM

That makes me so happy! I can't wait for someone to do this with American prepackaged food.

Posted by oakling | April 2, 2008 10:57 AM

currywurst? really?

Posted by Stephanie | April 2, 2008 11:14 AM

I stopped eating prepackaged food a while ago. This is not shocking, it's the standard.

Posted by monkey | April 2, 2008 11:45 AM

Maybe it looks better if YOU COOK IT.

Posted by Sluggo | April 2, 2008 12:13 PM

Sluggo @8, "COOK" is the wrong word. Technically, it's already cooked. All you do is merely radiate it till it's warm.

Posted by Reverse Polarity | April 2, 2008 12:30 PM

Having spent about six and a-half years in the food products industry, I can tell you, getting those pretty packaging shots is not as easy as one might think.

Of course, it certainly helps to have a food product that resembles actual food to begin with, but even with something as innocuous and seemingly fool-proof as, say, ice cream for example, there's a lot of prep work, and "beautification" of the product that goes on before the camera even starts snapping.

I was a bit shocked to discover that most of the ice cream you see on packaging isn't even real ice cream, which of course quickly melts into a puddle of unappetizing glop under set and camera lights, but rather is generally some sort of dough-like substance, colored and textured to look like a bowl of freshly scooped ice cream.

And then there's all the fluffing (yes, there are "food fluffers"), sculpting, and oh-so-precise placement of accoutrements; each and every chocolate chip, or strawberry slice delicately and strategically arranged to create a maximum aesthetic appeal for the product.

In the end, the only thing that really matters is that the picture on the package makes you want to put the product in your cart and take it all the way to the check-out; what it looks like after you get home, is frankly, almost irrelevent. Because, what are you going to do? Throw it out just because it looks worse than the package?

Posted by COMTE | April 2, 2008 12:41 PM

Those rittersport peppermint bars are good. They sell them in the states in vegan stores because they don't have any dairy.

Posted by julia | April 2, 2008 12:44 PM

@8 Is IS cooked. That's how it really looks at the end. They explain their methodology on the main page which includes preparing each item as directed and....
Eating it when they're done.

Posted by SwissMiss | April 2, 2008 12:56 PM

Comte, that's interesting about the "ice cream" dough.

My own experience with food stylists has taught me that the moist sheen that cooked products have in promo shots is very often honey that's been applied with a paintbrush.

Posted by Bison | April 2, 2008 1:09 PM

Looks like bloody diarrhea. With a side of Death Cake.

Posted by Fnarf | April 2, 2008 1:22 PM


Yeah, I've also seen them use glycerin/glycerol or even a water-and-corn starch mixture. I once watched our Product Testing Manager apply individual beads of "condensation sweat" onto a scoop of "ice cream" with an eye dropper, in order to get them in just the right spots to catch the light from the camera strobes.

Basically, they'll do whatever it takes to make the product look fresh, even after it's been sitting on a counter under high-wattage studio lighting for several hours.

Posted by COMTE | April 2, 2008 3:30 PM

This is just a cruel joke:

Posted by banjoboy | April 2, 2008 5:56 PM

oh god, and this one:

Posted by banjoboy | April 2, 2008 6:13 PM


Ummm...if you find yourself disappointed that your prepackaged herring chunks with beet bits (god please let those be beets) salad doesn't look as awesome in person as on the package, I think the real problem lies with your choice of foodstuffs rather than with the company that created the packaging.

And for what it's worth, you can actually see through this packaging.

Posted by Jiminy | April 2, 2008 8:53 PM

To their credit, I know that Haagen Dazs uses real ice-cream in their photos. I saw a TV show once that showed the photographer they have, who basically spends hours scooping ice cream out of specially prepared cartons of ice cream until he gets the perfect scoop, which he then takes a photo of.

@Jiminy ... when herring looks like the fish on the package, it is quite delicious.

Posted by Totoro | April 3, 2008 11:14 AM

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