Over-the-top, intensely trend-driven, and visually arresting, Instagram food is almost always something to be obtained, rather than cooked or created. It’s elusive and aspirational, something instantly recognizable yet only minimally available, the product of a long line (a ramen burger or matcha croissant) or a trans-continental flight (going all the way to Tokyo for a Gudetama waffle). Its appearance in your timeline signals status: You went to the place. You got the thing. You’re the kind of person who lives that kind of life.
This is why Instagram stunt food works: It transforms an indulgent meal or snack from a physical activity to a status performance.