America’s top comfort foods of 2020 tell the story of a very long year

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Stack of iced doughnuts on a white plate
Photo: Teri A. Virbickis (Getty Images)

2020 has been a year when we can all sure as hell can use all the comfort we can get. We know which types of food were hoarded the most when the pandemic began, and we know that people are generally “treating themselves” a bit more in a year when other small joys like socializing, barhopping, and, you know, events of any kind are effectively out the window. Now, though, thanks to a study conducted by OnePoll in conjunction with Farm Rich, we have data on who exactly is eating what in order to cope with the added stress of this year.

A poll of 2,000 Americans showed that the majority of us are, of course, reaching for comfort foods at least a little bit more in 2020 than we did in 2019—in some cases, a lot more. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Here are the top 15 foods that respondents reported consuming more of this year than they would likely eat in, shall we say, more precedented times:

  • Pizza (55%)
  • Hamburgers (48%)
  • Ice cream (46%)
  • French fries (45%)
  • Mac & cheese (39%)
  • Potato Chips (39%)
  • Cookies (38%)
  • Chocolate (37%)
  • Cereal (34%)
  • Fried Chicken (34%)
  • Spaghetti & Meatballs (32%)
  • Mashed Potatoes (32%)
  • Bread (31%)
  • Hot Dogs (31%)
  • Pancakes (30%)

I’m not sure why the presence of pancakes on this list delights me so much, but it does. Something else that’s interesting, and perhaps affirming, about this data is that respondents were asked whether they plan to keep eating comfort food at this newly elevated level once we have made it through the pandemic—and 69% of them confirmed that they do plan to keep eating this way, thank you very much. And why not? Three in four respondents confirmed that comfort food has made a positive impact in their lives in 2020, and I strongly suspect that at least some of the remaining 25% of folks who said that it hasn’t might just be letting some societally induced guilt cloud their pancake enjoyment.