FoodPorn Phenomenon: Aesthetics of Gastronomic Temptations

Silvain • updated November 4, 2023 • 6 min read

7 Reasons we love #Foodporn so much

realm of taste and aroma, but a domain of visual allure that invites the beholder to partake in a gastronomic journey.

One phrase that encapsulates this visual allure is “foodporn.” This term has become as ubiquitous as the delicacies it represents, making waves across social media platforms and becoming a genre of photography in its own right.

Let us delve into the meaning behind this captivating term, trace its roots in the rich tapestry of food presentation history, and observe its flourishing in the digital age.

Definition of “foodporn”

The term “foodporn” evokes a blend of aesthetic pleasure and indulgence, akin to beholding a masterpiece in a gallery, with the added perk of being able to devour it afterward.

It refers to images of food that are highly stylized and visually appealing, often characterized by a close-up perspective that highlights the food’s texture, color, and presentation.

The essence of foodporn lies in its ability to evoke desire and anticipation, making one’s mouth water at the mere sight of the dish.

image shows food porn photos with marinated fish

Marinated fish, @SporiZecov

Historical Backdrop: How Food Presentation Has Always Been an Art Form

Long before the term “foodporn” entered our lexicon, the art of food presentation was being perfected across different cultures.

The meticulous arrangement of ingredients on a plate, the play of colors, and the juxtaposition of textures have always been instrumental in elevating a meal from mere sustenance to a memorable experience.

  • Ancient Civilizations: Culinary aesthetics were appreciated as early as ancient times. For instance, the Romans were known for their elaborate feasts with intricately arranged dishes.
  • Renaissance Period: The era saw a confluence of art and cuisine, with chefs employing artistry in presenting their creations, mirroring the artistic explosion in other fields.
  • Modern Era: The 20th century brought along the advent of culinary schools and the professionalization of food presentation, heralding a new age where the visual appeal of food was as critical as its taste.

Rosalind Coward, a feminist, came up with the term in 1984. For the next 20 years, it was used to describe glossy pictures of unhealthy food.

  • In June 2022 you find 286 million images on Instagram with the hashtag foodporn.
  • In September 2004, Flickr added a category called “foodporn” for photos of all kinds of food. Sincehat there are actual 233.000 results for content with the term “foodporn” in the title.

Scientists are trying to figure out why so many people look at pictures of food they can’t even eat and think it looks amazing.

Sociologists aren’t sure how #foodporn affects people, but they have their ideas. There is no agreement, and the different ideas are very different.

Still Life with Cheese by Floris Claesz. van Dijck
Still Life with Cheese by Floris Claesz. van Dijck

The Aesthetics of FoodPorn

When it comes to foodporn, the eye indeed eats first. The visual allure of a dish, captured meticulously through a lens, can evoke a symphony of sensations even before one gets a chance to taste it. This section explores the aesthetic pillars that uphold the grand edifice of foodporn, delving into the visual, photographic, and psychological aspects that together orchestrate this global phenomenon.

A. Visual Appeal

The cornerstone of foodporn lies in its visual appeal, which is often a meticulous concoction of colors, textures, and artful plating techniques. These elements, when harmonized, create a visual feast that beckons the onlooker to indulge.

  • Colorful Presentations: A medley of vibrant colors can be incredibly enticing, mirroring the diversity of flavors awaiting in the dish. The contrast of colors not only pleases the eye but hints at the variety and freshness of the ingredients used.
  • Texture Contrasts: The juxtaposition of textures— the crunch of a crust against the softness of a filling, or the smoothness of a sauce against the roughness of a grilled vegetable— adds a tactile dimension to the visual appeal, beckoning one to experience the dish.
  • Artful Plating Techniques: The arrangement of food on a plate is an art form in itself. A well-plated dish is a canvas where ingredients are placed with intention, creating a balance of colors, shapes, and textures that is visually harmonious.

B. The Role of Photography

Capturing the essence of foodporn requires a discerning eye and a knack for photography. The way a dish is photographed can magnify its appeal manifold, turning a simple meal into a masterpiece worthy of admiration.

