Look at these young, attractive stock image models pretend to eat
Photo: monkeybusinessimages (iStock)

The newest way for brands to sneak in press mentions is through commissioning surveys. We media sites love us a tasty study, with a quantifiable percentage of Americans doing something weird (such as this dubious study claiming half of Americans use a swimming pool to bathe themselves, sponsored by a chlorine company).

One such study arrived in my inbox this morning, via a hospitality tech platform called Fourth, releasing results of a survey about dining out habit. Some of the findings weren’t too newsworthy (Gordon Ramsay is the favorite celebrity chefs of respondents 18-54; Emeril Lagasse for 55 and older; Anthony Bourdain for people living on the West Coast), some were borderline embarrassing for us living in Flyover Country (the Midwest cared least about dietary options on menus). But perhaps the most interesting data point was that Americans who made between $50,001 and $60,000 annually dined out the most, averaging 3.98 times a week.

Maybe this shouldn’t come as a surprise. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics data, among full-time wage earners, $50-60K is the median salary range for Americans in the 35-44, 45-54, and 55-64 age groups, which is essentially a huge chunk of the country.

Let’s look at it from a different angle: In The Takeout’s hometown of Chicago, the $50-60K range is the median salary for people with less than four years of work experience, according to the wage software company Payscale. This falls in line with workers in their mid-20s, and, unburdened with parental responsibilities and home ownership, it makes sense that city-dwelling twentysomethings are more likely to spend expendable cash on dining out.

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The point I’m getting at, I think, is that the salary segment often made up of 20- and 30- and 40-somethings is also the salary segment that dines out the most. Maybe this supposedly surprising data about dining out habits shouldn’t be so surprising after all. You can click here to read through the results.