Survey Shows Americans Relishing Comfort Foods that Bring Happiness

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In year of government-imposed quarantining and social distancing due to the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic that started in China and infected the world – many Americans have chosen to eat like a kid again, according to new research. No matter gender, age or location, feel-good, nostalgic food has made a huge comeback.

A recent poll of 2,000 Americans found that two in three are reverting to childhood food favorites and eating more comfort food during the pandemic. That includes an uptick in such favorites as pizza (55%), hamburgers (48%), ice cream (46%), french fries (45%), macaroni and cheese (38%), spaghetti and meatballs (32%) and other popular eats.

The study, conducted by OnePoll in conjunction with Farm Rich, the St. Simons Island, Georgia, USA-based producer of frozen snacks and appetizers, looks at the eating habits of Americans during the Covid-19 health crisis and discovered that the average person is enjoying comfort meals at least five times a week and snacks six times a week in 2020. See the survey video here.

Survey Quick Bites:

  • 69% say they’ll continue to enjoy the same amount of comfort food that they are now, post-pandemic.
  • 41% reach for comfort food to bring happiness.
  • 85% have gained a few pounds staying at home: an extra six pounds on average.
  • 90% say their online and social searches for food inspiration have increased during the pandemic.
  • The comfort food meal everyone is most looking forward to enjoying at a restaurant post-pandemic is steak.

In times of uncertainty and stress, it’s no secret people seek solace in food. Cooking, sharing, experimenting and reviving old family or classic recipes have brought small joys to lives and extended time at home.

Two-thirds of respondents reveal they’ve been spending more time eating meals together at the kitchen or dining room table since March, with seven in 10 saying they’ll genuinely miss all the time they got to gather around the family table.

“When things are uneasy, it’s the little joys that get us through, whether that’s FaceTiming with family and friends or stronger bonds made over home cooked meals,” said Ciera Womack, senior marketing manager at Farm Rich. “And as these responses show, sometimes it’s seeking comfort in certain foods which provide us more relief.”

Roughly 30 more minutes are spent each day cooking in the kitchen compared to the same time last year. It’s millennials who are spending most on comfort food items from the store – averaging $71 a week.

When asked what they’d rather give up for a year, 67% claimed they would rather forego alcohol than part with their favorite comfort food dish, and 67% would also give up social media over having to be without their go-to indulgent dish for a year.

Respondents are sure showing off their crave-worthy plates: nearly half (49%) of those aged 26-41 have posted a picture of a meal on social media while in lockdown, with men sharing two times as much as women.

Americans hold such a special place for feel-good foods and nostalgic childhood dishes that they would even name their kid after their favorite for a lifetime supply of it. Thirty-five percent would name their kid “Pizza” for a lifetime supply of it, 28% would name their kid “Mozz Stick” and 27% “Ice Cream.”

“Food is a common denominator in what gives us comfort during these stressful times, and this survey throws a spotlight on the changing American table in 2020, and how these types of foods are having a positive impact on our lives right now,” said Womack.

The Farm Rich-sponsored survey was conducted in July 2020 with a sample of 2,000 Americans ages 18-55+.