This many quarantined Americans would give up alcohol if it meant their favorite food was still on the table

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According to a study conducted by OnePoll in conjunction with Farm Rich, two in three are reverting to their favorite childhood comfort foods. (Photo by Thomas Tucker on Unsplash)

Many of us have chosen to eat like a kid again in 2020, according to new research.

A poll of 2,000 Americans found — in the year of quarantining and social distancing — two in three are reverting to their favorite childhood comfort foods.

That includes an uptick in favorites like pizza (55%), hamburgers (48%), ice cream (46%), french fries (45%), mac and cheese (38%) and spaghetti and meatballs (32%), among others.

The study, conducted by OnePoll in conjunction with Farm Rich, looked at the eating habits of Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic.

It discovered the average respondent found themselves enjoying comfort meals at least five times a week.

But they aren’t just indulging in comfort meals. Turns out, the average American surveyed enjoys comfort snacking much more while being stuck at home (six times a week).

So naturally, 85% of respondents revealed they’ve also gained a few pounds — an extra six pounds on average, to be exact.

Millennials are spending more money on these feel-good food items during lockdown — averaging nearly $71 a week.

And it’s no surprise Americans are cooking more: roughly 30 more minutes are spent each day cooking in the kitchen compared to the same time last year.

When it comes to cravings, age plays a factor, with 75% of those between the ages of 26 and 56 gravitating toward comfort food more this year than last. In the 18–25 age bracket, that number was 54%, while 57% of those ages 57+ reported an increase.

When asked what they’d rather give up for a year, 67% would rather give up alcohol instead of 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.

And respondents are sure showing off their crave-worthy plates on social media.

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.

Almost everyone is turning to the web and social media for food inspiration with all this time at home — over 90% said their online and social searches for food inspiration have increased during the pandemic.

More time at home also means more time spent around the family dinner table. Two-thirds of respondents revealed they’ve been spending more time eating meals together around the kitchen or dining room table since March.

And it’s been a welcome change. Seven in 10 respondents said they’ll genuinely miss all the time they got to spend around the family table once the pandemic is over and things get back to normal.

“When things are uneasy, it’s the little joys that get us through, whether that’s FaceTiming with friends or stronger family bonds made over homecooked meals,” said Ciera Womack, Farm Rich Senior Marketing Manager. “And as these responses show, sometimes it’s seeking comfort in certain foods to provide us more relief.”

According to the poll, 41% said they reach for comfort foods because they bring them happiness while a further 39% said these types of foods provide them with something to look forward to in these uncertain times — and 33% said that it offers “stress relief.”

Three in four said comfort foods made a positive impact on their lives in 2020 and during the pandemic as they spent more time at home.

Most don’t plan on that changing: 69% stated they would continue to enjoy the same amount of comfort food post-pandemic that they are now.

Americans hold such a special place for comfort 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” in exchange for a lifetime supply, 28% would name their kid “Mozz Stick” and 27% “Ice Cream.”

When asked about what makes meals or snacks comforting, 47% associate these foods with great taste, while 36% said foods that enhance one’s mood or make them feel better are what makes something a “comfort food.”

And 34% associate comfort food with indulgence.

No matter the day — whether stressful or happy — 38% find themselves reaching for indulgent food as a reward or treat.

As more restaurants open back up for business, the comfort food meal everyone is most looking forward to enjoying at these establishments is steak (top spot at 30%), followed closely by burgers (27%) and pizza (26%).

Womack added, “Food is a common denominator in what gives us comfort during these stressful times, and this survey shows the positive impact comfort food is having in our lives right now.”

TOP 15 MOST DEVOURED COMFORT FOODS OF 2020
Pizza 55%
Hamburgers 48%
Ice cream 46%
French fries 45%
Mac & cheese 39%
Potato Chips 39%
Cookies 38%
Chocolate 37%
Cereal 34%
Fried Chicken 34%
Spaghetti & meatballs 32%
Mashed potatoes 32%
Bread 31%
Hotdogs 31%
Pancakes 30%

TOP 5 REASONS AMERICANS REACH FOR COMFORT FOOD
Tastes good 48%
Satisfying 43%
Brings happiness 41%
Something to look forward to 39%
Sense of comfort in uncertain times 38%

TOP 5 COMPONENTS OF COMFORT FOOD
Great taste 47%
Food used to enhance mood/feel better 36%
Indulgent 34%
Simple preparation 31%
Sweet 31%

TOP 10 COMFORT FOOD SNACKS
Chocolate 49%
Chips 46%
Cookies 39%
French fries 38%
Candy 37%
Mozzarella sticks 31%
Popcorn 31%
Chicken nuggets 27%
Cereal 27%
Peanut butter 26%

>> Download the video and infographic for this research story <<
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