  • Importance of Lighting and Angles: Good lighting is crucial to highlight the dish’s best features, while the right angle can accentuate its allure, making the food look as delectable through a lens as it does in person.
  • High-quality Imagery and its Impact: High-resolution images that capture the minutest details— the glisten of a sauce, the crumble of a pastry, or the steam rising from a hot dish— can evoke a visceral desire to taste the food, thereby amplifying the foodporn effect.

C. The Psychology of Visual Appeal

The aesthetics of foodporn tap into our inherent psychological responses, creating a bridge between the visual and the gustatory, and enticing us to explore a dish with more than just our taste buds.

  • How Visually Appealing Food Can Stimulate Appetite: A visually appealing dish can trigger a physiological response, stimulating the release of digestive enzymes and making one’s mouth water in anticipation, thus preparing the body for the feast that lies ahead.
  • The Interplay Between Sight and Taste: Our perception of taste is intimately linked with sight. A visually pleasing presentation can enhance the perceived taste and enjoyment of a dish, making the foodporn experience a holistic sensory delight.

The allure of foodporn lies in its ability to turn food into a visual narrative, telling a story through colors, textures, and photographic excellence.

This narrative beckons food enthusiasts and photographers alike to explore the gastronomic landscape through a lens, discovering the art and science that lies at the heart of every delectable image tagged #foodporn.

# Tools to improve your Food images

The Social Media Phenomenon

The emergence and proliferation of social media platforms have served as a fertile ground for the blossoming of foodporn culture.

These platforms have not only made it effortless to share and view high-quality images and videos of food but have also created a community of food enthusiasts who thrive on discovering, sharing, and appreciating the artistry in culinary presentations.

This section explores how various platforms have fostered this trend, the ubiquity of the #foodporn hashtag, the ripple effects on the food industry, and some emblematic cases of eateries and food items propelled to fame through captivating foodporn imagery.

A. Platforms Fostering the Trend

The digital age has provided us with various platforms where foodporn finds its expression, each with its unique features conducive to showcasing culinary artistry.

  • Instagram: With its image-centric design, Instagram is arguably the epicenter of the foodporn phenomenon. Its simplistic interface allows for easy uploading and viewing of images, making it a favorite among both amateur food photographers and professional chefs.
  • Pinterest: A platform known for inspiring creativity, Pinterest is a haven for food enthusiasts looking for visually appealing recipes and plating ideas. The ability to create and share boards allows for a curated foodporn experience.
  • YouTube: The dynamic nature of YouTube allows for a more immersive foodporn experience. Viewers can watch the creation of visually appealing dishes from scratch, often in high-definition videos that capture every texture and hue.

B. The #foodporn Hashtag and its Widespread Usage

The hashtag #foodporn has become synonymous with visually appealing food on social media. It acts as a magnet drawing in viewers and a badge of honor for those able to create such enticing imagery.

  • Usage Statistics: The hashtag has been used millions of times across various platforms, showcasing the global and enduring appeal of foodporn.
  • Community Building: It has fostered a community of like-minded individuals who share a passion for both food and food photography.

Read more about social media und the use of food hashtags to gain views.

C. Viral Food Trends and Their Impact on the Food Industry

The ripple effect of foodporn trends on the food industry is palpable. Viral food trends often translate to a surge in demand for certain dishes or ingredients, influencing not only consumer behavior but also restaurant menus and food brand offerings.

  • Trend Adoption: Many eateries quickly adopt viral food trends to capitalize on their popularity.
  • Innovative Offerings: The desire to create the next viral foodporn sensation spurs innovation in the food industry, leading to the creation of unique and visually appealing dishes.

D. Case Studies of Eateries or Food Items that Gained Popularity through Foodporn Imagery

The power of foodporn imagery to catapult eateries or specific food items to fame is well-documented. A few compelling case studies illustrate this phenomenon.

  • New York’s Rainbow Bagels: The visually stunning rainbow bagels became an overnight sensation, with people flocking to The Bagel Store in Brooklyn to get a taste of this colorful creation.
  • Black Tap’s Crazy Shakes: The over-the-top milkshakes served at Black Tap in NYC became a foodporn icon, drawing in crowds eager to experience and photograph these whimsical concoctions.
  • The Cronut Craze: The cronut, a croissant-doughnut hybrid created by Chef Dominique Ansel, took the food world by storm, with its aesthetically pleasing form and scrumptious taste, embodying the essence of foodporn.

