When a cool character cracks open a can of a well-known branded drink on screen, do you barely notice or roll your eyes? Whatever your reaction, their choices may well be influencing yours.
Food is a powerful narrative device in film and product placement is highly lucrative. Put the two together and show business becomes big business for the food industry.
Emily Thomas finds out how the product placement of food in film has changed over time and where it’s headed, as new technology makes it ever easier for audiences to avoid traditional forms of advertising. She meets industry insiders from Hollywood in the US, Bollywood in India, and Nollywood in Nigeria, to explore how food product placement changes across the globe, and asks how it can enhance and detract from the authenticity of film. What comes first, the brand or the integrity of the script? What happens when they clash? And how much money is at stake?
Plus, we ask how the prolific use of product placement in Hollywood changed global perceptions of American food; how it affects our diet choices and... do baddies ever get to eat brands?
(Photo: Cinema screen shows superhero character eating burger. Credit: BBC)
The New Food Bank Frontline
Giving away unwanted food to people who need it, sounds like it should be easy. But in this episode we find it throws up some peculiar challenges. What do you do with 12,000 cakes, or vast amounts of unwanted crocodile meat?
Over the past few years food banks have been opening up in places they have never been seen before, from some of the world’s richest cities to its poorest slums. But are they always the best approach to feeding the hungry?
Three people who run food banks in Singapore, Nigeria and England join Emily Thomas to divulge the challenges of the job, from dealing with the stigma, to tackling corruption, or finding a home for rabbit food.
(Photo: Hand reaching towards row of tins. Credit: Getty images/ BBC).
After Party: A Look Back
Find out what happens after the show ends.
Emily Thomas catches up with some people who’ve appeared on The Food Chain over the past 12 months and hears about the unexpected things that can happen after you step off our stage.
Propping up the bar with her is an experimental archaeologist who said she’d happily taste food thousands of years past its 'use by' date. Did she do something she probably shouldn't have in a historical food vault in Italy? Joining them - the man whose appearance on the show may have changed the way you eat jam on a plane, and the woman who told us one of the saddest stories we heard this year, who reveals a new joy.
And when all that's over, we revisit the least savoury place The Food Chain has set foot in this year - the kill floor of an abattoir. But this time, we’re taking you, the listener, with us.
(Photo: Lindsay Ostrom, Farrell Monaco and Adam Smith. Credit: Lindsay Ostrom/ Farrell Monaco/ Adam Smith/ BBC)
Taking the Buzz out of Coffee
A former-coffee lover goes on the hunt for a decent cup without the buzz, and discovers why it's so hard to get flavour without a fix.
Emily Thomas delves into the complex art of caffeine extraction and discovers that taste is not the only challenge when it comes to taking the bounce out of a bean. The environmental and economic costs of decaf coffee soon add up, meaning a cup may carry a higher carbon footprint and be made with cheaper beans than the full-blooded stuff.
Could a caffeine free coffee plant hold all the answers? A botanist explains why finding a suitable candidate is an unpalatable challenge.
Or are we being over sensitive? A scientist explains why some of us react badly to caffeine, whereas others can fall into a slumber after two espressos.
(Photo: Cup of coffee with drop suspended above it. Credit: BBC)
Can a Strong Drink Revive a City?
Does bourbon have the strength to reinvigorate a whole city? And is it really wise to seek answers at the bottom of a barrel?
Kentucky produces 95 percent of the world’s bourbon and its history is richly steeped in the drink. But now its largest city, Louisville, has decided the future should rest on it too.
Could ‘bourbonism’ revive the city? According to Louisville's mayor, tourism based on the amber liquor is ‘shooting through the roof’. But, for many, alcohol is a gateway into other forms of addiction, and Kentucky is already facing a drugs epidemic. Alcohol-induced death rates in Louisville are higher than state and national figures.
In this episode, journalist Phil Reevell explores the emergence of ‘bourbonism’ through the city’s food and music scene. He joins the ‘bourbon trail’ which attracted 1.4 million people last year.
As the coal industry has turned to dust, large areas of the city have been deindustrialised, but Phil finds there are plans for the construction of more than 20 hotels, and that some tourists will pay hundreds of dollars for a bottle - or more.
(Photo: Giant bourbon bottle looms over cityscape of Louisville, Kentucky. Credit: Getty Images).