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Let’s Talk Textures

If you’ve ever had to order a pizza with a mushroom hater you are probably all too familiar with the impact a food’s texture can have on a diner’s experience. Taste isn’t the only arbiter of savory satisfaction. Texture too plays an undeniable role. I happen to love every single tomato byproduct. Ketchup, tomato sauce, salsa, etc. But put a single slice of tomato on a cold plate and request me to eat it? I’d refuse to comply. The wet seeds, the slime, the mealiness – its an indigestible trifecta of textures. And everyone has their own texture dilemma. We heard from people on Twitter about their disdain for the stringiness of celery, the sponginess of tofu, and even the graininess of the south’s beloved grits.

Despite being a lightning rod for reactions, a meal’s texture is often mentioned on menus. Consequently, Food Genius has unparalleled access to insights on how the industry chooses to describe a dish’s texture. Below is a look at four different texture terms and related research. First up, everybody’s favorite, moist.

MOIST

The term “moist” appears on 3% of menus. As the word cloud above shows, it is most often associated with desserts, specifically cake but also appears next to chocolate chip cookies and scones. Interestingly, out of the four terms we looked at, “moist” had the highest associated price point at $12.35 

CREAMY

Next up, “creamy.” The term creamy maintains mostly positive connotations. Most people think of whipped cream, cream cheese, or another luscious treat.  Which must be what the restaurant industry is attempting to channel when they place the term next to bummer phrases like “low fat” and “reduced fat.” Think about how many times you might have seen creamy, low fat, ranch dressing listed on the menu of your local Applebees. Average associated price – $10.88. Appears on 31% of menus. 

CRUNCHY

As for crunchy, it is often in reference to vegetables, specifically pickles and cucumbers. Other discernible associations are with breakfast food and Mexican cuisine.  It tends to be a relatively expensive texture, averaging right around $10. 

CHEWY

Though it only appears on 1% of menus, my  favorite texture is undoubtedly “chewy.” Mostly because it is almost exclusively associated with three wonderful words: chocolate, cookie, and marshmallow.  It is also a relatively inexpensive texture with average pricing at just $7.78. Oh happy day. 

CRISPY

And finally, the most popular of textures we researched – crispy. Present on over half of the menus in our database, crispy is overwhelmingly a descriptor for chicken.  Beyond that, it relates to bacon and also seems to function as a filler descriptor for tacos. 

Food Genius wants to hear your opinions on textures. Where do you fall along the great mushroom debate? Are you on board with uni? How chewy is too chewy for calamari? Let us know on Twitter using #texturetalk.

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