Sampuru, Japanese fake food samples
Here is a great video on how they make fake food samples, called Sampuru, in Japan.
Plastic food replicas appear in the windows and display cases of establishments which serve food throughout Japan. Once made from wax, today they are usually made out of plastic. The plastic models are mostly handmade from polyvinyl chloride and carefully sculpted to look like the actual dishes. The models are custom-tailored to restaurants and even common items such as ramen will be modified to match each establishment’s food. During the molding process, the imitation ingredients are often chopped up and combined in a manner similar to actual cooking.
The craftsmanship has been raised to an art form. Japanese plastic food by the Maizuru Company was exhibited at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum in 1980. Regular competitions are held in making fake food dishes out of plastic and other materials. The food displays are called sampuru (サンプル), derived from the English word “sample”.
The plastic food manufacturers fiercely guard their trade secrets as business is lucrative; the plastic food industry in Japan, by conservative estimates, has revenues of billions of yen per year. A single restaurant may order a complete menu of plastic items costing over a million yen.
In recent years, Japanese plastic food manufacturers have been targeting markets overseas, such as China and South Korea.