You Are What You Slurp:
Soup Personality Tests
(e-SoupSong 42: October 1, 2003)
Souppose you and me figure out your soup type.
Okay, are you sitting down? Is it cold outside? Are you hungry? Are you ready to be litmussed?
1. Do you really love to MAKE soup?
2. Do you like to eat A LOT of soup?
3. Is soup a favorite COMFORT FOOD for you?
4. Which of the following is your most FAVORITE SOUP?
NEW ENGLAND CLAM CHOWDER
CARROT & CORIANDER
BEEF & VEGETABLE
BROCCOLI & CHEESE
5. Do you prefer eating soup...
...WITH A SMALL SPOON?
...WITH A BIG SPOON?
...DIRECT FROM A MUG?
...DIRECT FROM A BOWL?
Okay, no fair changing answers in midstream.
Just for the record, here are my answers:
1. yes, I really love to MAKE soup.
2. yes, I like to eat A LOT of soup; or, anyway, I sure do eat a lot of it.
3. I think soup used to be my fave comfort food, but now I'm pretty burned out on it. Häagen-Daz rum raisin ice cream, though. Mmmm. Reese's peanut butter cups. Oh yeah.
4. Of the choices offered, I'd say New England Clam Chowder.
5. Big Spoon. And in a flat soup plate, though that actually wasn't part of the question.
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QUESTION #1: DO YOU REALLY LOVE TO MAKE SOUP?
British chef and food writer Sybil Kapoor didn't pass around a lot of survey questions, but what she says makes sense: "I found it's important to cook according to your personality. If you're messy or slapdash, choose dishes like soups and salads that don't have to look perfect, and avoid anything that requires intricate presentation. Express yourself through your food."
Need I confess, gentle readers, that there are good personality reasons why soupsong.com is dedicated to soup and not to the creation of, let's say, Aspic de Faison a l'Ancienne? Dear friend Art Meyer describes its preparation: First braise whole pheasants. Bone them and make a forcemeat from legs, foie gras, cream, truffle juice, etc. Spread on the boned breasts . Cover with white chaud-froid. Add truffle slices. Press into an aspic lined mold. Fill with aspic and set. Turn out onto a bread trimmed to the size of the base of the mold (buttered of course). Garnish with diced aspic and aspic circles.
No, give me my tiny kitchen, a book of short stories, a drop of wine, vegetables on the chopping block, a pot of broth, and forgiving guests any day of the week.
QUESTION #2: DO YOU LIKE TO EAT A LOT OF SOUP?
Now here we are on solid methodological ground with a big gold chip survey on what personality types are reliably "Heavy Users" of soup. Brian Wansink and Sea Bum Park (I am not making these names up), both of the Food and Brand Lab at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, telephone-surveyed 602 women and 401 men in June 1999 to collect "key personality and lifestyle traits, demographic information, and behaviors and preferences related to soup and soup consumption." Because they used "a mean-comparison method and a hybrid two-stage cluster analysis," they nailed two quite different personality types in the "Heavy User" category.
Type #1: Traditionalists. These folks--and you know who you are--enjoy home and family magazines, but are NOT affectionate, sophisticated, competitive, trend-setting, intellectual, nutrition conscious, fun loving, sarcastic, or stubborn. They don't like to read books, go to church, or have pets. Why do they glom onto soup? Because it's "an inexpensive meal solution" and it "goes with other foods."
Type #2: Dynamos. You guys like sports magazines and you're adventurous, creative, outgoing, athletic, optimistic, fun at parties, witty, spontaneous, detail-oriented, and down to earth. You're outdoorsy, love technology, and don't watch much television. You like soup because it's "quick and convenient" and "healthy."
Did you notice how the "traditionalists" are described in all negative terms? I noticed that too. I've got the study in front of me, and that's how it reads. So I'm guessing that most of us "Heavy Users" are going to be thinking of ourselves as "Dynamos" from here on out.
QUESTION #3: IS SOUP A FAVORITE COMFORT FOOD FOR YOU?
This is actually related to Dr. Wansink's Heavy User survey, and is based on a 1003-person random sample of Americans. Turns out these folks mostly eat comfort foods when they're happy and relaxed, not when they're bored, depressed, or lonely. And turns out that they put soup right at the top of the list. Well, ice cream is at the very top (didn't I tell you?), but soup, mashed potatoes, and pasta are close behind. The stats:
The upshot: if you said YES, join the geriatric guy club and indulge yourself whenever you want without guilt. If, like me, you thought of Häagen-Daz rum raisin and Reese's peanut butter cups, just come on over to my house and join me in guilty pleasures.
- 67% say soup is #1 for Comfort...and only 3% of these feel guilty about indulging themselves (as opposed to 45% guiltstricken over chocolate; 37% over ice cream; 24% over fried chicken, and 7% over meatloaf)
- Also, it's an age and gender thing: under 34 years old...and mostly women...go for sweets. Over 35 and hands-down men go for hot soup, baby, just like mama used to make.
- Now, in the realm of Feelings: 89% say soup makes them feel healthier when they're sick; 84% say it makes them feel good because it's good for them; 75% say it makes them feel more relaxed; and 54% say it reminds them of pleasant childhood memories.
QUESTION #4: WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE SOUP?
This is actually a trick question. Turns out that there are regional monkeywrenches in this soup personality business.
For example, Mr. Wasink and Sea Bum Park interviewed a thousand people, but they were all Americans. For their exhaustive data, they get the following results...for Americans:
Did you go for CHICKEN NOODLE? Hmmm, v-e-r-r-r-y interesting. Stubborn churchgoers, on the whole. Also loyal, relaxed, a homebody; someone who likes hobbies like quilting or photography. And did I mention daytime talk-shows? You love 'em.
