No matter what the most secure person says, we’re all a little self-conscious. We all care somewhat about what others think of us. Perhaps one of the most nerve wracking experiences for us all is eating. Whether we feel awkward about how we eat or what we eat, the act is often an uncomfortable one to share with onlookers. And if we’re not the healthiest eater, the process of ordering food may feel like judgement day.
As drive-thrus became more prevalent as I grew up, I recall hearing testimonies from obese people about their orders. I specifically remember a woman confessing that she’d always order two drinks so the employees didn’t think she was ordering all that food for herself. That way she could grab her over-sized meal in near anonymity and drive off with little notice.
Today, those who order food online may be pulling a similar “trick” in larger proportions. April Fulton recently reported on NPR’s food blog, “The Salt,” about a study conducted regarding online food ordering. The study was examined by Ryan McDevitt, an assistant professor at the University of Rochester’s Simon Graduate School of Business. McDevitt evaluated 160,000 orders from a pizza chain from a four-year period. He determined that online orders by the same people who had ordered on the phone or in person previously were 15 percent more complex, 4 percent more expensive, and 6 percent higher in calories. McDevitt pointed out the statistic that when online, people quadrupled their bacon toppings.
McDevitt shared his thoughts about the findings and felt that people feel less inhibited when ordering online. No one sees them, and there’s no opportunity for embarrassment that may influence a lighter order. Online orders are more anonymous than a drive-thru ever could be.
Not that the fear of judgement from others was a healthy atmosphere, but it may have attributed to smaller waistlines in years prior. After all, if one feels too self-conscious to add the fourth layer of bacon to their pizza in public, there’s probably a good reason for that – it’s insanely unhealthy! So perhaps the amazing smoothness and convenience of online ordering isn’t as rosy as it seems. Maybe a little public judgement is good for us all, just a little.
July 31st, 2012