Earlier this week, Hinge, one of many dating apps that caters to lonely hearts in their mid-20s, released the findings of its survey regarding the best ways a first date can guarantee a second date. Respondents were concentrated in major metropolitan areas across the country—New York, San Francisco, Washington D.C., Los Angeles, Chicago, and Boston.
There are some vaguely interesting insights hidden in the survey. For example, 79% of respondents in New York prefer to go to movies or shows on their first dates. The most popular drink to get on a first date is the Bloody Mary at 50%, trailed by an old fashioned at 35%.
But I was utterly confounded, borderline awestruck, at respondents’ admission that the food most likely to guarantee a second date was fried chicken, commanding 24% of the vote. (Not far behind was, simply, “vegan” at 23%. Poor pancakes, sitting soppily at 9%, behind pizza’s 15% and sushi’s 19%.)
Well, I’m not quite sure what to say. I’m usually self-conscious and dainty with my food on a first date if I opt for dinner (which I rarely do), ordering a small plate of salad alongside a drink. I'm careful not to expose my messy, occasionally feral eating habits—which tend to emerge when, say, I’m facing a bucket of fried chicken.
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Fried chicken when you're in a relationship? Sure; no problem. I'd even consider ordering it on a third date, if the vibe's right. But the only first date I can remember where I ordered fried chicken also happened to be my last with that person.
What's the verdict: Is fried chicken an acceptable date food? And what is the best first date food, anyway? Make your voice heard in the comments section.
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Mayukh Sen is a James Beard Award-winning food and culture writer in New York. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, the New Yorker, Bon Appetit, and elsewhere. He won a 2018 James Beard Award in Journalism for his profile of Princess Pamela published on Food52.