The symbiotic relationship between foodporn and social media has not only reshaped our digital experience but also left an indelible mark on the food industry.

Through hashtags, viral trends, and the relentless pursuit of the next eye-catching dish, the world of foodporn continues to expand, tantalizing our senses and transforming the way we interact with food in the digital realm.

The Professional World of FoodPorn

The enthralling images tagged under #foodporn we often stumble upon during our digital strolls are seldom a casual click.

Behind the scenes is a bustling professional world where food stylists, photographers, chefs, and brands converge to create these visual masterpieces that entice our senses.

Their creative endeavors not only tantalize our taste buds from afar but significantly influence the culinary landscape.

This section illuminates the unsung heroes of foodporn, the symbiotic relationship between chefs and foodporn trends, and how eateries and food brands are harnessing this visual wave to their advantage.

A. Food Stylists and Photographers: The Unsung Heroes

Behind every drool-worthy image of a gourmet dish is a duo of a meticulous food stylist and a skilled photographer. Their artistry transforms ordinary ingredients into visual poetry.

  • Precision and Patience: Food stylists meticulously arrange every element on the plate to achieve a visually appealing composition, while photographers experiment with lighting and angles to capture the essence of the dish.
  • Narrating a Story: Through their lens and artistic arrangements, they narrate a story, making the food not just visually appealing but evoking emotions and desires.

B. The Relationship Between Chefs and Foodporn Trends

The dance between chefs and foodporn trends is a delicate one. While they draw inspiration from these trends, their creativity often fuels the next viral foodporn sensation.

  • Inspiration: Many chefs draw inspiration from foodporn trends, which act as a catalyst for their creativity.
  • Innovation: Chefs, with their culinary prowess, play a significant role in pushing the boundaries of foodporn, creating dishes that are not just visually appealing but a gustatory delight.

C. How Restaurants and Food Brands are Leveraging the Trend

The foodporn phenomenon is a golden ticket for restaurants and food brands to showcase their offerings in a visually appealing manner, thereby attracting a wider audience.

  • Social Media Marketing: Many eateries and food brands actively engage in creating foodporn content for social media to lure in customers.
  • Collaborations: Collaborating with food bloggers and influencers who specialize in foodporn photography is a prevalent practice, as it provides a wider reach and authentic engagement with potential customers.
  • Menu Innovation: Restaurants often innovate their menus to include visually appealing dishes that are likely to be shared on social media, creating a buzz and drawing in a crowd.

The Criticism and Controversy

The alluring images under the banner of foodporn often cast a spell, leaving viewers in a state of awe and desire. However, beneath the glossy surface of these appetizing images lies a realm of criticism and controversy.

As much as foodporn contributes to the celebration of culinary artistry, it also sparks debates around realistic food expectations, food waste, and the promotion of overindulgence and unhealthy eating habits.

This section delves into these critical aspects, shedding light on the less savory side of foodporn.

A. The Potential Distortion of Realistic Food Expectations

The flawless images of foodporn can sometimes paint an unrealistic picture of what everyday food looks like, leading to distorted food expectations.

  • Perfection vs. Reality: The meticulously curated images may create a notion of perfection that real kitchens, with all their chaos and time constraints, often cannot match.
  • Impact on Consumer Satisfaction: The high expectations set by foodporn images can potentially lead to disappointment when the actual dish does not measure up visually.

B. How Foodporn May Contribute to Food Waste

The quest for the perfect foodporn image can sometimes contribute to food waste, a concern in a world where hunger is still a prevalent issue.

  • Excess Production: In the effort to capture the perfect shot, multiple dishes might be prepared and eventually discarded.
  • Impractical Servings: Some foodporn trends promote oversized or overfilled dishes which are often not consumed entirely, leading to wastage.

C. The Debate on Whether Foodporn Promotes Overindulgence and Unhealthy Eating Habits

The often decadent and indulgent nature of foodporn images sparks debates on its impact on eating behaviors.

