Have you ever watched a movie where the backdrop includes an extravagant display of a mouthwatering buffet? Maybe it’s a scene with a couple on a date at a sushi restaurant? It might even be an image in a magazine with a stunning seven-layer birthday cake. Despite how luscious and tempting these foods might appear, many are actually movie and TV prop food. Here, we explain the different ways movie and TV prop food is used with a little history explaining how it came about.
As mentioned, prop food is really fake food made from assorted materials such as resins, wax, and plastics. While Japan is often given credit for introducing it back in the early 1900s to help tourists understand Japanese menus, it actually dates back to ancient Egypt. When the rich or royalty died, fake food was prepared to provide sustenance for their journey to the next life. In this case, however, the food was actually preserved.
The Japanese had candle makers create the wax displays for restaurants, but today vinyl chloride is more popular as it is fade-resistant. While fake food can be found in many restaurant or bake shop windows, it is also a staple of most movie and TV prop sets. Whether you call it faux food, imitation food, or prop food, it continues to be used to entice the eye with lavish creations mostly still made by hand.
Prop food is used not just for movies, television, and commercial production, but also for theatrical sets for live performances, advertisements, and as props to show off wares at trade shows. Window displays in retail and the food-service industry are also popular uses for prop food. Any circumstance where real food would not be safe to display, prop food comes in handy, including for:
Because they are designed with materials that are long lasting, window displays can keep for years, making prop foods a worthwhile investment for bakeries, restaurants, and various retailers.
Basically, if you can name a food, it can be created. While props are available for rent, they are also often custom designed. Foods include everything from detailed fruit and cheese platters to charcuterie boards, and from stunning multi-tiered cakes to burgers and fries. There really is no limit to the prop foods you can find or have made.
An unexpected place you might find prop food is in the kitchen or dining room at an open house. Real estate agents and home stagers have discovered how food props can help people imagine themselves living the high life. Model homes such as condo apartments or new subdivisions are also using food props, as they are non-perishable and can remain in place until the final home or unit is sold.
As a finishing touch, prop food can really set the tone helping buyers envision themselves entertaining or whipping up a cake in their new kitchen. So, while some real estate agents still use the old sales trick of popping a tray of chocolate chip cookies or brownies in the oven to create a homey feel, many stagers invest in food props that can be used over and over again from one open house to another.
Food props are often used as the finishing touch to show off dining sets in high-end furniture stores and showrooms. Instore displays with details such as food can also provide that real-time feel of being there, and experiencing what it would be like to set the table and serve up a meal to loved ones in your own home.
From kitchen renovation projects to home interior makeovers, design centres and showrooms also use food props to create a sense of aspirational living. Kitchens with bowls of fruit, cakes under a pretty glass cake stand, cookies, or even chopping boards with fake ingredients all help set the stage for the dream lifestyle that homeowners desire.
Photographers often invest in food props to use for photo shoots, whether it is a commercial shoot for a catalogue, the backdrop for advertisements, or even for something like a married couple cutting a cake. Fake cakes can be created very affordably using Styrofoam circles and actual icing for a one-off shoot as well.
Event planners and designers will often use prop food to create extravagant centerpieces or other decorative elements throughout a space. For example, fake fruit can be added to urns, frosted fruit is an effective holiday décor item, and pumpkins can be used for seasonal décor for conference and banquet halls.
Eco-friendly food props for baked goods such as tarts and cookies can actually be made by non-perishable salt doughs. Once prepared, these items can be set in an oven and coated, or left as they are. Food dyes add authentic colouring, while the dough itself is the ideal texture for many baked goods.
It might seem a waste to create fake beverages, but they are also available. They are created using polyester resins, and can be good for perishable drinks like milk shakes, extravagant glasses of fancy coffees, or seasonal drinks such as hot chocolate. The resins can also create a clear beverage complete with fizzy bubbles.
Because prop food is often created by hand, there is a group of collectors who view the pieces as art. There is a whole community of prop food collectors, with the current record holder owning more than 8,000 pieces. Respect for the finite detail and truly believable appearance of the fake food pieces is what attracts collectors to these unique items.
If you are looking for movie and TV props for your next project, speak to our team at Club Ink today. Call us at 416-694-1996 or contact us here.