Zoosk Data Study: The Ultimate Guide to Food and Dating

A woman eating a chicken wing after reading this ultimate guide to food and dating.

With the holidays coming up, here at Zoosk we’ve all been thinking a lot about what we’re thankful for (our health, our families, our friends, our dogs, a Dodgers’ World Series loss, the NES Classic Edition) and also about, well, food. And it got us to thinking… We’ve all heard that saying that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, but is it really true? Does food play a role in the way people feel about each other or about who we’re attracted to?

To get a glimpse into how important food is to blossoming love and personal relationships we analyzed 3,733,185 dating profiles and 364,609,566 first messages to find out how mentioning different foods and food-related phrases changes online daters’ romantic interactions. In addition, we also surveyed over 7,000 singles to get some insight into how food and dating intersect.

And what we found? In many ways, we are what we eat. Food preferences do have an impact on how we interact with each other romantically. And for the most part, any time food and romance come together it’s very positive.

Here are the takeaways:

1. Daters’ favorite holiday for food is definitely Thanksgiving
58% of singles asked said that Thanksgiving was the best holiday meal by far. Christmas was second with 25% and Easter was last with just 2% of the vote.

Daters’ Favorite Holiday Meal

 Thanksgiving  58%
Christmas 25%
4th of July 9%
Super Bowl Sunday 6%
Easter 2%

2. Talking about food in your profile makes you more attractive (but not yams)
Overall, any mention of food in an online dating profile is going to result in an increase in inbound messages. Some foods, such as guacamole, potatoes, and chocolate are particularly successful at increasing the amount of messages (users with these foods in their profile have over 100% more incoming messages than the average). There are a few exceptions however. Interestingly enough, despite the fact that it is both delicious and wonderful, mentioning fried chicken in a dating profile results in 15% fewer messages and yams are vastly unpopular resulting in 70% fewer messages.

Best Foods to Mention in Your Online Dating Profile

 Food mentioned in profile  Increase in inbound messages
Guacamole 144%
Potatoes 101%
Chocolate 100%
Salad 97%
Sushi 93%
Avocado 91%
Pasta 75%
Cheese 75%
Cake 72%
Burger 68%
Banana 66%
Biscuit 64%
Ice cream 62%
Fries 61%
Seafood 61%
Sandwich 55%
Steak 51%
Junk food 50%
Pizza 48%
Hot dog 41%
Sausage 30%
Eggplant 25%
Taco 24%
Ribs 20%
Bbq 17%
Burrito 17%
Pho 6%
Noodles 3%

Worst Foods to Mention in Your Online Dating Profile

 Food mentioned in profile  Decrease in inbound messages
Yams -70%
Fried Chicken -15%

3. Protein is the most popular food group
When it comes to food groups, protein is the big winner with 36% more messages than the average.

Most Popular Food Groups Among Online Daters

 Food group mentioned in profile   Increase in inbound messages
Protein 36%
Fruits 34%
Vegetables 19%
Grains 16%
Dairy 2%

4. Foodies are sexy
Other than simply talking about food, mentioning that you’re a foodie or talking about cooking will also result in more incoming messages. Profiles that contain the word foodie receive 82% more incoming messages, while those who mention the word cook receive 26% more incoming messages.

5. Chatting about food will only help you a little (except for eggplant)
Though mentioning food in your profile can lead to more incoming messages, it probably shouldn’t be the first thing you talk about with someone. For the most part, mentioning food in an initial message doesn’t result in many more replies. But there are some exceptions, the most surprising of which is eggplant, which gets 10% more responses than the average.

Best Foods to Mention in An Online Dating Message

 Message text  Increase in response rate
Eggplant 10%
Biscuit 4%
Sausage 4%
Salad 3%
Fries 3%
Vegetables 2%
Banana 2%
Pho 2%
Noodles 2%
Hot dog 1%
Pasta 1%
Sandwich 1%
Potatoes 1%
Cake 1%
Ribs 1%

In fact, some words may even hurt your chances of getting a reply.

