Is Instagram Ruining Food?

Instagram is changing the world of food one trend at time.  Outrageous concoctions of oozing, artery clogging goodness have taken over Instagram as foodies, influences, and everyone in between seek out extreme, beautiful food in the “do it for the likes” mantra.  Products like milkshakes topped with whole pieces of cake (thanks BlackTap), pizza topped with little pizza slices (oh hey Vinnies), and edible cookie dough (I too waited in a 45 minute line for this) blow up the internet.  Hype forms, leading to massive lines, high prices, happy posters and drooling followers.   

But is this a good thing?

On the one hand, this gives little store fronts the chance to thrive.  If the right accounts post a picture of a rainbow bagel stuffed with cream cheese framed by the Brooklyn bridge in the background, thousands of people might see it resulting in crazy demand spikes as lines form down the sidewalk. (Keep an eye out for Bak’d cookies and follow their social media journey…. I’m guessing they will explode).  Esteemed food critics and formal news coverage are no longer needed to spread the word, and all restaurants have the opportunity to boom and profit as creativity gets the ultimate reward: thousands of likes.  AKA cash in the pocket.   

On the other hand, maybe Instagram is ruining food.  

Presentation matters, but taste matters more.  Great food has fresh ingredients, complex spices, a variety of textures, and unique flavor combinations created by the careful hands of skilled chefs.  Those things don’t always translate to a photo. I have had had quite a few Instagram famous dishes, and I am usually left feeling underwhelmed and robbed of time and money due to  the exorbitant costs and lengthy wait times for products like the Dominque Ansel cookie shot and Smorgasburg Ramen Burger.  You can’t tell me that quality isn’t sacrificed in terms of ingredients and preparation in order to successfully funnel the masses through and maximize profits.  This age of social media encourages restaurants and cafes to focus on creating a pretty exterior with taste being a byproduct. 

The worst part is that if you’ve waited in line and shelled out $16 for something that looks great but tastes average, you’ll still post the photo. 

I know because I do it. 

If I would have bashed the galaxy Duchess cookie or Ramen Burger on IG, that post would have never been shared or reposted..  If I have a kick ass photo that is going to get tons of likes and comments even though it tasted bad, I’m going to post it. I ease my mind by posting more in depth reviews on the story, but obviously that’s a bit of a cop out.

Here are some examples:

Great photo, but it was too salty and lacked texture.
Worlds Best Cookie Dough has a instagram famous cookie pull, but it’s actually just a $5 glob of sugar
A classic street food festival photo, but the chicken was too fatty and the breading was bland.
The glitter in this Duchess cookie= mega likes. But it takes like nothing but sugar.
Maos Baos are cute and yummy looking, but the dough is far to thick and the fillings are bland.

On the other side, we have had some pretty amazing food finds that aren’t photogenic, and a bad photo just doesn’t go well on the news feed.

For example, this Ethiopian dinner was incredible, but it was next to impossible to get a good picture as seen below!

I think the solution lies in the hands of the restaurants to maintain food quality and, more importantly, in the hands of us bloggers to be honest about taste.  Reshaping the hype to be over radical, inventive flavors and deft cooking techniques as oppose to outrageous ideas dependent on shock value and a good photo will push the food industry towards quality culinary outputs. 

Let’s start putting flavor over photo!

5 Comments Add yours

  1. i was going to say Instagram has definitely ruined it. but then your pic here of Ethiopia food took me back there and i wasnt so sure…


  2. Great post Katie! For me I think it’s all about been rationale and not overselling what doesn’t exist because you have the Golden Gate Bridge or Eiffel Tower in the background of your meal. I agree that most of these food look good in the pictures but taste horribly. Thanks for exposing the mediocre.


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