Comfort foods

Chicken ParmigianaAccording to a recent article in Marketing Daily, comfort foods choices differ depending on age.

While baby boomers say they find classic comfort foods such as braised meats, casseroles and ice cream soothing, Gen X-ers cite fast food hamburgers and burritos near the top of their lists. While this may seem discouraging, the good news is that Gen-Y-ers like burgers but also mention sushi and fruit as comfort foods.

For me, almost all food is comforting (seriously, I get quite uncomfortable at the first signs of hunger), but one of my favourite meal choices to massage away the tensions of a long day is veal Parmigiana with spaghetti and tomato sauce; homemade is ideal but I often settle quite happily for the take away version from Abruzzo Pizza. When I need some mental health food and I’m not actually hungry, coffee-flavoured Hagen Daz ice cream is my treat of choice.

I’m not quite a baby boomer by age (that age group cut off is 1964 and I was born in 1966) but as my comfort food choices attest, I’m more like the Boomers than the Gen X-ers. However, the fact that my choices are bought foods that I note by brand is distinctly like a Gen X-er. Confusing.

What foods do you find soothing? And, if you don’t mind sharing, what age group category best defines you?

19 Responses to Comfort foods

  1. Sally says:

    Hi Dana
    My comfort food is seasonal. In a hot summer, it is a lot of salads, less meat and lots of fresh fruit. In the winter I crave the fresh fruit, but settle for braised ribs and lots of hearty soups. Another favourite is “Scentilental Journey” from our “Looney Spoons” friends – yum!
    But being a Boomer, fat, lots of meat and salt are very low on my horizon!

  2. Sandy Avvari says:

    I have a number of comfort foods…I must note that I’m a lacto-ovo vegetarian so you won’t see any meat or seafood on the list!

    Chili tofu from Willy’s Hakka in Richmond Hill
    California Sandwiches eggplant sandwich
    Grilled cheese sandwich
    Chocolate pudding
    Chocolate cake

    I’m sure there are others but these are the ones that come to mind first…

    I’m 30 now and being the developing foodie that I am, I am pickier now about my comfort foods. Where in the past, a donut from Tim Horton’s would have been on my comfort food list, I am now moving “more upscale” with even my comfort food choices, which my husband finds interesting LOL

    @savvari on Twitter

  3. GTF800 says:

    Interesting blog, Dana, but it’s missing an important part of the equation: Generation Jones (born 1954-1965, between the Boomers and Generation X). Jonesers had/have their own unique comfort food; if Marketing daily is behind the curve, Dana, why don’t you be the one on top of trends and blog about this ignored aspect.

    Google Generation Jones, and you’ll see it’s gotten a ton of media attention, and many top commentators from many top publications and networks (Washington Post, Time magazine, NBC, Newsweek, ABC, etc.) now specifically use this term. In fact, the Associated Press’ annual Trend Report forecast the Rise of Generation Jones as the #1 trend of 2009. Here’s a page with a good overview of recent media interest in GenJones:

    It is important to distinguish between the post-WWII demographic boom in births vs. the cultural generations born during that era. Generations are a function of the common formative experiences of its members, not the fertility rates of its parents. Many experts now believe it breaks down more or less this way:

    DEMOGRAPHIC boom in babies: 1946-1964
    Baby Boom GENERATION: 1942-1953
    Generation Jones: 1954-1965
    Generation X: 1966-1978

  4. Amy says:

    I’d be considered a Gen Y I guess (1982). Foods that soothe me is just about anything sea food (yes, sushi included), clear soups, root beer floats, and coffee, and avocados.
    During the summer I tend to veer towards capreses and an Asian cucumber salad.

  5. Well, you can put me in the X camp, but I never felt particularly tied to the stereotypes of the Generation. I love Singles, but that wasn’t my life!

    Comfort food for me? Hubby’s hamburgers, pyrohy, spaghetti and meatballs, ice cream, cookies, and brownies. And scotch.

    And then there is the food that transports you. Not the warm hug of comfort food, but the mental vacation that comes with a fresh from the field strawberry or the key lime pie or the spicy sushi that literally takes you back to vacation.

  6. Diva says:

    This is an interesting topic, Dana. I only recently found out that I count as a “baby boomer” since I was born in 1964. I’ve never really considered myself one, but comfort food wise, I’m a boomer all the way. Any kind of Italian food or pasta dish, particularly ziti and meatballs, ranks high on my list. New Haven pizza, mac and cheese, soups and stews and definitely the braised dishes.

    Chocolate is a major comfort food for me, and I’ll second Cheryl A. on the scotch. Absolutely, scotch.

  7. danamccauley says:

    I don’t drink scotch often but I’m a terrible booze hound so can I join Diva and Cheryl A in a few comforting cocktails?

  8. 24carrots says:


    I am generation Y. I guess I am more in line with the sushi and fruit…my comfort food is non-fat greek yogurt with honey cinnamon. Swirl it up and treat it like ice-cream. Yummy.

  9. Hélène says:

    I fit in the baby boomer category. For me comfort food is shepperds pie, chicken pot pie, tourtière, Turkey, mashed potatoes. Sushis and burgers don’t quite fit in this category for me.

  10. Kathleen says:

    Boomer all the way here. Born in Texas in 1949, I grew up with beef stew, barbequed brisket, chicken fried steak with white gravy, cheese and onion enchiladas, lasagna, chicken pot pie, Frito chili pies, etc., etc. And that’s the stuff I still crave when I feel the need for comfort food. In contrast, my Yankee husband (same age) prefers a plain steak, pork chop, or chicken breast with potatoes, rice, or corn, and heaven forbid that I cook something green!

  11. As an early boomer, I don’t fit the mold. Almost all food makes me comfortable, and it’s rare that I crave one thing over another.

  12. Natashya says:

    I am gen X, I think my comfort foods are classics – roast chicken, French bread, pasta, red wine, and ice cream.
    I have a salt tooth, rather than a sweet tooth. Ice cream is the exception. I always have room for ice cream!

  13. Sharon Haslam says:

    I thought comfort food meant the dishes Mom made that comforted us when we were sick, broke up with our boyfriend, had a fight with our best friend, etc. For me that’s good ol’ fashioned chicken noodle soup (so thick you could stand a spoon in it), mashed potatoes and gravy, stews, gnocchi-from scratch, sheppards pie (kind of has all my comforts in one dish!). I love all the gen-x foods mentioned above, but they just taste great–they don’t make me feel as if my mom made it especially for me. Lemon meringue pie probably makes me the happiest when I need comforting.

  14. Sarah says:

    I’m definitely part of the Gen Y, both in time (1983) and in taste. Like Amy, I love seafood and avocados. My dad got me young with avocado shakes, and there are certainly some Filipino dishes that I still crave when I’m homesick. Actually, one thing that always cheers me up is a basketful of colorful veggies and fruit. Oh and cheese. A good cheese and crusty bread always makes me feel better.

  15. Rituparna says:

    I am deffinately in the category of gen X. For me comfort food at any point of time can be anything which has a generous amount of chocolate in it. Not very good … But arn’t we discussion comfort food.
    Further I do love some of the bengali food my Maa makes. Those can be comfort food anytime and they are also healthy, but I dn’t get that pleasure often.
    And did I mention Chocolate Mousse ….

  16. Rachel says:

    I’m GenX, I believe. Comfort food for me is definitely ice cream, avocado, and things involving cheese. Maybe it’s not so much comfort food as comfort fat!

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