Food choices swing with political leanings

Articles
November 23, 2009

Food choices swing with political leanings

Food choices swing with political leanings

Crunch into a juicy hot dog and smile, and you give no clue to your political opinions.  The same is true for bacon double cheeseburgers, ice cream without sprinkles, romaine lettuce, and salt on your margarita glass.

Consider these bipartisan foods, loved with the same intensity by self-described conservatives and liberals alike, according to data aggregated between April and November 2009 on Hunch.com. 

But many food preferences differ by people’s political views. Conservatives opt for more mainstream, comfort food staples, while liberals tend to enjoy more international and exotic cuisines. Examining consumption choices for meat, vegetables, fruit and “healthy alternatives,” conservatives select the less healthy options most of the time, the data show.

This could be lead to more than a light-hearted look at food choices. Should restaurateurs and food retailers subtly assort to their neighborhood’s party lines? Should they run Election Day specials, or election year continuity events – using findings like this to inform their offers of promoted products that might sell through at higher rates? At SupermarketGuru.com, we wonder how regional taste preferences match up with political opinions of constituents, and whether this could be an additional ingredient of success. It will take more scientific study to know any of this.

More than 64,000 Hunch users called themselves conservative (15%), liberal (54%) or middle of the road (31%). For lunch, for example, conservatives correlated strongly with peanut butter and jelly, pizza and macaroni and cheese, while liberals correlated strongly with Thai and Indian food.

Other correlation differences:
•    For dinner, fried chicken, meat loaf and steak for conservatives, vs. veggie burgers and green curry for liberals.
•    #1 cuisine choice is Italian for conservatives, vs. Chinese, Japanese or Thai for liberals.
•    Fast-food restaurant frequency is “at least a few times per week” for 63% of conservatives, vs. “rarely or never” for 92% of liberals.
•    Cheeses? Velveeta or Colby were named most often by conservatives, vs. brie by liberals.
•    Pizza toppings? “Meat and lots of it” for 73% of conservatives, vs. “veggies only” for 87% of liberals.
•    Birthday cake for someone special? Conservatives are 68% more likely to buy it from the grocery store, vs. 50% of liberals who are more likely to bake it from scratch.
•    Fresh fruit? 30% of conservatives are more likely to eat it less than once per week, vs. 30% of liberals who are more likely to eat it daily.