Every day, I am intrigued and tempted by gorgeous photographs of food. With the advent of the multipixel phone camera and high-powered processing/social media apps like Hipstamatic, Lo-Mob, Snapseed, and Instagram, anyone who is inclined to do so can take the most luscious-looking pictures of even a humble burger-and-fries-combo. This is a far, FAR cry from the food photography I was subjected to as a kid in magazines, where ALL food -- ALL -- looked like crimes against humanity. I'm not kidding; in all the food ads and articles, everything looked so weird and wrong and unappetizing I'm somewhat amazed that we all weren't reactively anorexic. It looked bad back then, and it looks even worse now.
Why was this so? I've endeavored to find the answer for you on Our Friend Internet today, with little success. Was it that food really looked worse back then? Not mostly, no. Was it the cameras and/or film used then, the lighting maybe? Only a tiny bit of the answer. I am thinking it was the particular print process of the time, which did not offer a full range of colors. It often made some colors lurid and over-saturated while desaturating and muting others until they were all some tone of puce. You don't realize the allure of color in making food appetizing until you see things that look so vile you'd turn them down on your hungriest day.
Because I am your best friend, I'm going to share with you fifteen horrid food photo examples from some '50s-era Family Circle and Good Housekeeping magazines I recently scooped up while thrifting in Wisconsin. Disclaimer: I'm going to be pretty blunt in my descriptions, so if you have a sensitive stomach or sensibility, you should probably just stop reading here and go stare at a wall or something.
A staple of "women's magazines" is to offer the burnt-out hausfrau a monthly-meal planner, so she doesn't have to keep serving Kraft Mac n' Cheese 3 times a week or go on a killing spree Now, just look at those suggestions for October meals. All of them look rancid and/or teaming with parasites.
Ladies and gentlemen... the "Spam Cake!" Aw, man. No. It looks like a meat band-aid.
Oh, dear. The middle of the plate looks like two urinal cakes covered in pus.
The worst thing in these photos is always MEAT. Raw meat = 1000 times WORSE. It looks like a surgical disaster. Which for the cow, IT WAS.
I'm not a big frosting fan to begin with, but seeing this waxy-shiny gloppy horror gives me instant diabetes. Learn to frost why don't you, CROCKER!
Salads and casseroles always looked SO BAD. I mean, LOOK at that bowl of stomach bile on the top!!! This makes me shudder.
What a congealed nasty mess. So much effort, so little appeal. Leave this picnic to the ants, or Aunts, if you don't like them.
Would you care for a Vomit Sandwich with a hefty side of savory larvae?
I guess the secret ingredient here must be Pepto-Bismal, which, when you think of it, is a genius move of gastric efficiency in this case.
As I held this page open, MissTen walked up behind me. "EWWWW!" she said. "EXACTLY!" I replied. "What is it??" she inquired. "Tuna casserole." I answered. "That doesn't look anything like tuna casserole at ALL," she observed. "RIGHT," I concurred.
This looks EXACTLY like the crap log I cleaned up once after the dog ate a box of crayons.
How can you make COFFEE look bad?? By pouring into it what looks like runny, expired cottage cheese. BARF!
Why would you offer your guests a dessert made of whimsical shellacked peaches on beds of cat hairballs?
You might as well re-title this bloody vision as "The Texas Can-Opener Massacre."
And finally, all I have to say is...
Scary 1950s Food