Why Do Sandwiches Taste Better When Someone Else Makes Them?

Daniel Kahneman tells us:

When you make your own sandwich, you anticipate its taste as you’re working on it. And when you think of a particular food for a while, you become less hungry for it later. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University, for example, found that imagining eating M&Ms makes you eat fewer of them. It’s a kind of specific satiation, just as most people find room for dessert when they couldn’t have another bite of their steak. The sandwich that another person prepares is not “preconsumed” in the same way.


"Why Do Sandwiches Taste Better When Someone Else Makes Them?"

They don't.

Indeed. My sandwiches are DA BOMB.

Agreed. I wonder if there is a difference between people who love their labor and people who fear labor so much that making a sandwich is a stressful task.

On closer inspection the headline is wrong. Eating less after making food seems correct. I thought it was cognitive dissonance and that I actually ate the same amount. Time for some peer review!

Interesting... This seems to partly contradict the findings of Mochon and Ariely (2009), who find that people rate things they made themselves more highly (what they call the 'IKEA effect'). http://hbr.org/web/2009/hbr-list/ikea-effect-when-labor-leads-to-love

This seems to fit what I've noticed of a chef uncle of mine as well as my own mother when she'd cook dinner for the family. The people preparing the meal usually seem to eat less of it. Perhaps because they are working with the food they become detached from the urge to eat it. Or maybe they're just tired after preparing the meal.

Or they snitch while they eat, like I do.

Wives who cook are skinnier than wives who don't?

Because I am not very good at making sandwiches?

So that's why food I cook tastes better the next day. I thought it was because by the next day, you've forgotten that you didn't mean to add so much salt or you meant to turn the chicken over half a minute earlier, etc.

This is not about how tasty they are, it'd about how much of them you eat. The next time I go for a few drinks, I will imagine drinking a few beers first and see if this leads me to drink fewer in the pub.

My wife and I have long noticed this, but never thought to ask the question why. Thank you for the post, and the article.

I think one part is that when cooking for myself I consider health and use less mayo and salt. When cooking for others I care only that they like it and those condiments are used to full capacity.

Maybe Kahneman just isn't very good at making sandwiches, or perhaps he uses this argument to get someone else to make his sandwiches for him.

I've not found this the case. When I make my own sandwich, it has the "right" amount of mustard and is toasted the "right" way. And I know the person who made the sandwich washed his hands first.

There is actually a cycle to this. While many of us prefer our own food preparation at times, other times we crave anyone's cooking that is not our own. Plus, if we eat someone else's food for too long (too long depends on how good it is), we start getting more picky about the way that food is prepared. So there is a balance in terms of enjoyment for both our own production and the production of others.

So all this obesity prevention talk about preparing your own food instead of buying it... maybe it's not just that it's healthier, but that you eat less of it? New diet book for the fastest entrepreneur...

That's why I spent a semester eating other people's sandwiches - the top 101 in NYC!

That's why I spent a semester eating other people's sandwiches - the top 101 in NYC! Check it out at http://semesterofsandwich.posterous.com

The issue here is not whether you make sandwiches that taste better to you than the local deli. The issue is whether two identical sandwiches, one made by you and one made by someone else, has same marginal utility in the first bite.

The author contends that the MU of the first bite declines during a pre-consumption preparation phase. Since "taste" has a strong smell component, that could be true. You don't smell the sandwich made in another room by someone else.

It's hard to hold all else constant. Part of the utility of eating at a deli is the smell of deli itself. Part of it is having someone else serve you, even though your travel might have used equal time. Part of the utility of eating out is getting out of the house and into a social environment.

Clearly, the person who chooses to eat the deli sandwich reveals his preference, as does the.person who makes it himself.

If one of my favorite movies comes on television, I will often watch it (with commercial interruptions) even though I own the DVD. Maybe I enjoy the structured breaks and time schedule. Maybe I subconsciously like commercials. Maybe I like being served the movie.

I enjoy haircuts, and I'd rather get a full haircut than have a magical instant haircut.

Point is, our behavior reveals our preferences far better than what we claim, and utility is affected by far more than consumption of the good itself.

It's the smell factor.

Smell. Your nose filters out smells that you are used to. Hence why rooms stop smelling after a while to you. Once the sandwich smells starts to fade, the sandwich starts to have less aroma, and hence blander. I don't buy into the preconsumption as a major factor just yet.

This happens to me often too. This is perhaps because that one does not have to work himself if you're somewhere else. In addition I think i am habituated to the typical taste of my own sandwiches and so it is boring. Greetings

So what happens if two people prepare each others sandwich, but they each make the same thing?

I cooked on restaurants for many years, it seemed to me that fat people got fetter when they worked in kitchens and non-fat people got thinner. I always thought that it was the smells that made you feel satiated. Fat people would nibble all day.

Funny. When I started nibbling all day, I got thinner.

A possible mechanism is the secretion of insulin caused by contemplation of the food. Just thinking about food can cause insulin levels to rise. In certain situations, insulin acts as an appetite suppressant. Thus, when you make food (and think about it), your pancreas primes your body by secreting insulin, which suppresses your appetite before you even eat.

The real question is why making food causes you to think more about the food than does ordering it from a restaurant. I don't see why this would be the case.

I now realize that the opposite relationship is suggested. Perhaps ordering food causes more direct contemplation than does making it. Who knows?

What trivia Kahneman is spending his time on these days (or so it seems).

Sandwiches are serious business. Several serious businesses, in fact.

Isn't it widely understood that free food is the most delicious?

I've never noticed a difference in the taste in sandwiches based on who made them. My wife perceives a difference. My father-in-law thanks the coffee tastes better when I make it. I can't tell the difference between 'his' coffee and 'mine'. But, I think it just takes the stress of him worrying about how good his coffee tastes.

The real question is.... do sandwiches taste better when a woman makes it?

My wife would tell you the sandwiches are better when I make them because I always put more mayo, cheese and meat on the sandwich than she would ever dare to :)

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