Social Media’s Endless Feed of Food

Have you ever sat down at a restaurant or coffee shop and watched someone take a picture of their food before they have even touched it? Maybe that person was you?

“Social media is an endless feed of food — drawings in cappuccino foam and artfully staged overstuffed hamburgers” writes Nina Strochlic, in an article from National Geographic. But did you know that millennials weren’t the first group of people to hop on the #foodporn bandwagon?

Cornell University’s Food and Brand Lab performed a study where they analyzed American and European paintings of family meals from the years 1500 to 2000. “The study compared how frequently a food item was depicted in art with how commonly it was consumed” (Strochlic). The conclusion of the study showed that portraying fancy, high-end foods such as lobster and shellfish were primarily used to flaunt wealth and status.

Today, posting our decked out burgers, overflowing milkshakes, and crafted cupcakes on social media is essentially the same thing. The bottom line is that we want to show off the food we are consuming, and we want people to, literally, “like” it.

Why do we still continue to do it? It all comes down to psychology. According to the Journal of Consumer Marketing, a study’s findings show that delay in consumption increases savory. When savory increases, so do the attitudes towards the overall taste and experience of the meal. So when people take pictures of their food before they indulge, that slight hesitation leads to a more enjoyable and worthwhile experience.

So the next time you go to post a picture of your meal, go ahead. Your long lost relative was most likely doing the same thing 500 years ago.


Strochlic, Nina. “Artistic Liberty at the Table.” National Geographic. Print.

Sean Coary, Morgan Poor, (2016). “How consumer-generated images shape important consumption outcomes in the food domain”, Journal of Consumer Marketing, Vol. 33 Iss: 1, pp.1 – 8.