Written by Joy Simmons
Joy is a Yumday Fall 2021 Food Education Fund intern. She's a Senior at Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis High School, specializing in Economics & Finance. On this National Comfort Food Day, Joy is here to help us dig into the history of "comfort food" and share her own stories about the foods that bring her comfort.
What Is Comfort Food?
Comfort food, according to Oxford Languages, is "food that provides consolation or a feeling of well-being, typically any with a high sugar or other carbohydrate content and associated with childhood or home cooking." For me, "comfort food" is a physical peace of mind; comfort food is magical and transforming, unlike any traditional food. Comfort food transforms you into a place in your mind where all your troubles demolish, which is something very needed especially in this day in age.
What Is the Origin of Comfort Food?
According to "A History of Comfort Food" by Beffa's Restaurant:
As early as 1966, the term comfort food was used to describe meals that were rich, sweet or savory, and produced a sense of nostalgic happiness in those who enjoyed it. But while the phrase bounced around news columns and dietary advice pages throughout the ‘60s, it was actress Liza Minnelli who may have made it a household word. During an interview, she described comfort food as simply anything you truly enjoyed or found comforting.
In other words, many people believe that comfort food comes from childhood / nostalgic memories of foods that make you happy and release stress. Not all foods can do this, and most regular foods just fill you up, however comfort foods can restore a person's happiness.
What Are Some Examples of Comfort Food?
The list can be pretty long! In that same article by Beffa's, it lists "chunky beef stews and chilis, chicken soup, baked potatoes, grilled cheese sandwiches, and ice cream" as some examples of classic comfort food. In fact:
For Americans in the 1960s and ‘70s, these foods were a reminder of warming afternoon meals in the comfort of their childhood homes and solace during tough days. Restaurants soon caught on, offering many of the foods sought by diners as a way to expand their menus with childhood favorites.
To me Comfort Foods are any food that makes you happy. One of my comfort foods (yes… one, because you can have several) is a cheeseburger with bacon and barbecue sauce. (Yes, I know it sounds delicious!)
When I get my mouth on that juicy burger with the hot dripping cheese and crispy bacon with the tangy barbecue sauce, anything and everything that was causing me stress disappears, like nothing ever happened, and all for that I have my comfort food to thank. :)
Interesting Facts About Comfort Foods?
In this article from Nutrition Solutions, there are interesting effects and benefits to eating comfort food:
- Comfort foods trigger dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that sends messages between the brain cells.
- Comfort foods give us social connection..."Food unites us."
- Comfort foods are associated with positive memories and nostalgia.
Another way to express this is that comfort foods actually help with a person'a mental state in such a delicious way.
What Are Your Favorite Comfort Foods?
We'd love to know what brings you nostalgia and happiness! Tell us about your favorite comfort foods in the comments.
And check out these fun graphics and stories about comfort foods:
From The Kitchn