TOMATO SOUP? "Affectionate" is your middle name. Pets, people--and yet, you also like to spend time alone and are an avid reader of books. Creative--inside and outside the kitchen. Adventurous too--you're always up for something new...and that includes wild and crazy foods.
How about VEGETABLE? A real homebody...gardener...reader of family magazines. You love dessert, but are nutrition conscious. You're mad about cooking, but not about travelling.
NEW ENGLAND CLAM CHOWDER? Sophisticated and intellectual! Cynical, introspective, thoughtful! Self indulgent when it comes to food. Known to be sarcastic. You rarely cook from scratch.
No surprises with CHILI-BEEF: manly, hearty, extremely competitive, a little unpredictable, a beer-drinking party boy. Except when you're home, that is--when you turn into a tv-loving couch potato.
MINESTRONE, no baloney. You love the outdoor life and fitness. Nutrition conscious and often dieting. A family lover. Not one for pets, though.
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BUT WHAT IF YOU'RE BRITISH?
According to an exhaustive study, commissioned by Baxter's, of a 1000-person random sample of people in the U.K., those who love...
...chicken broth...are reliable.
...country mushroom...are faithful.
...Thai chicken noodle...are independent.
...tomato soup...are adventurous.
A gender bender with the carrot and coriander soup, though: men are loving and broadminded; women are extroverted and bossy.
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AND IF YOU'RE CANADIAN?
30% of those surveyed prefer Country Chicken Noodle Soup and describe themselves as "traditionalists."
26% go for Beef and Garden Vegetable Soup--mostly men, mostly seniors, mostly Anglophones, but still on the "daring" side.
17% go for Tuscan Minestrone--mostly Francophones and mostly teenagers and twentysomethings who describe themselves as "unique."
17% prefer Creamy Broccoli and Cheese--and most of these are women who classify themselves as "adventurist."
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AND IF YOU'RE NEW ZEALANDER?
Sorry about that, Kiwis. You're just not very hard core about soup, lagging behind per capita soup consumption rates in most other developed nations. Do not pass go; do not collect $200.
QUESTION #5: HOW DO YOU LIKE TO EAT YOUR SOUP?
Here's what clinical psychologist Judy Wilen says about you:
Use a LARGE SPOON? You've got "purposeful traditionalist" written all over you. You know what you want and you use the simplest way to get it.
Use a SMALL SPOON? Hah, a "cautious connoisseur" if I ever saw one. You tend to do what's expected...avoid making a fuss...and like being a behind-the-scenes organizer.
Drink your soup straight from a MUG? That would make you a "carefree independent." You don't like to be told how to do things; you don't care about etiquette; you're self-reliant and on the go, go, go.
Ever just tossed away the spoon, PICKED UP THE BOWL AND HAD AT? You're what's called a "free spirited enthusiast." You live life to the fullest; march to the beat of a different drummer.
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PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER.
Okay, here's me: Messy, slapdash dynamo is a typical sweet-toothed babe in the comfort area...known to be sarcastic, self-indulgent, even cynical, while posing as an introspective sophisticate...but a "purposeful traditionalist" for all that, picking up that great big soup spoon at the end of the day and ladling in the soup.
And you? How do YOU line up in the slurp department?
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Mercy, so much calculating and compiling data to find out how you rank in the greater soup scheme of things! Tired? I should think. You definitely deserve a treat. Well, maybe not all of you. No, this month ONLY my fellow "sarcastic sophisticates" shall be rewarded. Here's a recipe, darlings, just for you--
NEW ENGLAND CLAM CHOWDER FOR 4
American author Joe Lincoln said about it: "A New England clam chowder, made as it should be, is a dish to preach about, to chant praises and sing hymns and burn incense before. To fight for. The Battle of Bunker Hill was fought for--or on--clam chowder; part of it at least, I am sure it was. It is as American as the Stars and Stripes, as patriotic as the national Anthem. it is 'Yankee Doodle in a kettle.'"
Fry the bacon in a large saucepan. When it's crisp, take out the bacon and leave the grease. Saute the onion and celery in it til they're translucent. Stir in the flour and cook for a minute, then pour in the fish stock and whisk til it's thickened. Dump in the potatoes and seafood seasoning, bring to a boil, cover, turn down the heat and simmer for 20 minutes, until the potatoes are tender. Stir in the milk, cream, and clam liquid, then take the pot off the fire til you're ready to serve. When it's time to eat, heat through, stir in the reserved clams at the last minute (you don't want them to toughen), and ladle into big bowls. Crumble the bacon on top and serve immediately.
- 2 slices of bacon
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 cup of celery and leaves, chopped
- 1/2 tablespoon of flour
- 2 cups of fish stock
- 2 medium potatoes, diced
- 1 teaspoon of seafood seasoning
- 1 cup of milk
- 1 cup of whipping cream
- 2 six-and-a-half-ounce cans of chopped clams
Resources: COMPAS Inc. survey (commissioned by Campbell's) on Canadian soup personalities, reported in the Canada Newswire, 10/8/97; Grocer's Review, 6/00; Moray Co. survey (commissioned by Baxter's) on the personality characteristics distinctive to people who favor a particular variety of soup; Jenni Muir, The Independent, 4/5/03; Judy Wilen Soup Personality Survey, reported in the November 1996 Food Processing; Brian Wasink and Sea Bum Park "Methods and Measures That Profile Heavy Users," Journal of Advertising Research, 7/1/2000; Journal of Database Marketing; and thanks to those who participated in my mini-survey, to test (and refine) the validity of my own questions: Meg, Art, J. Edgar, Frances, Grover, Barbara, Judith, and Jeanne.
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NEXT MONTH: Spooky Soup