  • Promotion of Overindulgence: The extravagance showcased in foodporn images can promote a culture of overindulgence, where excess is celebrated.
  • Unhealthy Food Choices: Foodporn often glorifies dishes high in sugar, fat, and calories, which might encourage unhealthy eating habits, especially among impressionable audiences.

The criticism surrounding foodporn brings to the fore a need for a balanced narrative that not only celebrates culinary creativity but also advocates for realistic, sustainable, and healthy food practices.

As the foodporn trend continues to evolve, it beckons a reflection on its broader impact on society and individual behaviors, urging a discourse that goes beyond the visual allure and digs deeper into the implications it carries for the food culture at large.

The Future of FoodPorn

The journey of foodporn is far from over as it continues to evolve with technological advancements and changing social dynamics.

The Evolution of Food Presentation in the Digital Age

The digital realm will continue to offer novel platforms and tools, enabling more creative and interactive food presentation.

Potential Future Trends in Food Photography and Social Sharing

Emerging trends like 3D food photography and interactive social sharing platforms might redefine foodporn, making it more engaging and immersive.

The Intersection of Foodporn with Other Technological Trends like AR and VR

Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) could provide a 3D gastronomic visual experience, pushing the boundaries of foodporn to uncharted territories.


Foodporn, a term that emerged from the social media lexicon, has now become a cultural phenomenon that transcends digital boundaries.

Its allure lies in its ability to transform the mundane act of eating into a visually enthralling experience, a visual feast that precedes the actual feast.

The Enduring Allure of Foodporn

The journey from the eye to the palate is filled with anticipation, excitement, and desire, all stirred by a single image of a tantalizing dish.

The ability of foodporn to evoke such a gamut of emotions is the cornerstone of its enduring allure.

It’s not just about the food; it’s about the story it tells and the emotions it evokes. It’s a celebration of culinary artistry and a testament to human creativity.

Reflecting on its Societal Impact and What it Says About Modern Food Culture

Foodporn is a mirror reflecting modern food culture—our penchant for visual appeal, our desire to share and connect over food, and our ever-evolving culinary tastes.

However, it also prompts a reflection on its implications— the distorted food expectations, potential food wastage, and the promotion of overindulgence.

As we relish in the visual feast that foodporn offers, it’s imperative to also chew on the broader societal impacts it entails.


Academic Papers on Visual Food Aesthetics and Social Media:

  1. Allué, S. (2013). Aesthetics of Food: The Role of Visual Framing Strategies for Influence. Retrieved from scholarworks.rit.edu1​.
  2. McDonnell, R. (2016). Camera Eats First: Exploring Food Aesthetics Portrayed on Social Media. Retrieved from emerald.com2​.
  3. How Visual Aesthetics and Calorie Density Predict Food Image… Retrieved from pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov3​.
  4. Kozinets, R. V. et al. (2017). Creativity, Aesthetics and Ethics of Food Waste in Social Media. Retrieved from sciencedirect.com4​.

 Interviews with Chefs, Food Stylists, and Social Media Influencers:

  1. Food Discourse: Ethics and Aesthetics on Instagram. Retrieved from emerald.com5​.
  2. Chefs of Social Media: How These Food Connoisseurs Reached a Global Audience. Retrieved from socialsamosa.com6​.

Statistics on Social Media Engagement with Food Imagery:

  1. 18 Food Photography Statistics to Dominate the Industry 2023. Retrieved from soocial.com7​.
  2. Predicting Social Media Engagement with Computer Vision… Retrieved from sciencedirect.com8​.

More stuff to read about food and foodies:

Let’s Talk About Unicorn Toast
First timers food guide to New Orleans
15 Food Cities in Asia for the Ultimate Foodie
Food bloggers in Belgium
Barcelona’s Best Food Tour


What is your take, do you also love #Foodporn? -let us know in the comments?

By Furoore team member Silvain

Silvain is a French/German national and has been with the Furoore Team since the beginning. He likes to write about various photography themes, especially food photography. If you leave a comment, he will come back to you to answer any questions you may have.


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