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What is America's Most Hated Food?
A trusted polling firm surveyed more than 2,000 people to find the answer
Every living organism needs sustenance in order to survive, but the similarities end there.
For many humans, food is more than something we need to maintain life. It’s cultural, social, and entertaining. In other words, food nurtures the body and the soul.
From cooking recipes handed down from generation to generation to grabbing a hot dog at a ballgame to savoring a multi-course meal at a Michelin-starred restaurant, food has taken on multiple meanings for us all.
Each one of us has our different ideas about what’s delicious. While most of us can agree on some ice cream (especially in the summer), there’s a reason why ice cream shops offer several different flavors.
But what’s the most hated food in America?
Instacart recently commissioned the Harris Poll to survey 2,000 Americans to pinpoint what people think is the least-loved edible in the country. The survey was conducted from August 3-7, 2023, with the Harris Poll asking 2,032 adults 18 and older what their most hated foods were.
The most hated food title goes to the anchovy, with 50% of those polled saying they hated the fish. Of that number, 58% of anchovy haters were women and 43% were men.
With Halloween coming up, it might be prudent to stock up on any candy other than black licorice. The divisive sweet is loathed by 45% of people polled, putting it solidly in second place.
Coming in a close third for hated foods is the oyster. 41% of people polled dislike the mollusk, with people over 40 hating oysters more than people in younger age brackets.
Beets (33%), blue cheese (33%), and okra (33%) all tied for fourth place in the survey with capers (31%), Brussels sprouts (28%), fennel (26%), olives (23%), mushrooms (19%), cilantro (17%), coconut (16%), pickles (13%), and mayonnaise (12%) completing the list of hated foods.
People polled cited smell, strong flavors, texture, visual appearance, the type of flavor, and how it makes you feel after eating it as factors in their decisions.
Instacart’s trends expert, Laurentia Romaniuk defended the poll results — especially the top three most hated picks of anchovies, black licorice, and oysters. Says Romaniuk, “Anchovies possess a briny, fishy flavor profile, oysters give off a super slimy mouthfeel, and licorice shocks the tongue with an unmissable anise and fennel flavor. On top of that, they all present chewy textures that can prove challenging for certain people. The complex interplay of these unique flavors and textures is likely why they’re at the top of the list, and it’s also the reason we’re not seeing foods like white bread show up.”
Speaking of white bread, let’s not jump to conclusions that the people polled would prefer an American cheese on white bread sandwich to a seafood tower. 37% of people polled say they are eager to try new foods that have a polarizing or controversial reputation. In addition, 69% of those surveyed say they’ve encountered a food that they initially disliked, but eventually grew to enjoy.
What’s your least favorite food? Did the Instacart survey mention your secretly loathed food? Let us know in the comments. And, pass the oysters — but keep the black licorice away, please.