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Why That Pizza Ad Made You Hungry

Chain-store pizza commercials sometimes seem NSFW with their cheese sliding off the edges of gooey slices. Advertisers know this. Ashley Rodriguez for for Quartz tells us exactly why those “cheese pulls” work so well.

Many companies claim seeing the cheesy-goodness lifted out of the box and into someones mouth triggers a subconscious reaction. When we see the pizza, we want to grab our phone and call Dominos or Papa Johns. It’s a distinct feeling: “Advertisers use it to communicate with the part of our brain that’s not verbal, with the primal core of our being that doesn’t understand words but responds with hunger, thirst, arousal, desire,” Rodriguez explains.

Food52 looked to the book, Food Photography and Styling, to find out how these brands pull it off. The book suggests photographers cut a slice into the pizza crust pre-baking, then fill in the cut edges with cheese. After allowing the pizza to cool off, a “waterfall” of cheese will appear when elevated off the cardboard. Even though this method has been fool-proof since its creation, Domino’s pulled the plug on the advertising art a few years ago. The three-minute documentary below explains just how difficult it is to perfect and claim it isn’t worth the effort.

Domino's "Pulling the Cheese" Documentary from Andrew Lincoln on Vimeo.

This attempt at generating a response is not only used with cheese. Remember all the times celebrities waved their silky locks at you? The glossy red car going up the mountain at full speed? Yeah, they are basically doing the same thing. These commercials are pursuing this instinct within you to try and gravitate your wallet towards their product.

Feature Photo Credit: Anton Gepolov | Shutterstock

Becca McGilloway

Becca McGilloway studied Writing, Literature, and Publishing at Emerson College. When she isn't on the hunt for the latest cheese-permeated vegetarian recipe on Pinterest, she's probably binge-watching Gilmore Girls on Netflix.