Dreamy holidays, make up inspo and even work-out plans... Instagram is showing and influencing us on just about everything these days, even down to how, what and where to eat. I read an article this week that claimed that 'one in five brits have shared a food pic over the last month'. So no the wonder dishes we are cooking and buying are getting brighter and more photogenic just for the gram!

Before the world of social media, people would have chosen where to meet their friends for dinner or go for cocktails by a recommendation or review. Yet people's obsession with pretty food and extravagant looking drinks has resulted in bars, cafés and restaurants completely changing up their marketing and PR strategies to make them as "instagrammable" as possible. Some places will even stretch as far as basing their menus and interiors around how their dishes and environments will look in photos.

A study from Zizzi has revealed that 18-35 year olds spend five whole days a year browsing food images on Instagram, and 30 per cent would avoid a restaurant if their Instagram presence is weak. I'm sure a lot of you can relate when I say eating out has become merely a pastime, a good way of catching up with friends - and when we do, we love to share it on the gram. In fact, it's now normal to sit down in a restaurant having already decided what you're going to order because you've spent a few minutes stalking on Instagram in advance.

So - what are these places doing to make sure they are the chosen location in their city to make in to the gram?

Even starting out with the interiors...

I have definitely been guilty of visiting somewhere for food or drinks purely for the back drop - there's just something about a good flower wall, or even a bath tub in a night club. You can bet if I'm in a cool café or bar with a quirky quote on the wall (especially if it's neon) it'll be featured on my Instagram or Snapchat story... and no one will be surprised.

Take 808 bar and kitchen in Sunderland for example, their interiors are to die for (see below), from a gorgeous bathroom to the most perfect flower wall near the bar, these guys have really hit the nail on the head when it comes to the perfect instagrammable bar - and don't even get my started on their amazing cocktails and food! You can tell as soon as you walk in who they're targeting and if you're from the North East and haven't been already I'd highly recommend (and not just for the photo).

Trying out Stunt Food

The food section on the instagram explore page can be a dangerous, dangerous place. From rainbow donuts to freak-shakes, as we scroll in admiration and think we need to try that - we're falling victim to the world of stunt food. Stunt food is particularly popular within fast food restaurants with the rise of competition means if you don't innovate, you're relegated to the "has-been" pile. People use interest, sales drop, stores close, and that's the end of that.

These items are made purely for the novelty factor. I mean, why else would Burger King make a green burger bun? It doesn't exactly look appealling. Or why would Starbucks think of releasing a unicorn frappuccino? But one thing they know for sure is that millennials will buy it, post and share it all over their social media platforms and influence others to do the exact same, even if a regular product would be much more enjoyable.

Burger King feeding nightmares with their Halloween stunt

The Starbucks unicorn frappuccino

It's all in the presentation

It ultimately all comes down to the food and us milennials love to take a quick snap/insta/boomerag/whatever if it looks the part. A bacon sandwich for breakfast or a toastie for lunch doesn't hit the spot like it once did - now we're all about that smashed avocado with the perfectly runny poached egg and the most aesthetically pleasing salad bowl you've ever seen. Who knew Insta could be good for the diet?

It ofcourse doesn't stop with the food though, that would be far too simple. How are these dishes going to be presented? Plates now have to be aesthetically pleasing, usually large oval plates, rather than circular and have some type of print and even occasionally on a board. Gone are the days of a cocktail in a simple glass - you now have smoking cocktails, rainbow cocktails and even cocktails in mini bath-tubs to name a few, with each place trying to be different and stand out from the competition. Millennials are particularly all about this, the more unique the better at the end of the day. It's exciting and I love seeing the personal little touches each place has and it the perfect outlet for creativity - not even just for the photo!

So - next time you're out for food or drinks, try and maybe resist taking that snap for the gram and just enjoy the moment. I don't know about you but I'm now very hungry!

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