Tuesday, December 7, 2010


Kim Cattrall of Sex in the City fame is the spokesmodel in this Breyer's Ice Cream ad.
Image Source: (conveniently named) Manipulator.com

Even with what's been said about the non-consumption of material goods as result of the Food Network and food porn ads, there remains a need to eat. Food no longer comes from the fields or orchards, we are extremely disconnected from our sources of food. We also have a paradox of choice when it comes to food consumption. With supermarkets and mega-marts, our food culture has spurned our conversion from buying on a need-to-need basis to a land of excess consumption. All in the name of 'economies of scale,' we buy more and more because are presented with so many choices:
A supermarket. Image Source: Marcelgreen.com
With mass production and the rise of competition, food products needed a way to differentiate themselves using marketing and advertising. One of the quickest routes to satisfaction is consumption (Ewen 103). Food can provide both pleasure and or comfort As McLuhan puts it, a universal answer to all needs. "whereas pleasure is a counter-irritant (e.g., sports, entertainment, and alcohol), comfort is the removal of irritants. Both pleasure and comfort are strategies of equilibrium for the central nervous system" (McLuhan 65). McLuhan indirectly equates our need to consume as an equilibrium for our senses. Advertisers can uniquely approach both needs using sexual advertising - with signs for pleasure and for comfort:

Did you know that Coca-Cola offers over 450 brands?
Image Source: Allposters.com

Lobster benedict at a NYC brunchspot Essex (also of Sex in the City fame)
The more media we consume, the more ‘food porn’ we digest--and the more food media becomes amputated from its original self and its material heritage. The new food mediums (food blogs, food albums, Facebook pics, Twitpics) are de-materialized mediums. There is no material connection to a physical food to the viewer.As McLuhan puts it, we are numb to its effects and no longer feel the need to seek out the material part of food as it has become a 'purer' media entertainment that merely reflects onto to itself (McLuhan 65). This has a lot to do with our society's acceptance of visuality...it doesn't squint around on its own except in a metaphoric sense; it mediates between our eyes and the sites of space that it helps us experience as sights (Schlereth 2).

"Virtually no one on the planet is untouched by the dominance of these techno-economic systems"(Nakamura and Haraway). We are bombarded by technology and marketing, "seeing the different types creates the desire to try them all...therein lies food marketers' greatest weapon: Offer people greater options, and they will consume more" (Stacey 1). Food is all about options.

Internet ad for Groupon trying to entice users to buy a food meal. Image Source: NewYorkTimes.com Ad Server

America is a consumer culture. America is also a food and capitalist culture. "The underlying premise is that objects made or modified by humans, consciously or unconsciously, directly or indirectly, reflect the belief patterns of individuals who made, commissioned, purchased, or used them, and, by extension, the belief patterns of the larger society to which they belonged...Material culture is that segment of man's physical environment which is purposely shaped by him according to culturally dictated plans" (Schlereth 12-13 ).

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