It was recently brought to my attention that one of my Instagram photos was used in a piece about Instagram food trends. Not just any piece, but an article called, "That's Not Food, It's Stupid" written by Chris Stang from The Infatuation, the popular website and Instagram page that made Instagramming #EEEEEATS one of the biggest trends happening right now. While the title really puts the point out there in the most mature manner, I'll break down the article for those of you that don't feel like reading it. In his own words, Stang's main point is:
"If your goal is to get Instagram’s most excitable users excited, you’re going to have to dumb things down to absolute stupidity."
Now, I don't think this is the nicest way to convey a point. I don't think calling anyone or anything stupid is ever the answer, (I learned this when I was in kindergarten during a lesson about manners). However, I do agree that some people make completely, absurdly inedible pancake and waffle stack concoctions just for the sake of Instagram. I've seen it way too many times and I do not condone inedible food.
What Stang fails to address in his article is that these accounts are posting ridiculous food photos because they want to get reposted by popular accounts in order to gain followers. One of the most popular repost accounts for food pictures is the Infatuation, and several Instagrammers desperately tag #EEEEEATS in order to gain this food photography fame.
#EEEEEATS is the official hashtag community for the Infatuation, and it has turned into a photo archive that glorifies and promotes good food photography, which let's be honest, is full of texture, drippage, color, ooziness...you get it. It's a vicious #yolkporn, drippage filled cycle -- the Instagrammer posts a crazy food photo and the big food porn accounts repost. The big accounts curate more content and the small accounts get more followers. It's because of accounts like the Infatuation that these "stupid" food photos even exist. That being said, I think Stang's argument is just a tad hypocritical.
Drench any otherwise mundane piece of food in runny yolk, and pretty soon you’ll have twenty-somethings lined up at your establishment, not necessarily to eat your genius creation, but certainly to take a picture of it.
Huh...I wonder who ever promoted that idea?
I am a full-time food blogger and recipe developer who relies heavily on Instagram to promote my own work. I would like to point out that the Infatuation helped me get to where I am today because they reposted many of my photos last summer and I am so thankful for that. I would also like to point out that my main "claim to fame" is the birthday cake cream cheese bagel photo they reposted not once, not twice, but three times on their account.
This is the same photo Stang chose to use in his piece criticizing Instagram trends, where he so kindly says,
"You’ll need to appeal to whatever part of the young human psyche finds pleasure in absurdity. And you’re probably going to have to do it with sprinkles."
Alright, interesting point here. Now, first of all, that birthday cake cream cheese only became one of the biggest Instagram trends because The Infatuation decided to repost it countless times. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I really thought this bagel was #EEEEEATS APPROVED?!
Second of all, that bagel is edible. It's literally cream cheese mixed with sprinkles. That's essentially sweetened cream cheese. Sweetened cream cheese is used in a bunch of dessert recipes, so let's relax. It's not a bagel piled with candy bars, peanut butter, chocolate syrup, fluff, cookie butter and m&m's -- I've seen those before (some even reposted on the Infatuation feed) and those are definitely not edible.
Stang thinks that restaurants are going crazy with their menus to hop on the Instafood trend, creating "Frankenstein food abominations" to fit in and market their menus. Some restaurants may be doing that, however, Tompkins Square Bagels' birthday cake cream cheese was a menu item before Instagram existed. I actually did a segment with the man who makes all the cream cheeses at Tompkins Square Bagels and he has been working on those flavors for years. His name is Jonas and he is really nice. Here we are posing with a pizza bagel. Does this look like a guy that just "does it for the gram" to you????
Didn't think so.
I respect The Infatuation and everything they are doing with their brand and I think their website, app and Instagram are all wonderful resources for foodies in this day and age. However, there's a difference between inedible food and culinary creativity, and as someone who actually creates all of my own content, I don't think I (or anyone else who enjoys cooking or weird food combinations) should be criticized if I make something a little funky now and then. If restaurants want to be a little more ballsy and visual with their menu items because of this, good for them. If I want to experiment with spaghetti buns and make a spaghetti meatball slider, so be it. I will make sure it is edible and, yes it may be weird, but if it's edible get over it. Don't use my photos to support a claim about Instagram food trends being "stupid" unless my food actually has an IQ of 0-25, has been proven to be inedible, or has personally victimized you. I work hard to create my own content, slaving away in the kitchen, using my creativity to develop recipes, and I spend time trying to scope out some of the coolest and weirdest foods in the city because that's what I am interested in. Food is weird. Food is an art. Food is funky. Do not judge a bagel by it's sprinkles.