IF you have ever queued for a McDonald’s burger drooling over the photos on the menu, you’ve probably wondered why your Big Mac never looks the same. Well, the fast-food giant has taken a candid approach by revealing the secrets of how it makes its burgers look so much juicier, bigger and tastier in its adverts.

In a surprising move, McDonald’s has made public the laborious process called ‘food-styling’ in which its burgers are prepared for hours and put together with absolute precision so they look their best for photo shoots. In a video posted on YouTube, the delicate process is shown as the ingredients are stacked, with the ketchup and mustard added using a syringe.

And, emphasising how different the beautifully presented burgers are to those bought in store, they are compared side-by-side with their less attractive counterparts.

In response to a customer’s question, a McDonald’s marketing director went behind the scenes of a video shoot for its quarter pounder with cheese burger.

The video starts with Hope Bagozzi introducing the question from a customer named as Isabel M. Miss Bagozzi said: ‘She asks, “Why does your food look different in the advertising than what’s in the store?” It’s a great question, Isabel. We get asked that a lot.’ The ‘food styling’ takes place in a photography studio where each ingredient is carefully prepared. Miss Bagozzi tells viewers: ‘That burger [made in a normal McDonald’s] was made in about a minute or so. The process we go through on the average shoot takes several hours. ‘I think that it’s important to note that all the ingredients are the exact same ingredients that we use in the restaurant. So it is the exact same patty, it’s the exact same ketchup, mustard and onions, and same buns.’  The video shows how each ingredient is carefully put into place, with the onions, pickles and sauces placed at the edge of the bun so they can seen.                 –MO

A McDonald’s food stylist explains: ‘This way we can at least tell people you have ketchup, you have mustard, you have two pieces of cheese and you know what you’re getting.’ After the ingredients are in place, the cheese is gently melted using a heated palette knife. A computer is used to add the finishing touches.

When the photographs of the burger made in the restaurant and the one made in the studio are placed side-by-side, the differences are obvious.

‘Here you can definitely see that there is a size difference,’ says Miss Bagozzi.

‘The boxes that our burgers come in keep the sandwiches warm which creates a bit of a steam and it does make the bun contract.

‘And the main difference is that we took all the ingredients that are normally hidden under the bun and we pulled them to the foreground so that you can see them.’