Are All Comfort Foods Created Equal? A Retrospective Analysis of Comfort Food
MetadataShow full item record
Comfort food is a commonly used term in the English language, yet research has not been able to agree on a common definition for the term comfort food, nor has it been able to agree on when people consume it. The current study aimed to unravel these disputes about comfort food. To resolve this debate, a sample of 322 MTurk workers completed a questionnaire on 8 comfort food scenarios, which included: break-up, celebration, cultural, illness, job stress, lonely, remembering, and reward. Results support the proposition that comfort food is a multifaceted entity. From analyzing participant’ personal definition of comfort food, five common components were found: emotion, taste, nostalgia, unhealthy, and preparation. These scenarios are discriminable as at least 20% of the participants reported having each comfort food scenario. Regarding the scenarios, the most participants reported having an illness comfort food. Overall, illness and positive emotion-evoking scenarios had the highest reported levels of enjoyment among participants. It was also found that reward comfort foods had the highest reported levels of guilt, and participants were most likely to avoid their reward and celebration comfort foods. Being unable to consume a cultural comfort food created the most distress among participants. It was most important to participants that their cultural and remembering comfort foods were homemade. Remembering comfort foods were found to be most often associated with another individual out of all 8 scenarios. Lastly, it was found that illness was thought to be the most comforting comfort food scenario. These results show the heterogeneity of comfort food and suggest that further research must analyze comfort food as a whole entity in itself.