Food porn

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Not to be confused with food and sexuality.
Food shot for a restaurant.
Roast birds on skewersstreet food in Qibao, China.
A close-up of "red velvet cake".
A slice of pizza.

Food porn is a glamourized spectacular visual presentation of cooking or eating in advertisements, infomercials, blogs[1] cooking shows or other visual media,[2] foods boasting a high fat and calorie content,[3] exotic dishes that arouse a desire to eat or the glorification of food as a substitute for sex.[4] Food porn often takes the form of food photography and styling that presents food provocatively, in a similar way to glamour photography or pornographic photography.


The term appears to have been coined by the feminist critic Rosalind Coward in her 1984 book Female Desire[5] in which she writes:

"Cooking food and presenting it beautifully is an act of servitude. It is a way of expressing affection through a gift... That we should aspire to produce perfectly finished and presented food is a symbol of a willing and enjoyable participation in servicing others. Food pornography exactly sustains these meanings relating to the preparation of food. The kinds of picture used always repress the process of production of a meal. They are always beautifully lit, often touched up." (p. 103)

It is important to realize that the term food porn does not strictly deal with the connection, often established throughout history, between food items and sexual contents. In the United States, food porn is a term applied when "food manufacturers are capitalising on a backlash against low-calorie and diet foods by marketing treats that boast a high fat content and good artery-clogging potential".[3] The origin of the term was attributed to the Center for Science in the Public Interest[3] which began publishing a regular column called "Right Stuff vs. Food Porn" for its Nutrition Action Healthletter in January 1998.[6][7]

In the United Kingdom, the term became popular in the 1990s due to the TV cookery programme Two Fat Ladies after the shows producer described the "pornographic joy" the pair of them took in using vast quantities of butter and cream.[8]

Connection with Business[edit]

Taking a picture of food became one of the norms for younger generation in the world. Study from YPulse shows 63% of people between thirteen years old to thirty two years old posted their food picture while they are eating on social networking services. Moreover, 57% of people in the same age range posted information of the food they were eating at that time.[9] From the percentage, food and social media are starting to connect together as trend. People use hashtag foodporn (#foodporn) unintentionally, but for doing that it helps food industry to track down the data to catch hungry attentions from audiences on social networking services. In current number, about 54 million food pictures are hashtagged on only Instagram. On Facebook, Social media helps connecting people through food trend, and #foodporn.

Uses/ Community[edit]

The term food porn has shifted throughout its first appearances. Articles mentioned food porn as early as the late 1970s. The phrase food porn was used in a literal manner, describing food that was unhealthy for human consumption, directly comparing it to pornography. Its use then took on a new meaning, being used to describe food that was presented and prepared in a manner that was aesthetically appealing.[10] It took on this use for over a decade, until the social media boom that was created by the internet. Once the early 2000s hit, the terminology evolved into a way of documenting meals that are recognized for their presentation. This desire for food has flooded the internet, having significant effects on social media sites that provide the ability to display such as Instagram, Flickr, Snapchat, Facebook, and Twitter. The popularity of displaying food in a physically appealing manner is driven by the users that create these communities. The use of hashtags that the users of these sites have adapted to, allow food porn to connect people in a way that documents anything about the food such as, foods that reflect cultures, calories, presentation, preparation, delicious taste, and anything else that adds to the authenticity of the meal.[11]


The term foodporn refers to images of food across various social media platforms such as TV, cooking magazine, online blog, website and social media platforms. The reason why foodporn is strongly connecting with popular culture is due to the fact that people are exposed to food in their everyday lives.[12] Foodporn is not specific to social media platforms and could also be part of the category on newspaper and online blog. Moreover, foodporn is experienced globally. Language barriers that exist culturally can be bypassed by the usage of #foodporn. Food porn is used collectively by the online users and is does not exclude or privilege one food over another.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Buttermilk & Sriracha Fried Chicken: Recipe". The City Lane. 
  2. ^ Probyn, Elspeth (1999). "Beyond Food/Sex: Eating and an Ethics of Existence". Theory, Culture & Society 16 (2): 215–228. doi:10.1177/02632769922050485. 
  3. ^ a b c Davis, Simon (2000-05-10). "Unhealthy eating is new fad in US". The Telegraph. Archived from the original on 2000-05-12. Retrieved 2008-04-04. 
  4. ^ Bourdain, Anthony (2001-11-04). "Food Porn: Lust for the gastronomic – from Zola to cookbooks – is nothing new, but maybe it's time to shelve it". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2008-04-04. 
  5. ^ Coward, Rosalind (1984). Female Desire: Women's Sexuality Today. Paladin. ISBN 0-586-08447-9. 
  6. ^ "1998 Index". Center for Science in the Public Interest. 
  7. ^ "April '98 Right Stuff vs. Food Porn". Center for Science in the Public Interest. 
  8. ^ "Ben Viveur: Pornographic Joy". Ben Viveur. 
  9. ^ "#FoodPorn: The Growing Influence Of Social Food | Ypulse". Retrieved 2015-12-09. 
  10. ^ "What 'Food Porn' Does to the Brain". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2015-12-09. 
  11. ^ "Food Porn". Know Your Meme. Retrieved 2015-12-09. 
  12. ^ "Where Food, Drink and Pop Culture Meet". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 2015-12-09. 

Further reading[edit]