Fast food is good. Not always good for you, but a quarter pounder with cheese, hot tasty French fries and an icy cold Diet Coke is just about perfection. Right? You may prefer Wendy’s or Burger King, but did you know that it’s all trickery? 

Brian Wansink, Ph.D., author of Slim by Design: Mindless Eating Solutions for Everyday Life says that fast food companies are not evil. They just want you to come to their restaurant and not the burger joint across the street. Here’s how they accomplish their goal.

Word Play

“Hot and juicy!” Is it really hot and juicy? It’s probably warm and greasy, but you’re tricked into believing it’s hot and juicy because that’s what you’re told to taste. Brian says "Using descriptive keywords has a phenomenal impact on how we view a dining experience.” Of course, he adds that the food has to stand up to the claim, but when you bite into it, you’re tricked into thinking that the burger is hot and juicy because the ad is telling you what to taste.

They’re Everywhere

If they aren’t at every corner and freeway exit, the billboards are always in your face. With the advent of TiVo, Netflix, Hulu, etc. we can skip food ads, but we’re bombarded with ads on buses, trains, billboards and the like, and if you notice food ads pick up on TV and radio around lunch and dinner time. It’s the ads that are planting the seed in your brain. If you hear or see enough ads, you’re going to want to have a flaky, crunchy, veggie filled Subway sandwich for lunch or a hot and gooey Pizza Hut pizza for supper.

They Overwhelm Your Senses

All I have to do is smell garlic and I want to put my face in whatever is cooking. Just like when you walk in to a coffee shop, even if you were thinking more of a lemonade/green tea drink, suddenly you want a latte. There are companies that actually manufacture artificial smells that get pumped into restaurants and food courts that can make you crave food and can enhance the taste of the food as well. Brian says, "It definitely makes the dining experience much more attractive to people, but unfortunately it also makes you want to get the fries instead of the salad.” Not only are the smells created in a lab, so are the tastes. There are well paid researchers and lab technicians right now working on how to get the tomatoes juicier, the lettuce crispier and how to add spices to make their meat more tasty. And it works.

What’s Your Favorite Fast Food Joint?