As you know, taking a trip down to your local fast-food business, these are not restaurants let’s be honest, can be quite underwhelming. On advertisements, you see plump, delicious and juicy burgers rivaling any five-star restaurant, complete with fresh lettuce and tomato seemingly picked straight from the farm.

When your order finally comes out, it looks, well, just sad. So how do these food frauds create such delectable models for these ads? The truth is, the food you see in ads is actually a Frankenstein concoction made up of things like glue, tampons and even cardboard. Here are a few of the most infamous devices used by food stylists.

  • Tampons and Cotton Balls – You’ve all seen it before, the mouthwatering food, steaming hot as the camera pans around the meal. Well, there’s one way to do that, such as microwaving the food every few shots to keep it hot, or you could simply fill a cotton ball or tampon with water and microwave that and then hide said hygienic product inside the food. Delicious!
  • Glue – Anyone who’s eaten cereal before knows that it doesn’t take long for milk to make cereal soggy and unappetizing. The solution? Glue! That’s right, just like that weird kid in your kindergarten class who ate Elmer’s, food stylists use glue as a substitute for milk. Glue is also used to patch the skin of chicken in commercials to make it look more appealing, yum.
  • Cardboard and Toothpicks – These two materials are just a couple of examples of how fast food restaurants beef up hamburgers and chicken in ads. The reason that sandwich looks so much taller and neater than the sad, sad excuse for a meal you just unwrapped is that the ones in ads are loaded with things like cardboard and toothpicks. Food stylists use these materials to cleverly place lettuce, onion, tomato and patty all in their most appealing position. Paper and cardboard are also used to make chicken look bigger.
  • Glycerin – When fast-food chains want to make a product look cold and icy in commercials, glycerin is the answer. Glycerin is a colorless, odorless, viscous liquid that can also be used in your car as antifreeze. But food stylists use it in ads to provide a glossy sheen, and to mimic the appearance of moisture. That’s how those salad leaves and drinks look so alluring in commercials.
  • Blowtorches and Electric Coils – While that meat may look cooked to perfection on that billboard, most meats aren’t actually even cooked in ads. Instead, many companies use blowtorches and hot electric coils artfully to cook selected parts of the meat because cooking dries out and shrinks the food. Grill marks are then added with an electric coil for that hot-off-the-grill look.
  • Mashed Potatoes – You’d be surprised, but that delicious ice cream you’re watching in that commercial is likely mashed potatoes. Spuds are used by food stylists in all sorts of ways, such as making meat look plumper by injecting it with syringes loaded with potatoes. For desserts, mashed potatoes are dyed various colors and shaped to look like ice cream or the filling of a pie.