Beware menu items that are in bold and dishes with flowery, elaborate descriptions, warn food scientists who say they’ve decoded the ploys and tactics used by restaurants to seduce diners.
Because according to Brian Wansink of Cornell University, odds are high that a dish that’s been given the special treatment -- bold, highlighted or in a text box -- is the least healthy menu item.
Likewise, the study also found that long-winded, flowery menu descriptions are effective marketing tools, as consumers in their study were easily seduced by the language and were even inclined to pay more for the dish.
For instance, when researchers changed the name of seafood filet to the more hyped up “Succulent Italian Seafood Filet,” and jazzed up red beans and rice to “Cajun Red Beans and Rice,” sales spiked 28 per cent.
The same dishes were also rated as tastier despite the fact that recipes were identical.
Diners were also willing to fork over an average of 12 per cent more for a menu item with a descriptive name versus its more prosaic version.
The findings were based on selections of 300 diners who perused through 217 menus and published in the International Journal of Hospitality Management.
Previous research has also shown that restaurants will deliberately place the most expensive restaurant item at the top of the menu so that other dishes are seen as more reasonably priced.
And if you’ve noticed the omission of dollar signs on menus, that too is a deliberate tactic to detract from the concept of money and spending.