When my two sisters and I were growing up in the 1950s and 1960s, it was a treat when mom and dad would take us to a drive-in restaurant.
But we were on pins and needles when my middle sister would order, so much so, that we all began to harmonize with her as she ordered a burger.
“A hamburger, please, just plain. No ketchup, no mustard, no mayonnaise, no lettuce, no onion, no tomato, no pickle, just a plain patty in a bun.”
Then for entertainment we would all wait to see what, regardless of the instructions, had invariable been added to her burger before breaking into laughter. All but my sister, that is, although she gets a chuckle out of it today when we rib her.
Other than that, she wasn’t a picky eater and our parents applied only one overarching rule, even to their own preferences: eat what was cooked for you and eat it all.
But it turns out, according to a Harris poll taken this week, that Americans are less divided about whether picky eaters are “born” or “made,” than I would have thought.
Collectively, 71% believe picky eaters are “made” that way, not “born” that way as 29% believe. Of course, picky eaters themselves are more likely to cite nature (41%.)
Those who are not picky eaters themselves point to parenting, as do most parents with children in the house. Telling, maybe, is that households with at least one picky adult are more likely to have a child who is picky.
I was surprised that only 26% of Americans self-identify as being a picky eater and only 28% don’t admit to knowing anyone who is a picky eater.
I became a picky eater as an adult, dancing my way around sugar and simple carbs which quickly turn to sugar, in favor of lots of vegetables.
A preference for small, “briny” olives as garnish for martinis, back before I turned to red wine only, was a source of great embarrassment to my daughter in her 20s.
I have gotten pickier with age, as have 15% of people my age. Usually, it dwindles as you get older, but I must be an outlier.
Americans are tolerant of picky eaters until they are seven and then gradually less so until only 35% think so for adults.
When you’re younger or eating with a group, it apparently pays to keep it to yourself. Picky eaters are less likely to get invited over for dinner by friends and single picky eaters have trouble getting a date.