Is it Live or is it Memorex©?

Hi All,

The question I am asked the most is—Is it real food?  Followed by— I heard you use…
And, Isn’t ice cream just Crisco®?

Well, yes and no. We use real food for 99% of everything we shoot. Truth in advertising laws state that we must show the real product being advertised, but the surrounding food can be fake or modified. That allows us to use Wildroot Hair Tonic, for example, instead of milk in a bowl of cereal. Hine-Photo-Cereal-Honey-Nut-Cheerios As I recall, part of the truth in advertising law stems from a class project by a group of law students in 1968. They wanted Campbell Soup Co. to run corrective advertising after it was discovered that Campbell’s ads had clear marbles in the bottom of the bowl to raise the vegetables to the top of the broth, making the soup look chunkier. We can’t do that anymore.

Back to ice cream. If I am shooting an ad for ice cream—or using the shot for the packaging—then the ice cream must be real, by law. If it’s just a prop in the background, it can be fake.

There are a quite few methods of making fake ice cream. The version used today by most stylists is Crisco®, Karo® syrup and confectionary sugar. This recipe has brought fake ice cream a long way since the mashed potato days. Hine-Photo-Fake-Ice-CreamThe biggest advantage of fake ice cream is that it lasts forever…well maybe not forever, but a long time. Real ice cream, on the other hand, not so much.

Shooting ice cream is a challenge and not all stylist will take on that challenge. It starts with prep work in the studio,

  1. Make sure your AC is working!
  2. Set freezer below the factory settings to “temper” your ice cream
  3. Distribute ice cream to bottom, or back, of freezer.


Ice cream needs to be frozen solid to get a good “pull” showing the proper texture. The stylist works in a cooler surrounded with dry ice to keep the ice cream hard. Even so, we only have seconds to go from cooler to set and shot before we see melting. Add toppings or swirls and the job gets more difficult. We need to keep the ice cream frozen while gently melting the frost over the swirls. We do this with a technical piece of equipment called a straw. You blow in one end, and air to melt the frost comes out the other.  It’s a lot of work, but we enjoy it, and we have produced some great ice cream shots!

And questions or comments, let me know. If you want subscribe to my blog and receive notice in your email, click the RSS feed icon on the bottom of the page.

T. J.

This entry was posted in Behind the Scenes.

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