Survey: Pizza, burgers take the cake as ‘safest’ first date meal ideas

NEW YORK — Looking to impress that special someone with a feast they’ll remember forever? Half of foodie-loving Americans believe a first date should always involve a meal — but won’t risk eating messy foods until the fourth date.

A study of 3,000 U.S. adults finds 40 percent look for someone who is passionate about cuisine as a potential partner. Meanwhile, 38 percent admit they’re put off by fussy eaters. More than four in 10 (43%) are so into food they say being a good cook is a turn-on when it comes to finding a suitor.

The research also reveals the most popular ways of involving food on a date include dining out (43%), having takeout (31%), and going to food festivals (31%). When it comes to the “safest” date night meals, Americans go with pizza (24%), burgers (21%), and salad (21%).

First date “meal” breakers

On the other hand, the dishes people are most likely to avoid on a first date all seem to come from the ocean. Those include oysters (19%), mussels (18%), and sushi (17%). Desserts such as chocolate brownies (16%) and apple pies (15%) are generally “risk-free” in the eyes of daters.

Commissioned by French bakery experts St Pierre and conducted by OnePoll, researchers also find it typically takes four dates before respondents are comfortable enough to eat a risky meal in front of a prospective partner.

The study also reveals 41 percent have judged a date by the food they ordered when dining out and 45 percent form their opinions based on how a suitor eats. For those who chew loudly and eat messily, respondents say don’t expect a second date. Just as many Americans (41%) confess they would judge a date if they asked for a “doggy bag” to take home any leftovers.

Meals also matter depending on the situation. For a marriage proposal, the top meal of choice is steak (27%). Ironically, this is also the most popular dish to have when breaking up with someone (23%).

“The research proves just how important food is to our love life — whether it’s starting out in a new relationship or other events later in life,” says St Pierre Bakery founder, Paul Baker, in a statement. “Food gives people something to talk about on a date, to try different dishes and discuss their culinary preferences — which can clearly be the ‘make or break’ factor when it comes to a potential partner. Breakfast and brunch as an occasion to catch up with friends, dates and family has grown in popularity over the years and some would even prefer this over a more formal evening meal.”

Dating meal milestones

The survey also finds it takes six weeks of dating someone before it becomes “acceptable” to steal food off their plate. Thirteen percent say they would be annoyed if someone tried this on a first meeting. However, 17 percent admit they would be impressed by such a bold move. It also typically takes around six weeks before people are honest with someone about their cooking skills.

“The stats also showed that virtual food-based dates have been popular during lockdown,” Baker adds. “More than half have kept dating fun by cooking together via video calls and more than half have eaten together this way too. Great food is a joy to be shared. It’s about making memories, which is why it’s so important in key life events.”