Archive for June 28th, 2012

Several years ago, I wrote a weekly newspaper column titled “You Are What You Eat.” An article in USA Today added a different twist, “Food as fashion: We eat what we are.” The author, Bruce Horovitz, pointed out the impact of emotions on food selection.

Food suppliers have recognized our penchant for incorporating emotional factors into food choices. Honest Tea, a company now owned by Coca-Cola, plans to change a major ingredient in a kid’s beverage this fall. New labels will boldly state “Sweetened only with fruit juice.”

Would you be more inclined to give your child drinks made with fruit juice instead of sugar? Do you realize that in the process of making fruit juice into a sweetener, it becomes nutritionally the same as sugar? Our brains tell us fruit juice is good and sugar is bad. Those decisions are based on emotions—not facts.

Consumers want to know they can trust products and product labels. As astute listeners and shoppers, they react with fear to weekly announcements about food issues from pink slime to supersized sugary drinks. The food industry and restaurants recognized those emotional links and responded to consumers’ needs.

Applebee’s developed menu choices to help customers connect with the fall football mania. Their revamped “brew pub pretzel” and “beer cheese dip” gave patrons an added sense of being inside the stadium instead of perched on a barstool.

At the same time, food establishments and industries noted the nostalgia of eating comfort foods of yesteryears. British Airways replaced fancy desserts with Crumb Crumble Cobbler and discovered customers’ preference for comfort foods. Foods from childhood make a hit.

Other examples of emotional links include the surge in local grown products. Consumers want to know the source of the food they eat and a host of other issues. They have become leery of artificial foods, designer foods, and the hormones and antibiotics used in food production. They insist on information about what they eat while at the same time long for comforts as simple as china plates.

We’re all a product of what we choose to eat. But in today’s culture, food selections identify our emotional bent because we tend to eat what we are.

For more information, go to http://www.usatoday.com/money/industries/food/story/2012-05-21/

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