4 ways junk-food companies subliminally seduce you


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Fast-food and junk-food companies have a habit of marketing their products in specific ways to entice consumers, regardless of gender or age. Needless to say, their tactics aren't always honorable.

Here are four of the ways they get you hooked:


1. The lights, cameras, makeup

We’ve all been there — hungry and in front of the TV as a beautiful commercial comes on and showcases a steamy cheese-dripping pizza or a giant triple cheeseburger with magical sauce and a bun dotted with sesame seeds.

Those visuals make us want what they’re selling and want it right now. So we get up, put on some pants and shoes, and haul ourselves to the nearest location where we can get what we crave. Instead, what we get in a cardboard container is stuck to the roof and looks like the Hulk may have been involved in its assembly.

The difference between what you see on TV and what you get in real life isn’t entirely the fault of whomever made the food. Those juicy burgers are actually raw meat that are seared long enough to get a brown color and then painted to give them contouring. That lettuce and those pickles and tomatoes are held in place with toothpicks and other items that prop up each layer so perfectly. 

And the bun — oy, the bun! Those sesame seeds are individually glued onto the bread. We dare you to try to look at a cheeseburger commercial without seeing those things from now on.


2. The toys

For millennials, we had that spoiled cousin who had every single McDonald’s miniature Barbie and refused to let you play with them (not that we’re bitter). For parents of those toy-obsessed children, this was the absolute worst because no matter how far away from your town’s McDonald’s you drove, your child would still end up with the same toy they got in their Happy Meal two weeks prior and you’d end up with a minivan full of tears.

Marketing Happy Meals with toys does several things for McDonald’s, the world’s largest distributor of toys. Most notably, it hooks kids at young ages by providing toys from almost every entertainment company that a child comes in contact with daily. No wonder those Happy Meal trips ended in tears.


3. The mascots

Every one of them — from the leprechaun endlessly taunting children to catch his lucky charms to the sexy M&M playing a trick on her dimmer male counterparts — target consumers of all ages to buy and eat the product being advertised. While fast-food executives at such restaurants as McDonald’s say that comparing Ronald McDonald to Joe Camel is inaccurate, there’s no doubt that these friendly mascots are cultural icons.


4. The athlete’s endorsement

If Michael Jordan eats a Snickers bar and I eat a Snickers bar, does that mean I’ll have the nourishment needed to slam-dunk a basketball? 

OK, that’s an old commercial from the ’90s. But how about Michael Phelps telling a camera that he eats a sandwich slathered in cheese and Fritos? Do you think that food will make you the winningest American Olympic swimmer of all time? Just looking at that sandwich makes us winded and our hearts hurt. We’d barely be able to swim a lap, yet alone a 200-meter race.

It’s true that nothing goes better with a football game than some beer, pizza and hot wings. But while our favorite athletes — who, let’s remember, are physical specimens in peak condition and brutal competition — encourage us to buy our extra-large meat-lovers pizza with garlic butter sauce on the side, those aren’t the foods that they eat when they train. Yes, we want to be just like our sports heroes, but guess what? They’re getting paid to tell us what to eat.