Can your refrigerator improve your dating life? There's even an app for it
Using groceries to map the route to romance? Now that's what you'd call playing it cool.
The first time John Stonehill was invited back to his girlfriend’s house, he headed straight for the refrigerator.
It was stainless steel with a water and ice dispenser. It told him that his girlfriend, Rachel, was financially comfortable.
The contents were revealing, too: A bottle of wine, a bottle of Champagne, hummus, olives, fresh fruits and vegetables.
“I came away knowing a great deal about her,” Stonehill said. “Refrigerators are filled with clues about the people who own them.”
“In Rachel’s case, it told me she liked to entertain and could probably create a quick and shareable snack for friends who unexpectedly popped by.”
They’ve been married for nine years. “Refrigerators are great cheat sheets because you can learn a lot about a person,” Stonehill said.
That idea gave rise to what he calls “refrigerdating".
He’s discussed it on morning talk shows, including The Doctors, and helped Samsung, the electronics giant, come up with a Refrigerdating app to prove we are what we eat.
The app works with Samsung’s Family Hub refrigerator, which sells for around US$3,000 (S$4,060) and has a screen in the door that can show you the contents of your fridge.
The idea is that you can look at your phone while you’re at the store to find out if you’re out of milk.
But the dating app lets you see the inside of someone else’s fridge.
Instead of seeing photos of potential mates and judging them on superficial factors like their looks, you’re treated to glimpses of their inner selves: Would you swipe right on someone’s leftover Thai takeout or a bowl of fresh berries?
The site cautions users not to style their fridges before taking the pictures, because, “cheating and relationships don’t go together well”.
It suggests not choosing only fridges that look just like yours. And it recommends sending a personal message that reveals something about yourself and flatters the refrigerator’s owner.
Perhaps, for example, you could compliment a condiment and say that it reminds you of your semester abroad.
“We’re all dating detectives,” Stonehill said. “Nothing says more about who we are than what we eat and drink.”
Gleaning information from what we eat may be an unusual way to meet a mate, but does it reveal who we really are?
Perhaps it can provide some clues. A study in the journal Appetite found, for example, that risk takers tend to like spicy food.
And researchers from North Dakota State University reported that people with a sweet tooth tend to have sweet personalities – they were more likely to volunteer to help clean up their city after a major flood.
Another study from the journal Appetite showed how bitter taste preferences might be associated with anti-social personality traits.
Those with the strongest preferences for bitter foods, the authors wrote, showed “the most robust relation to everyday sadism and psychopathy”.
According to Dr Alberto Ascherio, a professor of epidemiology and nutrition at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, there’s a link between eating certain foods and depression.
He was the senior author of a 12-year-long study published in the journal Brain, Behaviour And Immunity that found that certain foods known to cause inflammation are tied to depression in women.
The study tracked 43,685 women, ages 50 to 77, and found that those who rarely consumed wine, coffee, olive oil and vegetables and who regularly drank sodas and ate red meat or refined grains were 29 per cent to 41 per cent more likely to be depressed than those who followed a more healthful diet.
“These results converge with parallel findings on the relation between diet and physical health,” Ascherio said.
“From a public health perspective, it is reassuring that what is good for the body is also good for the mind.”
So if what we eat can affect our moods and may be linked to personality traits, is it an accurate predictor of romantic compatibility?
Peggy Policastro, a faculty member in the department of nutritional sciences at the New Jersey Institute for Food, Nutrition and Health at Rutgers University does not subscribe to the belief that you are what you eat.
“We might have preferences for some foods that we grew up eating,” she said.
“And although some food choices may tell us something about your cultural background, not everyone purchasing Goya beans is Latino."
Policastro does agree with Stonehill that a shopping cart filled with fresh fruits and vegetables suggests that you care about your health.
“And if you see a shopping cart filled with different desserts, you might assume that someone is planning a party,” she said.
“It, however, doesn’t reveal much about that person’s personality.”
Stonehill begs to differ. He recalled one date’s refrigerator that was so overcrowded with food it reminded him of being on the subway at rush hour.
He felt that pursuing that relationship would have been too chaotic for him.
Of course, some couples can be compatible even if their refrigerators seem mismatched.
My husband, for example, describes himself as an “opportunarian” for his “I’ll eat anything” attitude. I don’t eat meat and can be quite fussy about food.
When we were dating, his meat-filled refrigerator didn’t bother me and he liked the fruit and vegetables that filled mine.
We never forced our preferences on each other. But we do have at least one food issue in common: We share a deep dislike for meatloaf.
By Michele Hollow © The New York Times
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.