Winter Holiday Survey

We crunched the numbers of UnitedInFood’s 1st Christmas Holiday Season Annual Survey. Initially, the idea of doing a survey during the Christmas holiday season did not seem like the best idea we’ve ever come up with. Adding something to people’s to-do list is not exactly a crowd pleaser. Especially during this time of year. To-do lists are already booked solid. There’s not an extra minute to spare with the recipe planning, cookie-making, gift wrapping, card writing, trips to the mall, religious services to attend and parties to schedule. We considered doing the survey during another time of the year. July perhaps? However, the over-the-top-ness of the Christmas holiday season causes most folks to head for the hills when asked to think about Christmas during the summer months. We found that Christmas holiday season is undoubtedly a treasured time of the year but not one relished revisiting until it actually rolls around again.

The purpose of the survey was to find out what people are cooking, eating, enjoying, looking forward to, remembering and celebrating this year with food. Survey respondents included a wide range of ages, people who live in different parts of the country (U.S.), of different heritages (including friends from China and Denmark), and food lifestyles (included vegans and vegetarians). Without further ado, drumroll please … the results are:

(1) most common message: the majority of the people surveyed look forward to having the foods they have each year and celebrating with loved ones. This survey showed us that Christmas is cherished traditions and recipes passed down in families. Some of our respondents like to shake things up. One said she’d like to have Chinese food for Christmas dinner and we hope she is bold and has that someday! Another makes something different each year for Christmas dinner, one year a goose, next year Cornish game hens, and year after that tamales.

(2) #1 food people would choose for Christmas dinner if it was up to them: roast turkey, baked ham (with or without pineapple), potatoes (mashed or baked – with all the trimmings, this is no time to skimp on the calories), sweet potatoes, stuffing (made with white bread, not cornbread), salad, cranberry sauce (one respondent likes with pecans), pumpkin pie, rolls and gravy. The ham can be baked, smoked and/or glazed (one respondent likes in a loaf) and most respondents would not be unpleased if vegetables (such as Brussels sprouts, cauliflower casserole, turnips or string bean casserole) were served too. So, basically what we have here is Thanksgiving 2.0. After that roast beef, pork or lamb were tops. More than a few of our respondents enjoy Beef Wellington and Yorkshire pudding while others enjoy seafood dishes such as stuffed shrimp and crab cakes (yes, we are pondering how we graciously wrangle invites there). Other Christmas dinner preferences included tofu turkey, salad, pasta, black olives and Jello dishes. 

(3) #1 beverage during the Christmas holiday season: eggnog (with or without bourbon or rum) was the most favorite holiday beverage by almost everyone in the survey (one respondent chose it for 4 of her 6 survey answers!). Many make their own eggnog from long-held family recipes. One respondent said he’d never had eggnog before. Promptly upon hearing that we poured him a glass and he was an instant convert. The last we saw him he was on his way to the grocery store (we think to buy more eggnog!). Next top holiday beverages were wine (red more than white), sparkling or mulled cider, hot chocolate and holiday coffee drinks. Whipped cream was mentioned often. One lucky respondent enjoys cosmopolitans made by her loving father. One respondent enjoys “Michelada (Mexican alcoholic beverage made with beer, lime juice, hot sauce and served in glass with salt on the rim), whilst another makes fruity sangria, and another has (in his words) “the politically-incorrect Pepsi”. Then there’s the famous in certain circles “house-special”, circa 1980, from Norman, Oklahoma (75% cranberry juice and 25% ginger ale).

(4) #1 food tradition of the Christmas holiday season: homemade holiday cookies. Almost every respondent said this even if they are not bakers (no one is not a cookie eater). One participant makes three family recipes, one loves chocolate chip cookies, another’s favorite are thin butter cookies with sugar on top, and another never not makes pecan tassies. For another it’s Scottish shortbread. The second top food tradition was Christmas morning breakfast. Our survey showed this is a loved Christmas meal and often celebrated with 1,000,000 calories cinnamon buns or waffles. One respondent wanted to officially state for the record, to separate the eggs and beat the egg whites before folding them into the waffle batter. Another respondent does an egg-bake which is fast to prepare and can be eaten in between present opening.

(5) Does the diet start in January?: #1 answer was “no”. (“Yes” was close though.) Notable responses included: “no, I’m never on a diet (lol)”; “no – I stay on a diet except when I don’t.”; “what’s a diet?”; “No. Exercise attempted.”; “Yes, I start a diet January 1st, and again on January 3rd, and again January …. well you get the idea.”; and “Yes, I am on a diet every day all year (and cheat during the holiday).”

(6) Foods we were excited to learn about: Wet tamales (use a different thinner wrapper than regular tamales). Ris a la mande (traditional Danish holiday rice pudding with whipped cream, served with a warm cherry sauce and whomever finds the whole almond wins a prize). The 7 Fishes Christmas Eve dinner by our Italian respondents. Chinese Feast Hot Pot (with broth that is either spicy or savory) served with meats and vegetables served by our friend from China. Romanian Christmas which includes sauerkraut soup with sausage and cabbage rolls. The 12-course (yep, that’s right, a 2 with 1 in front of it!) Polish dinner celebrated by one of our dear friends and her husband’s family. Yummy!!

Pixie – December 2018

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