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Fast Food Ads Versus Reality

Have you ever gone to some fast food place, taken a look at the pictures on the menu and decided that, despite what you know about fast food, it looks pretty darn good? Then you order it and WTF? Is this the same meal? Well the folks over at The West Virginia Surf Report have decided to start a comparison of fast food ads vs real fast food photographs. There's a lot of debate as to whether or not this is a fair comparison (after all the ads get great lighting and color correction, so maybe the real pictures should have better lighting and color correction), however it is still pretty telling. The picture above shows Taco Bell's Nacho Bell Grande and if you ask me, no amount of lighting, color correction or soft focus lenses would make the one on the right look nearly as good as the one on the left. Some of the ads don't look nearly as terrible as the others - and some look bad no matter what, the fish fillet looks sort of odd and bland even in the ad photo - but don't take my word on it, go ahead and judge for yourself.

What do you guys think? Do you think it's fair to compare them? Is it bad for advertisers to use the images they do?

Also, this isn't the first time this has been done. In fact just last month The Consumerist ran a comparison of the Wendy's 4 Alarm Spicy Chicken ad vs a real picture.

SugarLove25 SugarLove25 10 years
Look at the model picture...no fast food has time to perfectly place those chips..I am a proud lover of taco bells nachos. they are soo delicous. appearnace only matters to a certain degree. If you are goung to be picky then don't get fast food. period.
Underdog Underdog 10 years
Mcdonalds Food is so Small and So fatting, Why do think I eat at subway when Go out,
aras8218 aras8218 10 years
I think it depends on the peaple in mgt at your particular fast food restaurant, my Taco Bell does a pretty good job of making it look like the picture.
designergirl designergirl 10 years
Those nachos look disgusting. Hopefully, we all were smart enough to know not to expect the food to look like the ad, though. I don't think this is too shocking. Fast food is gross- except for McDonald's fries when you're on a road trip.
haze1nut haze1nut 10 years
fast food can't worry about looks bc if they do it'll end up being called slow food. but yeah, those nachos don't look appetizing but if you put it in front of me i'd probably eat it
mississippigirl1 mississippigirl1 10 years
I used to work at Subway, and because I am a perfectionist I always got told I made "beautiful" sandwiches. ha ha
rawkphish rawkphish 10 years
i love fast food but not so much nachos.
crispet1 crispet1 10 years
Fair game.
redsugar redsugar 10 years
I can see having nachos in the morning. Apparently you have never done shift work. I'd have to be pretty damn hungry or really toasted to buy them in a convenience store.
t_hive88 t_hive88 10 years
Fast food is just gross anyways. I'm totally with tify on this one. I'm a vegetarian, so I can only get fast food at Mexican restaurants because there's nothing for me really at Burger King, Wendy's, or the other burger joints. "Aint nobody out there swift like this."
ALSW ALSW 10 years
I agree, Schaianne - the taste is important, but at least have it looks maybe a little similar!
Schaianne Schaianne 10 years
I want my food to look SIMILAR to the picture at the very least. Yes, taste is more important, but jeez.
krisua krisua 10 years
I don't care if the decorations are the same as at the picture! It's the taste that counts.
mandiesoh mandiesoh 10 years
ultimately it all depends on the ethics of the company. in the advertising world there is this huge debate about being "socially responsible" and being "ethical". but at the end of the day, there are laws about it. so no matter how peeved we are there's basically nothing we can do! also, i've done food photography before, and they DO dress up the food with all kinds of shizz. its unbelieveable. and, having working in F&B before, i would say that it IS possible to give a paying customer and presentable and good tasting meal that is not too far from the ads under 15 mins! :)
reeses93 reeses93 10 years
They are required in the US to photograph the food that is actually offered for sale. However, it doesn't mean they can't pick out the 20 best tortilla chips, the twelve best olive slices, etc., and style them together into the Platonic ideal of a Nacho Bell Grande but that food would actually be found at a Taco Bell. For the garnishes and parts that aren't part of the dish, they can do the famous substitutions such as glue for milk in cereal adverts or boxes, etc. It's actually very stressful. All that said, it doesn't mean it's a pleasant surprise to open your tastefully-wrapped double greaseburger with cheese, Pikkel (tm), and extra mystery sauce and discover it resembles a melted hockey puck more than it does the photo on the menu.
bearbizzle bearbizzle 10 years
That taco bell looks like a pile of crap...literally.
SU3 SU3 10 years
hot chocolate and nachos?! :SICK: The burgers look so sad compared to the ones they advertise.
colormesticky colormesticky 10 years
I'd still eat it. I'm with Geek on the 7-11 nachos, though. Barf! Hope you feel better, Geek. :)
tifygodess24 tifygodess24 10 years
Yeah its a fair comparison because the picture on the right is the one you get at home, you dont have special lighting and all that at home so its more then fair. Fast food is gross to me anyways and never looks good. Ever since I watched Super Size me I cant look at Fast food the same. ( and it also helps im a vegatarian ) I cant count how many times I have found hair , labels and god knows what else in my fast food. I always tear everything apart now before I eat it . Yuck.
joyofadventure joyofadventure 10 years
i think this is a great idea, i think we are sometimes tricked into getting something but that is all part of our consumerist society
cravinsugar cravinsugar 10 years
Geek, 7-11 nachos are the worst. The cheese is not that good anyways...Even drunk they were icky _________________________________________________________ Why don't you wear the face you have when I am not around?
Tech Tech 10 years
This morning I was buying an Odwalla from Seven-11 because I am trying to fend off a cold and the man in front of me was buying hot chocolate and nachos. The nachos consisted of yellow cheese sauce in a black plastic container and chips in a separate plastic bag. It was gross no. 1 because it was 8:50 and no. 2 because the machine next to the check out had a pretty picture of delicious gourmet looking nachos. I for one try and stay away from any place that advertises their food with a picture. Except my favorite taqueria, which has real photos of their burritos and tacos at the check out. It looks delish and it tastes delish.
ElleJay ElleJay 10 years
i agree. i don't eat fast food. taco bell here and there. but as long as it tastes GOOD, who cares what it looks like ! ~*Elle Jay*~
kd0024 kd0024 10 years
Those pictures are just gross, that's why I don't eat fast food!
LaLaLaurie06 LaLaLaurie06 10 years
Looking at these pictures just made me not want to eat fast food ever. But McD's value menu is soooo cheap and I'm poor, so I'm going there tonight. *sigh*
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