As if our physical appearance, hairstyle, fashion choices and conversation weren’t enough to stress over at the beginning of a relationship, a new survey of 7,000 singles from dating site Zoosk suggests food preference has a major impact on how we’re perceived as well. In addition to the survey, the site even took a peak at nearly four million profiles and first messages to examine how food can help or hurt your love game.
The research found that any mention of food in a dating profile will produce more responses, so that’s a pretty good reason to consider it. Thankfully, the site went as far as to analyze which food mentions perform best. They found any mention of guacamole sees a 144 percent increase in messages. For some reason, potatoes were second most popular with 101 percent. Chocolate ranks third with 100 percent, followed by salad, sushi and avocado.
Dating and relationship coach Deanna Cobden tells Playboy that we shouldn’t be surprised by the relationship between what you eat and who you’re attracted to–you can learn a lot about a person when they express their food preferences. “This kind of information can reveal a lot about a person, such as their lifestyle, healthiness and whether they’re adventurous, fun, sophisticated and so on,” she says.
If you like to cook, mention that as well. When singles articulate that they like to cook in their profile, they received 26 percent more messages. The word “foodie” saw an even higher return of 82 percent. But it’s not all good. Some food mentions deliver an opposite effect, so choose wisely. For instance, the mention of fried chicken or yams witness a 15 percent and 70 percent decrease in messages.
Still, you shouldn’t mention sustenance too early so you can save it for later–when it really matters. Researchers concluded that talk of food in an early message had nearly no impact on response. However, mentions of eggplants saw a 10 percent increase in responses and burritos witnessed a 7 percent decrease.
Good news for vegetarians: Back in 2015, the mere mention of being vegetarian turned singles off and resulted in 100 percent fewer replies. Now, two years later, a plant-based diet has become decidedly more attractive. Mentioning being meat-free in a message now sees an increase of 3 percent more messages–which isn’t much, but it’s still something. Identifying as vegetarian in your profile, however, can influence 52 percent more messages. This rate is even higher among vegans.
Now that we’ve mastered your profile, let’s talk about how food impacts the first date. This will come as a shock to no one, but the majority of women–59 percent–have a negative perception of their date when they dine on fast food. In fact, 10 percent say fast food is an immediate dealbreaker. Research suggests women prefer coffee dates. At Starbucks, to be specific. Men, on the other hand, don’t care much about where they eat.
The survey found millennials love a sushi date (and Cobden agrees that it’s a fun and interactive option), though dinner dates in general prove relatively unpopular among young adults. For example, OkCupid found only seven in 10,000 messages in a recent survey suggested grabbing dinner. Cobden believes millennials stray from dinner dates because there is too much pressure. Because so many singles meet online these days, they tend to opt for low-investment dates like cocktails, coffee or worse, Netlix and chill.
“What women want and what they’re settling for is part of this dynamic, many women lower their standards and are settling for Netflix and chill or booty calls that they think are going to end up going somewhere, but usually don’t,” Cobden admits. “They really want is to feel loved and adored and have a man put an effort into them. Not to say there aren’t good men out there, because there, but it’s up to women to let him know what she wants so he can step up.”
Now, onto the study’s worst revelation: the study denounced chicken wings as the worst food to eat on a date. By a long shot. So, buzzkill.
Alternatively, if you’re hoping to set the mood on your date, order some dessert. Specifically, chocolate-covered strawberries. Thirty-four percent of daters agree the sinful dessert is sexiest with 34 percent of the vote. Wine and cheese ranks second, followed by ice cream, oysters and fondue.
Are you taking notes? Basically, if you want to impress your date with a meal, steer clear of the ordinary. Be unique, stand out. “Conduct a tasting, choose a random cocktail that you’re both into, like a Whiskey Sour or Sidecar and go to three different places to see which you like best,” Cobden recommends. “If you aren’t into drinking you can substitute the item for something else, like a cupcakes from three different bakeries. Tasting different food trucks fare and visiting food festivals are also very good options.”
So there you have it. Food, if referenced correctly, can definitely help in your quest for love. And if that’s the case, why not give it a shot?