Fast Food Statistics: US Election Illustrated with Hamburgers and Fries

Two German illustrators have visualized the most important facts about the US presidential election using burgers and fries, the stereotypical American meal. The playful images are packed with both calories and information. They also betray a few differences in how fast food is eaten in Europe.

Photo Gallery: US Election Statistics as Fast Food Photos
Lisa Rienermann, Anna Lena Schiller, Sylke Gruhnwald, CC-Lizenz (NC-BY-SA)

The hamburger is the quintessential American meal. The country that is home to McDonald's and Burger King has a long tradition of diners and fast food joints that serve up hot and greasy fare from open kitchens.

The burger culture is so deeply ingrained that when President Barack Obama veered off course in 2009 and ordered up a hamburger with "spicy" or "Dijon mustard" and, shriek, WITHOUT KETCHUP!, the outraged conservative media struck back at "President Poupon," wondering how a Commander in Chief could possibly enjoy his with French mustard instead of good ol' American ketchup. Of course, when his Republican challenger Mitt Romney dared to eat a veggie burger prior to a debate, it sparked equally indignant reports.

Burgers and fries belong to worldwide stereotypes about American culture, a fact that two Berlin-based German designers, Anna Lena Schiller and Lisa Rienermann, gave a nod to when choosing the calorie-bombs and their condiments to illustrate campaign statistics. The project, named "Binders Full of Burgers," is a reference to the Internet meme sparked by a Mitt Romney debate response about how he used "binders full of women" to find female staff for his cabinet as governor of Massachusetts.

Plate by plate, as more bites go missing from a burger, they illuminate how many Americans have the right to vote, and how big the turnout will likely be, for example. But the state of the beef patty, which is well-done, reveals that it was grilled in Germany, where even medium-cooked meat tends to raise eyebrows. Another detail that might stand out to American viewers is the tiny wooden french fry fork used by Europeans to avoid greasy fingers.

Further images show poll results illustrated with zigzagging lines of ketchup and mustard, which according to recent results are so close that they begin to mix.

The illustrators use hot dogs, of Frankfurters, to illustrate contributions made by German corporations to the the Obama and Romney campaigns. Most of their cash -- at least in these illustrations -- went to big business advocate Mitt Romney.

'We Ate It All In the End'

This isn't the first time that the duo has used food to explore statistics. They had so much fun using their "Election Waffles" to illustrate the 2011 Berlin state parliamentary vote that they decided to work together again during the US election.

But this time it required a bit more preparation, along with research assistance from Sylke Gruhnwald, a journalist with the influential Swiss daily Neue Zürcher Zeitung.

"We hope that the pictures once again provide a different approach to the really dry numbers," says Rienermann. More than anything, though, "Binders Full of Burgers" is likely to make viewers hungry.

Unlike most food photographers, however, the two did not treat the food with any chemicals to make it appear more appetizing. "One can tell right away if food has been sitting around for a few minutes," says Rienermann, whose photography has appeared in a children's cookbook. The trick to this is working quickly. "We ate everything in the end," she says.

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