Everytime I see a Burger King ad showing a flame-broiled burger on a sesame seed bun my mouth starts to water. Then I haul ass to the closest BK and buy a Whopper, only to have the whole episode end in heartache. The burger is small and sad-looking, the bun is whithered and the vegetables may not even be actual food. With a burger this crappy, how was I tricked into leaving my warm, cozy womb of an apartment? The short answer: food stylists.
While browsing Slashfood, I happened upon a reference to building a yummy tv burger. This page explains how to make a fast food burger look appetizing in ten steps. It seems to stop short a bit, but it's an interesting read.
Step 1. Fry for 20 seconds on each side. The burger's still raw inside — and not safe to eat — but it looks cooked on camera. And that's what counts, says food stylists (make-up artists who specializes [sic] in food). A fully cooked burger would shrink some, and look too dark.
Step 3. Brush with brown food dye, vegetable oil, or petroleum jelly (such as Vaseline). The burger will have a juicy shine.
Step 5. Spread out the burger so it doesn't look so scrawny. Remember, the camera shoots only the burger's "best side" (the front). You'd never know the burger's not really as big as it seems on TV — until now!
Reading this reminds me of a potential art project I dreamed up. I want to take fast food advertising around the city and copy it exactly, except put a photo of the actual product where the styled product was. It would be great to see everyone do a second take and I'd only feel like I'd accomplished something if I witnessed someone gag just a little bit. That would make my day.