Saturday, August 20, 2005

I get press releases, Vol. 21: But what if you like rigatoni?

Somewhere in America there's a child who's just started say, 8th grade. He or she is already dreading this year's math homework. "But Noah/Neveah/Other-Trendy-Name," his or her parents reply, "there are lots of fun things you can do with math when you get older. For example, you could work for a PR firm, and figure out how Americans eat their pasta."

"That sounds really boring," the child replies.

"Come on Hunter/Trigger/Chasten/Other-Word-That-Shouldn't-Be-A-Name, put away the Xbox, and go do your algebra."

* * * * *

Somewhere in America, this scene actually played out (minus the Xbox) a good 15 years ago, because the 19 Minutes staff has already received an exciting press release detailing how Americans eat their pasta - just in time for Labor Day:

New survey reveals whether Americans twirl or cut their pasta
Yes, Harris Interactive, no doubt using their most experienced pollsters, has unearthed valuable data about Americans preferences when it comes to eating Italian food.

ORLANDO, Fla. – August 18, 2005 – There’s a whole lot of twirling going on – with pasta that is. According to a recent survey commissioned by Olive Garden and conducted by Harris Interactive®, 77 percent of U.S. adult pasta eaters, twirl, rather than cut, long noodle pasta, and 58 percent of Americans use their plate, rather than a spoon, to twirl it.
The survey also found that more than 50 percent of respondents are eating pasta at least once a week and most frequently as a family meal (41 percent). From among a selection of 20 pastas, spaghetti is America’s favorite and tomato, or marinara, the preferred sauce. First and second runners up included lasagna and fettuccine for pasta preference and Alfredo and Bolognese, came in second and third respectively for favorite sauce.
And, with all this twirling going on, almost two-thirds of Americans (63 percent) say they end up with a little sauce on themselves or their clothing, while enjoying their pasta.
As usual with these releases, there are some gaps. For starters, there are no photos attached, so the 19 Minutes staff is having a hard time envisioning how the plates are being used to twirl the aforementioned pasta, rather than the spoons. Perhaps people are putting one end of the spaghetti on their spoons and then spinning the plate like a lazy susan. Perhaps these people also move books across their faces, because moving their eyes is too much trouble.

Secondly, we don't learn about the other occasions (besides the "family meal") when Americans are eating pasta, but we should probably assume they're times like "at the ice rink", "while they're directing airplanes across the tarmac", and "on the Space Shuttle".

There are also footnotes, which we're not sure how to include in this posting, but they do allow us to learn that the two-thirds of Americans who spill sauce was actually a composite of people who responded "sometimes", "often", and "always", but that the data was also incomplete, since some of the respondents spilled bolognese on their survey forms, rendering them unreadable.

The survey was (surprise) conducted on behalf of Olive Garden restaurants, a chain which earned the distinction of "Best Italian Restaurant" in several reader polls in the local newspaper here in 19 Minutesland. This led us to concerns not so much about Olive Garden (which, truth be told, makes a pretty good salad), but about the people who take part in these reader polls. (If Cedar Rapids, Iowa is "the kind of place where people dress up to go to Red Lobster" (as someone desribed to us before we moved to Iowa) then Flagstaff, Arizona is "the kind of place where people consider Olive Garden to be a little slice of Tuscany".)

America, in general, would be "the kind of place where people respond to surveys about pasta eating."

1 comment:

Carol Davidson said...

I guess once again I'm in the minority. I twirl my pasta on my clothing.