Sexing Food

Last year, Carl’s Jr. released an Ad for their new Turkey Burger. The ad targets men by using sex to sell the burger. Miss. Turkey starts the ad by walking down the pool strip in a robe but then slowly starts to undress and reveal herself in a bikini with tiny turkey burgers printed on it. All the while, she is trying to make eating this burger look sexy. The makers of the ad decided to make it so that all eyes were on her so the surrounding people on the pool deck are either men who are middle aged and above and not in great shape, or women who are dressed in one piece swimsuits and sitting on the ground (0.03sec two women on the left) or who are in two pieces and being modest about it (0.25sec woman in the background slouching). All of the extras seem to be gawking over her and we, the viewers, are supposed to believe that they are staring at her burger and not her body but in reality the creators were aiming to get us to connect the sex that is being sold with the food that is being sold. As Kilbourne mentioned in her newest documentary, Killing Us Softly 4, our country is so obsessed with sex that advertisers have begun to sex food as well. The ad also relates to fat studies. The narrator states the calories of the burger at the end and a model, Miss. Turkey, is shown eating the burger to display to the viewers that it is “acceptable” to eat this burger without feeling guilty about eating it. The advertisers for this burger used the country’s obsession with sex and anti-fat tendencies to sell their burger.


Jean Kilbourne, “Killing Us Softly 4” (2010)

Marilyn Wann, “Fat Studies: An Invitation to Revolution” (2009)

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One Response to Sexing Food

  1. jennajoelle says:

    I found it particularly interesting that this advertisement points out what our class discussion was centered on during the advertising unit. The first voice we hear says, “In order to help you remember our delicious new charbroiled turkey burger, we hired Miss Turkey and in order to help you remember Miss Turkey, we put her in a bikini”. Carl’s Jr is clearly not ashamed to tell the viewer that they are using sex in order for the food to be remembered, as opposed to taste or nutrient. In addition, they admit that the best way to remember this woman is to put her in almost no clothing. This commercial is not afraid to tell viewers what we have been discussing in class. Sex sells, and sex even sells food.
    The company corporates are not ashamed of their advertising techniques either. Their target market is “young hungry men”. Thus, the woman in this commercial is being used to attract the “young hungry men” (women are used to advertise to both males and females, as men lust after the women and women may identify with females, taking on the heterosexual male gaze).
    This summer, I attended the road show presentation for the Initial Public Offering (IPO) for Carl’s Jr (CKE restaurants). Throughout the investor presentation the company replayed many of these commercials and were proud that they used sex to sell their food items (these sex-centric commercials were presented to a group of men and women in suits on Wall Street, a sight within itself). The company heads admitted that the turkey burger was aimed at “young hungry men’s” girlfriends. A lighter option because women would not want to eat their normal fattening menu items. The lighter options were considered an opportunity for expansion, as the men could now bring their girlfriends to eat with them. I guess they were marketing to young hungry heterosexual men. This summer, I felt uncomfortable watching these commercials. Now, I feel empowered as writing about them serves as my oppositional gaze to the company, when previously, I could not articulate my reaction.

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