November 28, 2006

Comfort food and gender

Brian Wansink, of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab, has a new book out, and an interview on Salon. Most of it I knew, but this piece of insight caught my eye:

What foods do you find people most frequently gravitate to for comfort?

We did a survey of over 1,000 people, and 40 percent of their favorite comfort foods ended up being things that are reasonably healthy for you — meal-related foods, like soup, pasta, steak, casseroles — as opposed to candy, cakes, chips and ice cream. But one thing is that men tend to prefer those meal foods — the pasta, beef, soup, casseroles — while women tend to eat more of the other things.

Why is that?

When we asked men, they said: When I eat meal-related foods, I really feel cared for, I feel like I’m important, I feel like I’m the center of attention.” And when we asked women about those same foods, women said: Yeah, we like them, they just don’t really give us that much comfort, because when we think of these foods we think of the fact that we’re probably going to have to make them, we’re probably going to have to clean up after them.” For women, they didn’t have associations of comfort. They had associations of work. That’s why women tended to gravitate more toward some of these foods that are less effort — ice cream, cake, cookies, candy, chips — all of which are pretty much pre-made foods. They don’t take much effort to dish up, or to clean up.

Hmm. As a flu-bound man desiring same, a twinge of guilt. However, I do do the dishes, so am I exempt?

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