Worst Foods to Mention in An Online Dating Message

Message text Decrease in response rate
Burrito -7%
Fried chicken -7%
Pizza -6%
Avocado -4%
Junk food -4%
Guacamole -3%
bbq -3%
Sushi -3%
Chocolate -2%
Yams -2%
Ice cream -2%
Carbs -2%
Cheese -2%
Grains -1%

6. There’s no longer a stigma against vegetarians
Back in 2015, messages that mentioned being a vegetarian were a big no-no and resulted in 100% fewer replies than the average. But now that’s it’s 2017, saying you’re a vegetarian is a plus. Messages that mention being a vegetarian get 3% more replies than the average. Though it’s not a huge lift in replies, it is a huge difference in just two years. In addition, if you say you’re a vegetarian in your profile you can get up to 52% more incoming messages. Being a vegan is a plus as well. People who mention vegan in their profile get 62% more incoming messages than the average.

7. Getting fast food on a first date is no problem… for men 
The majority of women (59%) have a negative perception of their date when they suggest a fast-food restaurant, while only a quarter of men (25%) feel the same way. In addition, 10% of women said going to a fast-food restaurant for a first date is an immediate deal-breaker.

If a date suggests a fast-food restaurant, women said they think:

  • They’re cheap: 31%
  • They’re unhealthy: 28%
  • They’re easy to please: 12%
  • It doesn’t make a difference (a fast-food restaurant is a totally acceptable suggestion for a first date): 29%

If a date suggests a fast-food restaurant, men said they think:

  • They’re cheap: 8%
  • They’re unhealthy: 17%
  • They’re easy to please: 27%
  • It doesn’t make a difference (a fast-food restaurant is a totally acceptable suggestion for a first date): 48%

If a date takes them to a fast-food restaurant, women said they:

  • Silently judge them, but give them a chance: 31%
  • Don’t judge them, a fast-food restaurant is totally okay for a first date: 34%
  • Suggest they go to another place instead: 25%
  • Make an excuse to end the date (it’s a deal-breaker): 10%

If a date takes them to a fast-food restaurant, men said they:

  • Silently judge them, but give them a chance: 17%
  • Don’t judge them, a fast-food restaurant is totally okay for a first date: 55%
  • Suggest they go to another place instead: 25%
  • Make an excuse to end the date (it’s a deal-breaker): 3%

8. Sorry, Aziz, the Whole Foods line doesn’t really work
In his popular Netflix show “Master of None” Aziz Ansari had some success on dating apps using the line, “Going to Whole Foods, want me to pick up anything?” Unfortunately, on Zoosk the line didn’t work so well.

Since the show went live in May, men have sent 3,646 messages using the now-famous line. However, the reply rate was the same as the average. That means, if you’re a guy trying to spark up a conversation with a woman on a dating app, it doesn’t help to ask her what she wants from Whole Foods, but doesn’t hurt either.

Women, however, have had some success with the line. Though there have been a very a small amount of women trying it out (only 49 messages since May) their reply rate was 31% above the average.

9. Seafood is the most popular food to eat on a date
When it comes to date-night fare, 19% of online daters prefer seafood. But surf and turf are both popular items with steak coming in second with 18% of the vote.

Favorite Date-Night Foods 

Seafood  19%
Steak 18%
Mexican 12%
Pasta 9%
Sushi 8%
Chinese 7%
Pizza 7%
Tapas 4%
Salad 4%
Breakfast Food 4%
Burgers 4%
Sandwiches 3%
Indian 1%

Other fun facts?

– Men would prefer to ‘meat’ their date at a Texas Roadhouse. Steak is 7% more popular with men than women.

– Millennials voted sushi as their favorite date-night food.

10. But stay away from the buffalo wings and ribs
When asked what foods they avoid on dates, 23% of online daters said buffalo wings or ribs. Other unpopular date-night foods are Indian food and anything that’s hard to pronounce.

Worst Foods to Eat on a Date

Buffalo wings or ribs 23%
Indian food 15%
Hard to pronounce food 12%
Garlic 10%
Spaghetti 8%
Shellfish 7%
Lobster or crab 5%
Mexican 4%
Dairy 4%
Spinach 4%
Corn 3%
Eggs 3%
Soup 2%

11. Chocolate covered strawberries are the sexiest food
When asked what the sexiest foods are, the classic chocolate-covered strawberries won out with 34% of the vote. Wine and cheese wasn’t far behind however, with 28% of the vote. But sorry caviar lovers, your favorite food was tied for last place along with sausages and hot dogs.

Chocolate-covered strawberries 34%
Wine and cheese 28%
Ice cream 12%
Oysters 8%
Fondue 5%
Pasta 3%
Bananas 3%
Truffles or soufflé 2%
Apple pie 2%
Sausage or hot dog 1%
Caviar 1%

 

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