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Fast Food: Advertisements vs. Reality

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Photographer Dario D was fed up with his fast food order not looking quite as appetizing as it did on the advert and decided to see how the food sold over the counter matched up to the promised product.

He bought burgers and tacos from some of the biggest chains in the United States and set them up in his studio for a professional standard photo shoot.

And the difference was clear to see.

Dario D found that most of the burgers he bought were not quite as tall as the adverts promised they would be.

In fact, Big Macs would struggle to fit inside their boxes if they matched their picture.

Another McDonald’s burger, the Angus Deluxe Third Pounder, would have the same trouble.

Dario D embarked on the project following: “a lifetime of disappointment, bafflement, and rage”, posting the results on his website.

He gave Burger King’s Whopper a few tries, but after slightly squashed results could only conclude: “They need to fire the guy who does his yoga on top of the Whoppers.”

In one side-by-side comparison, he showed the results of asking staff at different locations to make the Whopper look like its advert.


Photographer Dario D found that most of the burgers he bought were not quite as tall as the adverts promised they would be

Photographer Dario D found that most of the burgers he bought were not quite as tall as the adverts promised they would be

“Both times, the cashiers turned and took strangely long, careful looks, as if nobody had ever requested that before,” he said.

“They said sure.”

Out of curiosity, Dario D complained about the “misleading” adverts.

A member of Burger King’s Consumer Relations Team replied: “One may find the Whopper Sandwich as pictured in commercials more attractive because during photo sessions, professional food stylists are used to ensure the consistency and appearance.”

It wasn’t just burger chains where the food failed to size up to its commercial counterpart.

In Taco Bell and Jack in the Box, the tacos were thin compared with the packed shells in the adverts.

Of the Taco Bell results, Dario D said: “Since these tacos are pretty dry and empty, I can only tolerate them with hot sauce, which, for me, is when they become good.”

With the help of a green screen and rotating chair, Dario D took each product’s photo at the most flattering angle he could before using digital software to show the advert and real product side-by-side.

Dario D said: “I gave the items as fair a chance as absolutely possible.”

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