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Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Packaged Food Image vs. Reality

German site Pundo3000 compares the photos on the outside of packaged foods with the product inside. It ain't pretty, but it is hilarious. (Meanwhile apples, for instance, greet you without layers of makeup.)

Here's their intro YouTube video:

(Also, I have one word for you: "Currywurst.")


doug said...

Man, just _looking_ at those made me reach for the Pepto-Bismol. If the packaging were honest, most of the products would be described as "mystery meat in brown sludge."

But a grilled hot dog with some curry powder could actually be good.

gastropodblue said...

OMG, I ate a currywurst in Berlin and it was so much better than it should have been. How can something so gross-looking be so delicious?

lj said...

I can certainly see how the combination of sausage and curry would be good...maybe not sausage from a plastic TV dinner tray with just some straight curry powder dumped on it, but the underlying idea has potential.

This reminds me: recently in a grocery store (the NE Lund's) I saw some Disney-branded (Incredibles-branded, actually) individually wrapped pre-sliced apple slices. I think I actually stood in the aisle, mouth hanging open, for a minute. I forgot to pay attention to how much they cost, to estimate what hourly wage a customer would be paying Disney to slice their apples for them.

lj said...

Ok, I just looked at few more of those, and two things strike me. One: German cuisine is different enough that even what many of these products are *supposed* to look like is bizarre to me. Second: when people who regularly eat these products think about/remember them, which picture do they have in their mind -- the packaging, or the reality? I grew up eating a fair amount of packaged food, and I bet that it's closer to the packaging (at least for little kids, who are thus indoctrinated into the whole business).

teague said...

I'm trying to mentally taste what currywurst would be like, and I'm having a hard time, but maybe I would like it. Jesse, did you buy it from a street vendor or what?

LJ, I wouldn't have thought of that, but I think you're right about the memory of packaged food. Which is just another example of how insidious marketing is.

As for the Disney apple slices, I share your astonishment. You should totally calculate the hourly rate that people are effectively paying, that would be really interesting. The weird thing is that this seems very different depending on which end of the food processing spectrum you look at it from. From the processed food end, it looks virtuous because it's a lot healthier; from the whole food end, it looks totally absurd because it's so unnecessary. I guess the whole logic of processed foods collapses as you get toward more reasonable foods, so there's not a lot of incentive for the companies to go there.

Ian said...

You know, I'm actually surprised by how many of the advertising images manage to look fairly similar to the final product. That doesn't make them look that much tastier, but at least they're more up front about the product. The "Mini Krustenbraten" for example makes no attempt to hide that it is highly processed.

gastropodblue said...

Yeah, I bought it from a street vendor--they are sold all over the place. It's basically a cut-up grilled sausage smothered in ketchup with a load of curry powder on top. It's often served with/on top of fries, though mine came with a bread roll.

Way tastier than any description can make it sound.

lj said...

So "currywurst" always just has straight curry powder dumped on it? That's the weirdest part to me. On the other hand, a sausage made with curry as part of the internal seasoning seems like it could be really good.

"From the processed food end, it looks virtuous because it's a lot healthier"

That's totally the route they were going with the marketing: it was Incredibles-branded, as in, "Incredible super-hero kids eat healthy, full-of-wholesome-energy snacks, like green apples! Please allow us to cut and individually package some slices for you!" I know you can also buy individually-wrapped, ready-to-nuke potatoes.

lj said...

I just quickly googled to see if I could find a price for the apples. I did not, but did find this article/press release, from "The Magazine for Value-Added Produce." It's really twisted that we now have to trick our children with cartoons into thinking real food is as appealing as pulverized corn solids. (I won't contemplate my own lifetime Doritos-to-apples score, although it is improving)

teague said...

Ian, you're right, there are some that do look an awful lot like the picture on the package. It seems baked goods and candy are more receptive to primping.

Jesse, the extra description is helping, I guess. If I get to Berlin, I'll definitely give it a try.

"The Magazine of Value-Added Produce," eh? Even though they're just marketing produce, advertising talk never fails to freak me out.