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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Yogurt Named Food of Decade

Good old Harry Balzer. He's certainly consistent. How many people can you say that about in a positive sense in this day and age.

Balzer was the subject of one of the first posts I ever did on this blog, Yogurt Changed the Way We Eat. I wrote:

Harry Balzer knows more about the way you eat than anyone in America. His title is nothing special, vice president at the NPD Group. His job is. He studies Americans and food. Every day. ...

Every day, someone from the NPD Group is calling 3500 Americans, asking them whether they're gone to a restaurant, and if so, what they ate. The number one food ordered by women? French fries. Burgers are number two, pizza, number three. Salad comes in seventh. Men eat burgers, French fries, pizza in that order.

And NPD hands out notebooks to 3000 families at a time so that the can record everything they eat and drink for 14 days.

Then NPD combines the info and sells it for big bucks in their unique study, Eating Patterns in America, now in its 20th year. ...

And yogurt? Well, in Balzer's 28 years in the business, he's only named a "food of the day" that's changed America's eating patterns twice. The first was pizza, and now the second is yogurt.

Almost four years later, Balzer is still on the food patrol. And he's still touting yogurt. In an interview with NPR, Balzer named yogurt the food of the decade.
MICHELLE NORRIS: So was there one specific thing that defined the American diet over the last decade?

Dr. BALZER: Well, if there is one that defines this decade it would have to be yogurt.

NORRIS: Yogurt?

Dr. BALZER: Yogurt would be the category or the food that has increased in our dietary habits more than any other food during the past 10 years.

NORRIS: Color me surprised.

Dr. BALZER: And it probably, if you think about your own behavior, I'll bet you start your day off a lot with yogurt or have it during lunchtime, or maybe have it as a dessert or a side dish or as a snack, more than you did probably 10 years ago.

NORRIS: That's true.

Dr. BALZER: It's one of those things that kind of sneaks up on you, but yet I think defines what Americans are really looking for from its food supply.

NORRIS: Well, now, is it because yogurt is something that's healthy or because it's convenient or because it now comes in all kinds of forms?

Dr. BALZER: Yes.

NORRIS: It's not just in tubs. It's in tubes.

(Soundbite of laughter)

NORRIS: It's frozen. It's...

Dr. BALZER: Say yes to all of those. It's very convenient. It's very individualized. You don't get a bunch of yogurt like you get a pizza pie and celebrate with everybody else. This is just for you. It's your own flavor. It has a health halo certainly surrounding it. It really does define what I think America wants from its food supply.

And if you really want to know what the top food will be in 2020, Balzer can tell you. And you'll be more surprised than by the yogurt.
DR. BALZER: I will tell you the number one food that we will eat in the year 2020 will be a ham sandwich. And I know that because I've been doing this for 30 years and I was hard pressed in 1980 to be asked what we'll be eating in 1990. When I discovered that the ham sandwich was the number one thing we ate in 1980, and I made a prediction that we'd be eating it in 1990. And guess what we ate in 1990 - a ham sandwich. What do you think it was in 2000 - a ham sandwich. 2010? A ham sandwich.

So do I have to go out on a limb to tell you that the number one food we'll be eating in this country in the year 2020 will be a ham sandwich? What I don't know is what will be the bread. There will be something new about the ingredients or the condiments that go on this. But when I ask you, what did you have? You'll say, oh, I had a ham sandwich.

Let's hope it's on dairy-free bread.

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