Gastro-Disasters: Spectacularly Appalling Food Adverts from Yesteryear



Mmm-mm. Dee-lish!  They sure knew how to make a meat paste look tasty back in the day. Just show it being squeezed through a grinder – always a mouth-watering visual.

This is an example of where the food might actually have tasted just fine (depending on your tastes), but, before the advent of the “food stylist”, things often looked ghastly in their advertisements.  We’ve become so accustomed to highly-polished, Photoshopped food presentation, that food in vintage advertising just looks unpalatable.

Here are some adverts from decades past where the food may or may not have tasted fine, but the presentation makes things look downright inedible by today’s standards.  Bon appetit! 


food advertising

Okay, I can read that the bits that look like maggots are actually slivered almonds – but they still look like maggots!


Steaming sausages atop a mound of veggies and toast – sounds good in theory.



What’s in the blender? Answer: “A whole new world of cooking…. sauces you thought only professionals could prepare.”


Am I alone in thinking that maybe the raisins aren’t adding “a touch of magic” to these meals?


Eegad!  This is truly horrifying.


A sandwich only an Australian could love.

1968 food advert

Dear God.  I enjoy a big gristly hunk of meat as much as the next guy – but can we get a food stylist on the set, quick!  Evidently, in 1968, they didn’t know that we consumers don’t like our meat to look like it’s actually part of an animal.


Those are some deep red wieners!  (And is the pile of radishes in the corner really necessary?)


No amount of garnish can save this gastro-abomination.


To be fair, I’m not sure it’s possible to make mustard pickles look appetizing.



Sweet Lord, that’s a lot of fake mayonnaise.  This should fulfill your fake-mayonnaise allowance for the next couple years.


These Polynesian Meat Rolls are spectacularly appalling.


For more truly unsavory meats check out this article: Ugly Vintage Meats: Before There Were Food Stylists


I can think of a lot of ways to describe this snack – “pure natural goodness” isn’t one of them.


Rule #1 for food stylists: Make sure your food doesn’t look like it has a bloody tumor.


Wow.  That’s an impressive wedge of fat on that veal chop!

hot dog vintage advert

Try serving these at your next party.  You’ll be the talk of the town.


A pizza with Chef-Boy-Ar-Dee sauce, anchovies, boiled eggs, raw onion and a center of caviar?  Well, there’s no denying it’s original.  And how about those chicken legs – don’t they look tasty?


Call me crazy, but I’m thinking they could’ve made that ham look a bit more appealing.  As it stands, I think I feel a tad squeamish – let’s call it day.  Until next time.

Would you like to support Flashbak?

Please consider making a donation to our site. We don't want to rely on ads to bring you the best of visual culture. You can also support us by signing up to our Mailing List. And you can also follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. For great art and culture delivered to your door, visit our shop.