What’s your favourite comfort food? Do you like to tuck into a Mac and Cheese after you’ve had a tough day, or is a tub of ice cream more your style? Some people like to hoover a bag of crisps when they’re feeling low. And is there anything better than chicken soup when you’re sick? Food certainly can make you feel better. But have you ever stopped to think about the science behind it? Fortunately for us, the experts have been hard at work studying comfort food for some time (you can find the full article here), and in this blog we will look at a few interesting findings. 

The pandemic has caused many people to turn to self-care to alleviate feelings of anxiety about the state of the world. And many consumers are buying food that will give them an emotional feeling of comfort as opposed to healthy options that they know are good for them. It’s no coincidence that people are turning to these foods in this stressful time. Comfort foods elicit feelings of safety and nostalgia. Experts believe that these feelings originate in positive experiences from childhood. 

Where does comfort food come from? 

The foods are associated with positive memories of being cared for, and eating them later on in life is an act of replicating the original circumstances. So when you’ve had an accident and you down two bags of koeksisters, you are thinking about how your Grandma would make them for your pint-sized self and trying to recapture the happiness that filled your little heart. 

Interestingly, some restaurateurs have been known to put more comfort food such as Mac and Cheese on their menus during tough economic times. During these times, consumer trends move away from the low calorie or high-concept dishes and more towards basic food options that have nostalgic qualities. It is worth developing the homely and dependable aspects of your brand during times like these. But it’s also hard to nail down a universal agreement on what constitutes comfort food because it can differ from person to person. 

Since comfort food is strongly associated with childhood memories, it obviously changes from culture to culture across the globe. It can also be different according to age group. For example, some surveys indicate that chicken soup is the most popular choice among older people. Other surveys suggest there can also be differences according to gender, with female respondents favouring ice cream, chocolate and cookies, while male respondents chose ice cream, soup and pizza/pasta. 

What does comfort food taste like? 

Since it has a strong emotional element, this kind of food is usually characterised by more emotional senses: taste and texture. Most people either go for sweet options on the one hand or salty on the other. Textures can range from pleasant smoothness (for example, desserts) to enjoyable crunchiness (of potato crisps). Interestingly, comfort food doesn’t have a sophisticated or any kind of strong taste since it’s more of an emotional aspect that’s important. 

Does food taste different depending on how you are feeling? Scientists think that food tastes different to us in times of stress, and that’s why people eat more sweet foods when they’re stressed. And in evolutionary terms, the explanation is that you would crave sweetness for the energy boost required to get yourself out of a tricky situation. 

If you would like to get more insight into the restaurant industry, be sure to download our guide, the secret ingredients to a successful restaurant. With more than 30 years of experience in the industry, we have a few tips and tricks up our sleeves.

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