What is it about beautiful displayed food that can get people hooked on social media, aggregating food bloggers and everyday humans an incredibly large number of followers? We have all noticed that across social media channels, more than ever before people have been highly active in sharing their daily meals, but why, and what is the #foodporn phenomenon really all about?
I’m probably just like the other ninety per cent of the population who owns a smart phone, and before stumbling out of bed catches up on WhatsApp conversations, work emails, followed by the latest babble and political dirty-laundry from Facebook’s feed, and Instagram for a daily fix of #foodporn.
In the past, a great amount of time was spent talking about food poisoning (#foodpoisoning?), today it’s all about #foodporn and #foodgasm. It’s not about a literal sexual content, off course, but these two most frequently used hashtags are generally used to represent the ignition of a desire to eat the food on your mobile device’s screen, normally presented in a sensual, glamorous and provocative manner. The images tend to fill forbidden fantasies (for those on diet), dangerous desires and dreams (for those with food allergies), while exposing private experiences in exciting settings (is it only me that feels deeply jealous when see a cold glass of Aperol Spritz being savoured while overlooking spectacular balcony views of Positano?).
Instagram’s scandalous images certainly tend to cause me with deep feelings of mouth watering and tastebuds tingling. Sensual caramel drips, oozing cheeseburgers, or perfectly neat, sexy spaghetti nests filled with deliciously creamy sauces, the images not only provide viewers like me with inspiration, but they also set the day with a desire for creativity. How can I get the same meal on my plate, or the very same feeling of happiness that person captured so well?
When I dig further about the #foodporn phenomenon, I found out the term “pornographic joy” became popular during the 1990’s on British television program, “The Two Fat Ladies”. The two hosts indulged in front of the cameras on great amounts of butter and cream, igniting a sense of pleasure and lust on those watching (hello, Nigela!). However, previously associated with decadent or rich foods, today the term is used for just about any type of recipe, from oven caramelised vegetables, colourful breakfast bowls, exotic cocktails or daily home cooked meals.
So, how do food and sexuality, two completely separate subjects, can be intimately connected? Simply putting, it all goes back to human evolution. Both food and sex are essential needs for survival - a person cannot survive without eating, and neither can humanity survive without sex, in the context of reproduction. When combining two of the biggest pleasures in life, it explains their deep-rooted, inherent relation.
On Singapore’s local TV, sanctions and regulations prevent x-rated movies from being broadcasted, so having a #foodporn addiction comes in very handy. And for my #foodporn preferences, show me anything with fresh chili, jalapeno, chili flakes, wasabi, or tabasco, and you’ve got me as your new follower - I like it hot!
Images by Wix