Why Are ‘Tasty’ Videos so Delicious?

Everyone knows that college students love food. Especially budget-friendly, easy to make food.  But what do we love even more than actually eating? Watching videos of food being made, of course. Although short how-to videos demonstrating various recipes have been a growing trend in recent years, ‘Tasty’ videos from Buzzfeed seem to be the crowd favorite. These mouth-watering videos typically range from 30 to 60 seconds, and show easy-to-make, aesthetically pleasing food prepared from a first-person point of view. They are always set to bright, cheery music and are often sped up, making the food preparation look fun and effortless.

These videos actually began as an experiment that stemmed from the ‘lifehacking’ videos on BuzzFeed Food’s YouTube channel. The new Facebook auto-play feature was making it easier to watch videos, and simultaneously helping to increase the popularity of Buzzfeed’s. The BuzzFeed team noticed that their series offering eating tips (i.e. ‘6 Fruits You’re Eating Wrong’) was doing especially well, and they wanted to further the idea of first-person, how-to videos. At the same time, they wanted to move away from the BuzzFeed brand, and create something entirely different. So, they decided to gear the videos towards Facebook. The result was a hit: three years later they not only have their extremely popular main page, Tasty, with the subcategories Tasty Vegetarian and Tasty Junior, but they also have six international channels in Britain, Brazil, Japan, Spain, Germany, and France. So what exactly makes Tasty videos so delicious?

Good marketing has a lot to do with it. The Tasty videos definitely have an aesthetic: clear visuals, colorful, easy to read on screen instructions, frames that are sped up to make the whole process seem easy and fun. But one of the key ingredients in the Tasty videos is the point of view they are shot from. Seeing the food being prepared from a first-person point of view makes it personal. Ashly McCollum, Tasty global GM, explains that “When you are holding your phone and looking [at] it and it feels like it’s your hands, that is a big factor in why you feel connected to the media”. She also noted how their videos aim to make connections between other people: “What we did is build content around the concept that people would share it with people in their lives. It’s not just how to make the recipe…It gives you a reason to reach out to your friend. It allows you to connect with another person.”

It’s also important that audiences feel as if they could actually make the recipes themselves. Andrew Gauthier, an executive video producer and creative brain behind Tasty, noted that “The process has to be as real as possible”, which means that from time to time, there will be some spilled frosting on the counter. And that’s okay. McCollum also noted that “99% of food media is made by food processionals, but 99% of food is made by amateurs” and Tasty tries to fill that gap. In the words of Chef Gusteau from Ratatouille—“Anyone can cook!”.

Besides the aesthetically pleasing food and the sense that you can DIY, Tasty videos also feature bright, fun music which make the environment even more relaxed. All these variables combined with Facebook’s strategic algorithms and auto play feature make watching how to make Oreo fudge brownies almost as addictive as eating them.  

But why are we so hooked on these kinds of videos in the first place? After all, isn’t biting into a gooey chocolate chip cookie better than watching someone else make them? The truth is, researchers aren’t exactly sure why people love so called ‘food porn’ so much. One psychology study found that food is more appealing when moving, so “we rate a picture of a glass of orange juice as significantly more appealing when juice can be seen being poured into the glass than when the image of a glass that has already been filled”. Tasty videos have certainly utilized this human instinct. The study also found that “food imagery is most visually appealing when the viewer’s brains finds it easy to simulate the act of eating, for example, when the food is seen from a first-person perspective”. Tasty videos certainly use this to their advantage—not only are they shot from a first-person perspective, but at the end of each video, the dish that is made has a bite taken out of it, and then is set on the table, while someone says “Oh, yes!” in the background.

No matter what the real reason that we can’t stop watching these videos is, I’ve decided to embrace my addiction to them. Thankfully, Tasty has provided me many tools to do so—they have their own website, iPhone app, and now, just in time for the holidays, their very own cookbook. Oh, yes!

 

Further Reading:

https://www.fastcompany.com/3065116/why-buzzfeeds-recipe-videos-are-so-insanely-popular

https://www.newyorker.com/business/currency/how-recipe-videos-colonized-your-facebook-feed

https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2015/04/what-food-porn-does-to-the-brain/390849/

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2017/mar/19/science-of-food-porn-gastrophysics-alluring-food-imagery-psychology