Send in the Plows

Top 10 Foods for a Snowstorm

SoupTop 10 Foods for a SnowstormWho are they kidding? Every time a snowstorm is looming, reporters trot out clichéd stories about everybody stocking up on milk, bread, and eggs. Not only is it unoriginal, we’re here to tell you it’s not true. Soup and pizza are the top foods to stock for a snowstorm, not milk and bread.

Comfort is the theme of the top foods people want to stockpile for a snowstorm. Beer and chips round out the top five spots, alongside milk and bread. Eggs squeak into the top ten, tied with ice cream, hot chocolate, chili, and wine. It might be that milk, bread, and eggs would not have made the list without reporters telling people that it’s what they’re supposed to say.

That’s right. People want comfort food in a snowstorm.

Foods We Want in a SnowstormHow do we know? We asked, naturally. During this weekend’s storm, christened Snowzilla, we asked a representative sample of 250 U.S. adults: what are the top foods to stock up when a snowstorm is coming? The word cloud on the right gives you a idea of the most common unprompted answers, with the size of the word representing the frequency of the response.

To understand why comfort food ranks so high in the face of a snowstorm, a little brain science can help. Highly palatable comfort foods appear to reduce the physical, neurological, and emotional responses to stress. Research published last year from the University of Cincinnati suggests that comfort foods, especially with sugar, can suppress activation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis in response to stress. The HPA axis, among other things, fuels the fight-or-flight response to danger.

On top of that, when we are stressed, any pretense of rational food choice goes out the window. We’ve hit the limits of our brain’s executive functions and more basic urges take over.

Maybe, in calmer moments, we would do well to reconsider some of the foods that give us comfort.

Click here to read more from the Washington Post and here to read the study on comfort food from the University of Cincinnati.

Send in the Plows, photograph © chuddlesworth / flickr

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January 24, 2016

4 Responses to “Top 10 Foods for a Snowstorm”

  1. January 24, 2016 at 6:29 am, MaryJo said:

    Soup is good! We need to build on this positively. Soup can be nutritious and comforting. With items in the home ready, such as frozen spinach or broccoli, some onion, garlic, a bit of olive oil, bouillon (low sodium , if possible), one can make a great pot of soup. With
    Or with any veg, like carrots, celery, mushrooms, tomatoes in the home, sautéed and added stock — voila- soup! Of course, many more possibilities — potato soup, bean soup, or any meat or fish based soup from freezer items. I like that soup was first thought for folks in the survey.🍵

    • January 24, 2016 at 6:34 am, Ted said:

      And it was first by a wide margin. Everything else was rather close. Thanks, Mary-Jo!

  2. January 24, 2016 at 7:14 am, Joe Gitchell said:

    For once, I am ‘representative” and “generalizable”!! I made potato/turnip/leek soup Friday night–modified from Enchanted Broccoli Forest cookbook.

    Go, Ted!!


    • January 24, 2016 at 7:51 am, Ted said:

      It’s funny how far out in front that soup was, Joe. You chose well!