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15 Ways Advertisers Try To Trick You In Food Commercials

Rick Gayle Studio Blog/iFuun

Be honest. Whenever you see a food commercial on TV, you can't help but crave whatever it was advertising moments later. The food shown looks like the definition of tasty, but when you go to the store to buy the treat, you're only met with regret and disappointment.

But, what if I told you these commercials aren't exactly what they seem? As it turns out, there are several tricks advertisers use to enhance their product to entice their customers.

"A lot of companies have the policy of 'as long as you're using real food, no matter how you dress it up, it's fine,'"  food stylist Emma Feigenbaum said. "If a diet or frozen foods company uses bell peppers — say — you're allowed to swap them out for fresh peppers."

Curious about what exactly goes on behind the scenes of your favorite food commercials? Look no further, because here are 15 ways advertisers manipulate the products we see on the small screen.

1. Glue instead of milk

When we see a cereal brand show a commercial of a family eating their hearty breakfast, you'll be surprised to learn they're Mini Wheats aren't being mixed with milk, but rather white glue.

Since cereal typically becomes mushy and sinks to the bottom of the bowl, advertisers use glue to make the pieces stay on top, and kept in its original form.

2. Antacids in soft drinks

When we see a fizzy class of soda, did you know the bubbles seen aren't there naturally. Since carbon dioxide doesn't last as long, putting in an antacid tablet makes the bubbles reappear due to the immediate chemical reaction.

3. Mashed potatoes instead of ice cream

Since a company's real ice cream would quickly melt under the hot lights, it's replaced with mashed potatoes mixed with in with various food coloring. Advertisers still use an ice cream scoop to place the mashed potatoes in a bowl, and until now, we customers have been none the wiser.

4. Brown shoe polish to color hamburger buns

Side by side of shoe polish and a hamburger
Last & Lapel/RecipeTin Eats

Don't you hate it when you see a nice brown bun in commercials, but when you see them in the store they're pale in comparison? Well that's because food stylists rub brown shoe polish on the buns before the product is filmed.

But, it's not just the bun that's turned brown. Since the meat isn't cooked when it appears in commercials, advertisers also paint it brown to give it the just off the grill look.

5. Motor oil on pancakes

While advertisers want you to believe their stack of pancakes is drizzled in mouthwatering syrup, it wouldn't be wise to eat the prop used in the studio. That's because the pancakes are actually doused in motor oil instead.

This change is due to the fact real syrup would soak the pancakes, making them soggy and unpresentable. When they use motor oil, the condiment just glistens on top.

6. Cardboard inside of cake

Since cake should be a moist desert, if it's put on a plate too long, it's bound to crumble. By putting pieces of cardboard between the slices ( which are kept in place by toothpicks), the cake slice is able to keep its form and entice sugar-fiend crowds.

7. Glucose syrup on top of Chinese noodles

Once noodles are cooked, they tend to dry out shortly after, so food stylists glaze glucose syrup on top of it to keep it looking like it's ready to be devoured.

8. Cotton balls and tampons to produce steam

As anyone who has had a cooked meal before, when food comes out of the oven, it can be piping hot. Luckily for us, it doesn't last long for us to eat, but for advertisers, they know consumers wouldn't be tempted by a meal that automatically comes out cold. So, they cunningly place either a warmed up, wet cotton ball or tampon behind the product in question to make it look like the steam is coming from the foot itself.

9. Fake ice cubes in beverages

Similar to ice cream, ice cubes can only keep its form for a limited time before they melt, so when brands are advertising a tasty new beverage, the look of half-melted ice cubes leave little to be desired. Plus, when you use fake ice cubes, they're all kept in the perfect square shape - not the wonky ones real life presents.

10. Stuffed chicken with paper towels

Side by side of paper towels and cooked chicken
Crate and Barrel/Healthy Food Guide

Ah, a scrumptious roast chicken, a food that will make everyone's mouth water. In commercials we often see the meat looking plump and ready to be dug into, but of course, it's not exactly what it seems. Not only is the chicken roast undercooked to keep it looking juicier, but it's stuffed with paper towels to make it look bigger than it actually is.

11. Dish soap in beer

Side by side of dish soap and beer
Dawn/Hotelier Magazine

Is a beer really a beer if there's no foam on top? Unfortunately, since commercials can take a long time to shoot, the foam doesn't stay for nearly as long. To keep up with appearances, advertisers often put dish soap into the glasses of beer to reproduce the foam, which lasts significantly longer.

12. Tweezers to place sesame seeds

Do you ever see a hamburger commercial and think to yourself "Wow that's one mighty fine burger?" Well advertisers do too, because they go to extra lengths to make sure the burger's exterior is nothing less than perfect. So, food stylists will glue each sesame seed on the burger's bun with the help a tweezer. Talk about dedication.

13. Hairspray splashed on fruits

Side by side of hair spray and apples
Kiss The Chaos/Well Being Kid

Ever notice the fruit in advertisements shine, but when you open your refrigerator they happen to look unappetizing and dull? Well, just like hairspray helps your hair look shiny, it creates the same results on your favorite fruits.

14. Shaving cream instead of whipped cream

Side by side of shaving cream and whipped cream
Difference Between/Tastes of Lizzy T

One of many people's favorite topping on deserts, whip cream in commercials look impeccably placed on whatever it's suppose to garnish.

However, food stylists frequently use shaving cream instead, since it doesn't melt. Who knew people loved so many disintegrating foods.

15. Meat is soaked in oil

As previously mentioned, meat is frequently left either raw of severely undercooked when it is presented in commercials.

So, it's not unusual to have meat dipped in oil to make it look thick and juicy, when it's typically more dry in real life.

What commercial trick surprised you the most? Let us know!

[H/T: Bright Side, Insider, Mental Floss, Scoop Whoop]

Maya has been working at Shared for a year. She just begrudgingly spent $200 on a gym membership. Contact her at maya@shared.com