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Oh, You'll Eat the Carrots If I Call Them Something Fancy

Update Date: Jun 13, 2017 04:55 PM EDT

New research suggests "seductive names" make vegetables more appealing. According to a team of researchers at Stanford, veggie sales surged 25 percent when indulgent labels were used in the university cafeteria.

Labels such as, "dynamite beets," "sizzlin' beans," and "twisted citrus-glazed carrots," tempted student diners to fill their plates. Whereas healthy labels, like "wholesome," were a complete turn-off, even though the dishes were identical.

During fall term, university researchers labeled a vegetable dish one of four ways.

  • Basic label - "Carrots"
  • Healthy Restrictive label - "Carrots with sugar-free citrus dressing"
  • Health Positive label - "Smart-choice vitamin C citrus carrots"
  • Indulgent label - "Twisted citrus-glazed carrots"

The researchers also switched around the choice of vegetable - butternut squash, beetroot, carrot, courgetti, corn, green beans, sweet potato - to ensure variety.

At the end of each day, the team counted how many diners selected the veggie dish, weighing how much had been taken from the serving bowl.

The results of the study confirmed that the snazzier labels including, "twisted garlic-ginger butternut squash wedges" and "dynamite chili and tangy lime-seasoned beets" came out on top.  

"When most people are making a dining decision, they are motivated by taste," researcher Brad Turnwald said. "And studies show that people tend to think of healthier options as less tasty for some reason."

"Labels really can influence our sensory experience, affecting how tasty and filling we think food will be," Turnwald continued. "So we wanted to reframe how people view vegetables, using indulgent labels."

Quick Ways to Incorporate Veggies into Your Day

  • Sneak a few peppers, kale, spinach, or tomatoes into your morning omelet
  • Put them where you can see them - place veggies on the top shelf in the fridge
  • Substitute raw vegies for pita and crackers when snacking on hummus or other dips
  • Drink your veggies - try juicing to meet your daily goal

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