Revealed: The heartbreak of – gasp! – food envy
April 19, 2017
• Causes unrest at the dinner table, survey claims
• “We've all been caught eyeing others' plates”
It doesn't take long for food envy or dish jealously to set in once seated at the table in a restaurant, according to a survey paid for by the website OpenTable.
While it can strike at any time, food envy is most likely to arise the moment the food arrives (32 percent).
And for those who have experienced food envy, it can be enough to stir up feelings of disappointment (40 percent), regret (37 percent), and hunger (33 percent).
Women are more likely than men to feel let down or disappointed by their dish choice (43 percent vs. 36 percent), the survey says. For younger diners ages 18 - 34, food envy appears to be a more practical matter, as they are more likely to feel hungry when compared to their older counterparts ages 35+ (48 percent vs. 27 percent).
"We've all been caught eyeing others' plates from across the table, silently comparing our dish against those of our companions," says Caroline Potter, who holds the title of “chief dining officer” at OpenTable. "Sometimes we feel satisfied with our selections, but at other times, we've all wished we had ordered what another guest picked.”
The survey finds that nearly all Americans who have experienced food envy (91 percent) have pined for a different dish while dining out. For almost a third (30 percent), food envy has also resulted in some tense moments at the dinner table.
And while nearly two in five of those who experience food envy (39 percent) will try to settle things amicably to overcome the feeling of food envy by visiting the restaurant on a later date and ordering the dish they desire, nearly a third (31 percent) will push their companions to share meals or steal from their dish.
This may explain why close to one third of Americans who have experienced food envy (30 percent) admit it has caused tension with a friend or partner while dining out, with men and younger adults far more likely to experience tension than their female (35 percent of men vs. 26 percent of women) and older peers (42 percent of 18-34 year olds vs. 25 percent of adults 35+), respectively, says OpenTable.
Those who experience food envy say that indecision (41 percent) and a desire to experiment with new dishes but later regretting it (33 percent) are the top two reasons why it happens in the first place when dining out.
And while a majority (84 percent) admit to taking proactive steps to help avoid food envy when dining out, including previewing the restaurant menu beforehand (46 percent), glancing at what others are eating before ordering (34 percent), and asking the restaurant staff for recommendations (32 percent), alas, food envy still prevails.
About the survey
The survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Poll with OpenTable picking up the check. It was conducted March 16-20, 2017 among 2,198 U.S. adults ages 18 and older, including 1,679 who have ever experienced food envy. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling errors can be calculated.
OpenTable is part of the Priceline Group (NASDAQ: PCLN).