Why is tomato juice so popular in airplanes?

by on February 12, 2010 at 2:16 pm in Food and Drink | Permalink

Is it?  With Germans, at least. There's now been some research supported by Lufthansa:

Bei dem im Flugzeug herrschenden niedrigen Luftdruck steigt die sogenannte Geruchs- und Geschmacksschwelle – Kräuter, Gewürze, Salz und Zucker müssen höher dosiert werden, um wahrgenommen zu werden. Man rieche die Speisen und Getränke "als hätte man einen Schnupfen", sagte Burdack-Freitag der Zeitung. Salz werde 20 bis 30 Prozent, Zucker 15 bis 20 Prozent weniger intensiv geschmeckt.

During a flight, everything tastes quite a bit weaker, as if you had a cold.  You might think die deutschen would turn to Sichuan Chili Chicken, but no…Tomatensaft!

I thank Herr Rothschild for the pointer.

1 anon February 12, 2010 at 2:28 pm

Because it’s an excellent source of both vitamin C and vodka?

2 Fran Smith February 12, 2010 at 2:46 pm

In the U.S., it’s also popular as a “filling” beverage (lots more solids than other juices), since virtually no snacks are provided.

3 J. Daniel Wright February 12, 2010 at 3:11 pm

I drink tomato juice on flights because I would never pay for the filth in a store but I get bold and venture to try it when its [direct] cost to me is zero.

4 rose February 12, 2010 at 4:00 pm

Thanks mk. I think Tyler wanted to point out that he can read German.

5 anglo-burgundian February 12, 2010 at 5:55 pm

I don’t know, but Major Peters is my preferred tomato delivery system

6 Edward Gaffney February 12, 2010 at 6:06 pm

“Der Spiegel is now my standard reference on aviation-based juice sales.”

7 Stan February 12, 2010 at 6:19 pm

Yeah, thanks mk. Some of us wasted our time studying Spanish and Klingon.

8 Jerry February 12, 2010 at 7:03 pm

A friend who worked on a trading floor would drink either alcohol or tomato juice after work to relieve stress (sometimes both, together.) He insisted tomato juice relieved the symptoms of stress.

9 E. Barandiaran February 12, 2010 at 7:39 pm

Tyler, urgent message. You believe that tomato juice is popular with Germans. Read this
and please tell us what policy toward Greece is popular with Germans. I promise you a comment on your post with a detailed analysis of the many mistakes made by NYU professors–contrary to what Arnold Kling thinks, it’s terrible to read so much nonsense from academic economists. Anyway, I’m 100% with Ford but ….

10 Pitt February 12, 2010 at 9:58 pm

Some have said that tomato juice is good for its anti-clotting abilities—perhaps due to the lycopene? Maybe the Germans have picked up on this on long flights. I have heard they use natural-based tranquilizers when the Autobahn grinds to a stop.

11 dearieme February 12, 2010 at 11:41 pm

My dear wife speaks German and yet I am the one who likes tomato juice. Odd, eh?

12 David Stern February 13, 2010 at 12:01 am

I order it because it is more thirst quenching, more filling, and lower calories than other fruit juices.

13 Karoly February 13, 2010 at 3:51 am

I don’t presume to know why more people choose it (if indeed more of them do). As for me, I like tomato juice, but not very much. If I buy a liter, it may go bad on me, so I hardly ever have it at home. In airplanes, I go for variety. One glass is just enough. The other reason is that, in my experience, other fruit juices served on board tend not to be of the best quality. If I want some good juice, tomato is the safest bet.

14 Andrew February 13, 2010 at 4:24 am

Does “Der Spiegel” sound as cool in German as it does to me?

Thus I don’t know anything about Germans. I’d tend to believe some second-order explanation. Flying is kind of a special event so something out of the ordinary seems to add to the experience.

15 Ferruccio February 13, 2010 at 5:39 pm

I’m not German (Italian), but I always go for tomato juice in flights (sometimes in a bloody mary, admittedly). I don’t like sweet drinks, so what alternatives do I have? Water (they’ll typically give me a glass of that _plus_ something else, though), milk (but I dislike skim milk and rarely is full milk on offer) — maybe coffee or tea, but beyond issues of quality those are typically hot drinks and I’d rather have cold ones. Tomato juice just seems to be my best option.

16 Business blog February 17, 2010 at 5:38 pm

I don’t quite understand the German part of this article, but I must admit I am one of those that does have a tomatoe juice on a flight, not sure why and I never have this any other time! hmmm – there is definately something in this.

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