Objectification of food

The rise of social media has set the stage for such Instagram-worthy innovations as Starbucks’ Unicorn Frappuccino, a colorful blended beverage that created plenty of on-line buzz during its limited run. For many millennials, it has become second nature to snap a photo of a meal or beverage before the first bite or sip, Ms. Moskow said.

“The picture is more than a picture of the food; it’s documenting where they’ve been and what they’ve seen and what they’ve eaten,” she said. “Now we’re starting to see these experiences and/or dishes start coming out with the sole purpose of engaging with a camera lens.”

At Black Star Pastry in Australia, consumers may order a Glonut, a donut with icing made with riboflavin, which glows under ultraviolet light.

“Nobody wants to eat a glow-in-the-dark donut,” Ms. Moskow said. “They just don’t. They want to take a picture of it, though. And it will go viral.”

A recent example in the packaged food market comes from Amplify Snack Brands. The Austin, Texas-based company’s Paqui brand issued the One Chip Challenge with its launch of the Carolina Reaper Madness Chip, made with the world’s spiciest known pepper and packaged individually in a coffin-shaped box. Consumers were dared to eat the chip and share the experience on social media.

“There’s going to be a lot more of that happening,” Ms. Moskow said. “It’s definitely a marketing angle, but I think it’s really effective.”