The Top 20 Most Addictive Foods, According to Study

iStock
iStock

We all have late-night cravings we're not proud of, but it's not entirely our fault; the most addictive foods seem to jack directly into the reward centers of our brains, some by direct design. Now a team of researchers from the University of Michigan have created a list of the most addictive foods. Unsurprisingly, pizza reigned supreme.

The two-part study, published in the journal PLOS ONE, involved surveying 120 undergraduate students in one experiment, and conducting a questionnaire among 384 participants in the other. Participants in the first study, all between the ages of 18 and 23, were first shown the Yale Food Addiction Scale (YFAS), a "measure that has been developed to identify those who are most likely to be exhibiting markers of substance dependence with the consumption of high fat/high sugar foods." The scale is based on standard criteria for substance dependence. 

The participants were then presented with food picture pairings and asked to choose which of the two they were "more likely to experience 'problems' with, as described by the YFAS." (Of the group, 75 percent were Caucasian, and about 68 percent were female.) Among the problems they could report were eating more of a food than they intended to, being unable to quit a food, giving up important activities, or showing an increased "tolerance" for a food.   

The research showed that of the 35 food options, those that have been processed and contain more fat and a higher glycemic load are most frequently associated with addictive-like eating behaviors. 

For the second study, instead of choosing between two food pictures, the participants, aged 18 to 64 (about 59 percent male and 77 percent Caucasian), were asked to rate each of the 35 foods on a Likert scale from one to seven, with seven being "extremely problematic."

"It is plausible that like drugs of abuse," reads the conclusion of the study, "these highly processed foods may be more likely to trigger addictive-like biological and behavioral responses due to their unnaturally high levels of reward."

The results varied slightly between the two parts of the study, but pizza, chocolate, cookies, and ice cream placed in the top five on both lists. Here are the items that made the Top 20 from the second study's ranking (which the researchers found to be a "more representative, diverse sample"), in order of most to least addictive: 

1. Pizza
2. Chocolate
3. Chips
4. Cookies
5. Ice Cream
6. French Fries
7. Cheeseburger
8. Non-Diet Soda
9. Cake
10. Cheese
11. Bacon
12. Fried Chicken
13. Rolls
14. Buttered Popcorn
15. Cereal
16. Gummies
17. Steak
18. Muffins
19. Nuts
20. Eggs

Want to know how the other 15 food items placed? You can digest the full list here

Keep Your Cat Busy With a Board Game That Doubles as a Scratch Pad

Cheerble
Cheerble

No matter how much you love playing with your cat, waving a feather toy in front of its face can get monotonous after a while (for the both of you). To shake up playtime, the Cheerble three-in-one board game looks to provide your feline housemate with hours of hands-free entertainment.

Cheerble's board game, which is currently raising money on Kickstarter, is designed to keep even the most restless cats stimulated. The first component of the game is the electronic Cheerble ball, which rolls on its own when your cat touches it with their paw or nose—no remote control required. And on days when your cat is especially energetic, you can adjust the ball's settings to roll and bounce in a way that matches their stamina.

Cheerable cat toy on Kickstarter.
Cheerble

The Cheerble balls are meant to pair with the Cheerble game board, which consists of a box that has plenty of room for balls to roll around. The board is also covered on one side with a platform that has holes big enough for your cat to fit their paws through, so they can hunt the balls like a game of Whack-a-Mole. And if your cat ever loses interest in chasing the ball, the board also includes a built-in scratch pad and fluffy wand toy to slap around. A simplified version of the board game includes the scratch pad without the wand or hole maze, so you can tailor your purchase for your cat's interests.

Cheerble cat board game.
Cheerble

Since launching its campaign on Kickstarter on April 23, Cheerble has raised over $128,000, already blowing past its initial goal of $6416. You can back the Kickstarter today to claim a Cheerble product, with $32 getting you a ball and $58 getting you the board game. You can make your pledge here, with shipping estimated for July 2020.

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The Long, Fascinating History of Chocolate

Wikimedia Commons//Public Domain
Wikimedia Commons//Public Domain

Walk into just about any grocery or convenience store today and you're sure to find row upon row of chocolate in every imaginable form. While we have come to associate this sweet treat with companies like Hershey, chocolate has been a delicacy for centuries.

All chocolate comes from the cacao tree, which is native to the Americas, but is now grown around the world. Inside the tree’s fruits, or pods, you’ll find the cacao beans, which—once roasted and fermented—give chocolate its signature rich and complex flavor. While we don't know who first decided to turn cacao beans into chocolate, we certainly owe them an enormous debt of gratitude.

In this episode of Food History, we're digging into the history of chocolate—from its origins to the chocolate-fueled feud between J.S. Fry & Sons and Cadbury and much, much more. You can watch the full episode below.

For more episodes like this one, be sure to subscribe here!