'Indulgent' Names Get People to Eat More Veggies


Campaigns to get people to eat more vegetables could use a healthy dose of seduction, according to a new study featured by the BBC. “Indulgent” descriptions convinced more people to load up on vegetables than when the same dish was described in a bland or more health-conscious way, a semester-long study of a Stanford University dining hall found.

Published in JAMA Internal Medicine, the study analyzed dining choices at a Stanford cafeteria for 46 weekdays. During that time period, almost 8300 of more than 27,900 diners chose one of the vegetable dishes under scrutiny by psychologists.

The featured vegetables in the dining hall were the same throughout the study, but labeled randomly in four different ways. They either had a basic name (“corn”), a healthy name with a positive spin (“vitamin-rich corn”), a healthy name with a restrictive spin (“reduced-sodium corn”), or an indulgent name (“rich buttery roasted sweet corn”). Research assistants surreptitiously noted how many diners chose the vegetables each day, and weighed the serving bowls to determine how much of the food was taken.

Turnwald et al., JAMA Internal Medicine (2017)

At the end of the semester, the researchers found that “indulgent” descriptions were more convincing than basic names or health-focused monikers. People wanted to eat “slow-roasted caramelized zucchini bites,” not “lighter-choice zucchini.” (Can you blame them?)

The indulgent labels convinced 25 percent more people to grab a plate than the basic labels. The healthy labels weren’t nearly as effective—41 percent more diners chose indulgent veggies compared to the healthy-restrictive or healthy-positive labels. People also took greater quantities of the indulgently labeled veggies compared to any of the other conditions (though the difference wasn’t enough to be significant in the healthy-positive condition).

The researchers write that the results “represent a robust, applicable strategy for increasing vegetable consumption in adults: using the same indulgent, exciting, and delicious descriptors as more popular, albeit less healthy, foods.” In other words: If you want people to do what’s best for them, don’t tell them it’s healthy; tell them it’s delicious.

[h/t BBC]

Amazon's Under-the-Radar Coupon Page Features Deals on Home Goods, Electronics, and Groceries

Stock Catalog, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
Stock Catalog, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

Now that Prime Day is over, and with Black Friday and Cyber Monday still a few weeks away, online deals may seem harder to come by. And while it can be a hassle to scour the internet for promo codes, buy-one-get-one deals, and flash sales, Amazon actually has an extensive coupon page you might not know about that features deals to look through every day.

As pointed out by People, the coupon page breaks deals down by categories, like electronics, home & kitchen, and groceries (the coupons even work with SNAP benefits). Since most of the deals revolve around the essentials, it's easy to stock up on items like Cottonelle toilet paper, Tide Pods, Cascade dishwasher detergent, and a 50 pack of surgical masks whenever you're running low.

But the low prices don't just stop at necessities. If you’re looking for the best deal on headphones, all you have to do is go to the electronics coupon page and it will bring up a deal on these COWIN E7 PRO noise-canceling headphones, which are now $80, thanks to a $10 coupon you could have missed.

Alternatively, if you are looking for deals on specific brands, you can search for their coupons from the page. So if you've had your eye on the Homall S-Racer gaming chair, you’ll find there's currently a coupon that saves you 5 percent, thanks to a simple search.

To discover all the deals you have been missing out on, head over to the Amazon Coupons page.

Sign Up Today: Get exclusive deals, product news, reviews, and more with the Mental Floss Smart Shopping newsletter!

A Short, Sweet History of Candy Corn

Love it or hate it, candy corn is here to stay.
Love it or hate it, candy corn is here to stay.
Evan-Amos, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Depending on which survey you happen to be looking at, candy corn is either the best or the worst Halloween candy ever created. If that proves anything, it’s that the tricolor treat is extremely polarizing. But whether you consider candy corn a confectionery abomination or the sweetest part of the spooky season, you can’t deny that it’s an integral part of the holiday—and it’s been around for nearly 150 years.

On this episode of Food History, Mental Floss’s Justin Dodd is tracing candy corn’s long, storied existence all the way back to the 1880s, when confectioner George Renninger started molding buttercream into different shapes—including corn kernels, which he tossed at actual chickens to see if it would fool them. His white-, orange-, and yellow-striped snack eventually caught the attention of Goelitz Confectionery Company (now Jelly Belly), which started mass-producing what was then sometimes called “chicken feed” rather than “candy corn.”

But what exactly is candy corn? Why do we associate it with Halloween? And will it ever disappear? Find answers to these questions and more in the video below.

For more fascinating food history and other videos, subscribe to the Mental Floss YouTube channel here.