Food samples in Japan - Fake Food

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You look at what appears to be a tasty dish. But the strange thing is that this “food” has no taste, aroma or nutritional value. It will never spoil and does not need to be kept in the fridge. What are we talking about? In Japan, replicas of food known as Food Samples [食べ物のサンプル] and these replicas have the same size, shape and color as the real dish.

They range from traditional Japanese dishes to western favorites like pizza and hamburgers. There are also replicas of drinks, appetizers and desserts. The variety is huge! Some food sample makers even offer over ten thousand different dishes.

Food samples in Japan - fake food

Counterfeit and replica foods are used in a variety of ways, such as background props in movies, television shows, plays, television commercials, print advertisements, fairs, and in many other cases where real foods cannot be displayed. Another use is in consumer nutrition research and education. Another way to find these detailed samples is on toys and key chains. Even in these objects modelers look for perfection in detail.

But its most well-known use is in Japanese restaurants. That's because junk food looks real. Details such as the crispy appearance of a chicken's skin, a slice of watermelon with its seeds, even the sheen and sauce of the food are perfectly imitated. But how did junk food become so popular in restaurants in Japan?


How did the food samples come about?

In the late 19th century, Japanese restaurants began displaying their samples of foreign food. That way, people passing in front of the restaurants could see what the food was like without having to go inside. Of course, these samples attracted not only people, but also insects and animals. The food spoiled due to the heat and humidity, so it was expensive to prepare these dishes every day to leave a sample.

Over time, these food samples were replaced by painted wax replicas. But wax had the major disadvantage of deteriorating in hot weather and was eventually replaced by vinyl plastics. This was finally a durable product, able to withstand the heat and at the same time attract just the right kind of customer.

What you do first is a mold of the food. To make a sandwich, for example, each component needs to be molded separately. After that, the process is the same as making a real sandwich. The items are placed one on top of the other between the slices of bread.


Such food samples are displayed in windows or outside restaurants to show potential customers what is available on the restaurant's menu. Although less common than it used to be, plastic food models are still seen frequently in a number of restaurants in Japan.

Chances are, you're not sure which requires more skill — making a plastic imitation or preparing real food. If you walk past a restaurant in Japan and see these delicious dishes in the window, remember the painstaking work that went into making them. These food samples are true art!

Finally, let's leave a video of our friend Santana:

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