Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

People's Penchant For '"Comfort Foods" Linked To Happy Memories

Date:
September 6, 2000
Source:
University Of Illinois At Urbana-Champaign
Summary:
Why do people eat what they eat? In addition to a well-documented craving for sweet foods and salty foods, people eat foods that trigger happy past associations.

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Why do people eat what they eat? In addition to a well-documented craving for sweet foods and salty foods, people eat foods that trigger happy past associations.

Related Articles


Brian Wansink classifies such foods as comfort foods. The University of Illinois marketing professor who runs the UI Food and Brand Lab defines a comfort food as "a specific food consumed under a specific situation to obtain psychological comfort." To understand why people become attached to certain foods, Wansink and his students interviewed consumers selected randomly around the country.

"We asked them what their favorite foods were as well as open-ended questions about how those items became comfort foods," Wansink said. What surprised the UI researcher was that nearly 40 percent of the foods cited as bringing comfort to the eater did not fall into the expected category of "taste good" processed snack foods.

Rather, people frequently mentioned mostly homemade "healthy" foods such as soup, main dishes and even vegetables. "The popularity of these less advertised and less indulgent foods lends credibility to the notion that comfort foods are distinct from 'taste good' foods," Wansink noted.

Did comfort foods differ by gender? In a survey of 1,005 consumers, Wansink found that men and women both selected ice cream as their favorite comfort food, but then differed strikingly, with women naming chocolate and cookies as their second and third-favorite choices, and men naming soup and pizza or pasta. "With the exception of ice cream, males generally claim they received more comfort from hot meals and from main meals than do females," he reported.

Comfort foods also differed by age, with people 18 to 34 preferring ice cream and cookies, those aged 35 to 54 preferring soup and pizza or pasta, and those older than 55 naming soup and mashed potatoes.

Although people listed a number of reasons why certain foods became comfort goods, two reasons stood out - past associations and personality identification.

Wansink said that people cognitively connected past associations between foods and people ("My father loved green bean casserole") or events important in their lives ("My mom always gave me soup when I was not feeling well"). Some foods came to be associated with feelings a person wanted to recapture ("We always got ice cream after we won baseball games as a kid") and a few involved a recollection of the specific taste or smell of a food. "In all instances," Wansink said, "the feelings evoked were underlying factors in the drive toward consumption."

Comfort-food status also was accorded to products seen as consistent with a person's self-image. Wansink and his students interviewed 63 fans of Oh Henry! candy bars, which has a small market share.

"Devoted consumers of Oh Henry! characterize the candy bar as iconoclastic, unique and stylish in a 'think different' sort of way. In a follow-up survey, the respondents rated themselves as being iconoclastic, unique and stylish in a 'think different' sort of way," Wansink said.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of Illinois At Urbana-Champaign. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of Illinois At Urbana-Champaign. "People's Penchant For '"Comfort Foods" Linked To Happy Memories." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 September 2000. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/09/000904122756.htm>.
University Of Illinois At Urbana-Champaign. (2000, September 6). People's Penchant For '"Comfort Foods" Linked To Happy Memories. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 26, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/09/000904122756.htm
University Of Illinois At Urbana-Champaign. "People's Penchant For '"Comfort Foods" Linked To Happy Memories." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/09/000904122756.htm (accessed November 26, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Pet Dogs to Be Used in Anti-Ageing Trial

Pet Dogs to Be Used in Anti-Ageing Trial

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) Researchers in the United States are preparing to discover whether a drug commonly used in human organ transplants can extend the lifespan and health quality of pet dogs. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

Newsy (Nov. 25, 2014) The US FDA is announcing new calorie rules on Tuesday that will require everywhere from theaters to vending machines to include calorie counts. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Daily Serving Of Yogurt Could Reduce Risk Of Type 2 Diabetes

Daily Serving Of Yogurt Could Reduce Risk Of Type 2 Diabetes

Newsy (Nov. 25, 2014) Need another reason to eat yogurt every day? Researchers now say it could reduce a person's risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Madagascar Working to Contain Plague Outbreak

Madagascar Working to Contain Plague Outbreak

AFP (Nov. 24, 2014) Madagascar said Monday it is trying to contain an outbreak of plague -- similar to the Black Death that swept Medieval Europe -- that has killed 40 people and is spreading to the capital Antananarivo. Duration: 00:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins