Democrats and Republicans can't even agree about food
February 27, 2013 10:37 AM   Subscribe

Public Policy Polling (previously) dares to address the issues tearing this country apart- such as whether Olive Garden constitutes 'a quality source of authentic ethnic food'. What are the food issues polarizing America?

More fun from PPP: "Congress somewhere below cockroaches, traffic jams, and Nickelback in Americans' esteem"
posted by showbiz_liz (63 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
What a misleading headline. The article present no evidence that food is contributing to polarizing americans.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 10:40 AM on February 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


Man, the choice between Congress and Nickelback is like putting the Dallas Cowboys and New York Yankees in Thunderdome and having to root for one of them to win.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:40 AM on February 27, 2013 [5 favorites]


Also, I don't want to overdramatize anything, but pancakes vs. French toast vs. waffles is basically Sophie's choice.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:44 AM on February 27, 2013 [8 favorites]


Pick two?
posted by cjorgensen at 10:51 AM on February 27, 2013


The Olive Garden question in detail:
41% of Democrats said it was a "quality source of ethnic food", versus 43% of Republicans. 44% of Democrats said no, versus 41% of Republicans. So a 2-3% difference. On a poll with a 4.4% margin of error.

You know, PPP, if the poll doesn't show a staggering cultural divide on every single question, you don't have to pretend it does. (Particularly since three of the other four crosstabs -- age, region and race/ethnicity -- show a stronger difference than the political split.)

Also, the question on whether Ronald McDonald or Burger King should be President has only answers for one or the other, or "not sure", but no category for "fuck you for wasting my time and cheapening the nation's political and cultural discourse".
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 10:52 AM on February 27, 2013 [16 favorites]


And while Republicans narrowly believe that Olive Garden constitutes 'a quality source of authentic ethnic food' (43/41), Democrats (41/44) think it does not. - See more at: http://www.publicpolicypolling.com/main/2013/02/food-issues-polarizing-america.html#.dpuf

So basically the pull quote every website in the world has been using is margin of error separation between the two.

Even more worrisome is the 15% of Democrats that presumably answered "I don't know."
posted by Keith Talent at 10:52 AM on February 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


In January I visited my parents, who are overwintering in the Naples, Florida area, and when we went out for dinner before going to a movie we tried going to an Olive Garden because a) it was close* to the theatre and b) their friends and neighbours in the trailer park had been going on about how great the Olive Garden is. The outlandish praise heaped upon a chain restaurant and the fact that there was an hour-long wait to get a table on a Wednesday night kind of creeped me out.

* close in this case means "across two miles of parking lot"
posted by The Card Cheat at 10:53 AM on February 27, 2013


- Subway (43%) beats out Panera (22%) and Quizno’s (6%) for favorite sandwich chain. Women (30%) have a much stronger preference for Panera than men (12%)

This is the most surprising news to me; I have never met a single person who prefers Subway to basically any other option.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 10:53 AM on February 27, 2013 [5 favorites]


I'm picturing these guys on an Italian vacation being forcefully ejected from a restaurant while shouting, "You call this Hospitaliano?!"
posted by uncleozzy at 10:55 AM on February 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


In some parts of the country, Olive Garden is all there is for ethnic/Italian food, so I understand the thinking as sad as it is. (And that's why I don't live in those parts of the country).
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 10:55 AM on February 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


What a misleading headline. The article present no evidence that food is contributing to polarizing americans.

The food probably contains water molecules. QED.
posted by DU at 10:57 AM on February 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


This is the most surprising news to me; I have never met a single person who prefers Subway to basically any other option.

Subway has spinach, which is better than shredded iceberg lettuce in every possible way (or at least in every possible way that doesn't include "being made of bacon"). That gets them my vote right there.

But Panera doesn't really compete with either of them so I think that's a weird comparison to begin with; I bet there's a significant economic divide between people who habitually go to Subway and people who habitually go to Panera for weekday lunches.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:58 AM on February 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is the most surprising news to me; I have never met a single person who prefers Subway to basically any other option.

I liked Subway until

1. I asked for a chocolate chip cookie, got a raisin cookie, prodded it with my fingers to determine whether it was raisin, gave it to my friend to prod for confirmation, returned it with my bare hands, and saw them put it back in the display case.

2. That still didn't teach me my lesson though- I went back once more (to a different location) and got horrendous food poisoning. From a veggie sub.

NEVER AGAIN.
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:02 AM on February 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


I suppose you could consider Olive Garden as ethnic food if you don't actually specify an ethnicity or is you include "American" as an ethnicity.
posted by GuyZero at 11:04 AM on February 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


As I am a vegetarian person who never eats at chain or fast food restaurants, dislikes all sodas except carbonated water, vastly prefers breakfast to all other meals, and would always opt for waffles, I guess this all is a hint to me to form a new political party?
posted by bearwife at 11:08 AM on February 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


When The Olive Garden came to my hometown, it made the front page of the local newspaper. Not even kidding. Color photo and everything.
posted by hellojed at 11:11 AM on February 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


What a misleading headline. The article present no evidence that food is contributing to polarizing americans.

Another act of deliberate misdirection by Big Carpet.
posted by griphus at 11:11 AM on February 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also, "do you know what gluten is" is a terrible question. I'd be absolutely shocked if even a third of the "yes" respondents actually understand what gluten is.
posted by uncleozzy at 11:13 AM on February 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


Re: the Subway vs. Panera vs. Quiznos -- are these just direct questions, or are they for people who have access to each of those? If it's the former, then that explains part of your numbers. Subways go to small towns before the other two do. People often select the thing they *like*, even if they haven't had experience with the other things.
posted by bizzyb at 11:14 AM on February 27, 2013


Also, the question on whether Ronald McDonald or Burger King should be President has only answers for one or the other

Look, it's a two-mascot system. Sure you could go for a third-party candidate like Wendy or The Colonel or something, but if you do that it's the same as voting for McDonald.
posted by burnmp3s at 11:15 AM on February 27, 2013 [9 favorites]


This just in: Young people more adventurous; Democrats more likely to be young!
posted by klangklangston at 11:21 AM on February 27, 2013


I saw this linked on Twitter as: "43% of Republicans believe Olive Garden constitutes 'a quality source of authentic ethnic food.'"

And then when I clicked through to the article, I saw that basically the same number of Democrats think the same thing. It struck me as really snobby to phrase it that way. And a great example of non-news.
posted by mokin at 11:24 AM on February 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


The thing is, I don't begrudge anyone an Olive Garden if there's really no better places. It's fine, I guess, although probably pretty unhealthy to visit too often. But it broke my heart to walk past one this weekend in the heart of Philadelphia of all places. With delicious Italian food everywhere!

(We opted for a Greek/Cypriot brunch and OMG, it was frikkin amazing...)
posted by JoanArkham at 11:26 AM on February 27, 2013


Also, "do you know what gluten is" is a terrible question.

They should have to answer a subsequent test of their knowledge of gluten. E.g.,

Gluten is a composite of which two compounds:
A) Gladolin and Grouten
B) Goldolin and Gluedolin
C) Gladiolas and Goldilochs
D) Gliadin and Glutenin
posted by kiltedtaco at 11:26 AM on February 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


uncleozzy: "Also, "do you know what gluten is" is a terrible question. I'd be absolutely shocked if even a third of the "yes" respondents actually understand what gluten is."

If your understanding is limited to "it's a thing that's found in wheat flour," congratulations, you're still ahead of half of the cooks and waitstaff who my Celiac-suffering mother has to deal with.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:27 AM on February 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


I found the "willing to eat sushi" question strange because it sort of presumes that you've never had sushi. I've had sushi, but didn't like it. Saying I'm "not willing" to eat it would be wrong, because I've proven that by trying it, but I'm never going to order it because I don't like the taste.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 11:28 AM on February 27, 2013


I've had sushi, but didn't like it.

CLEARLY YOU'VE NEVER HAD GOOD SUSHI HERE LET ME TAKE YOU TO THIS PLACE WHERE
posted by griphus at 11:28 AM on February 27, 2013 [14 favorites]


I know exactly what gluten is. It is a thing. Some people cannot eat this thing.

Don't tell me how to build a clock when I ask you what time it is.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 11:34 AM on February 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


Gluten is a composite of which two compounds:
A) Gladolin and Grouten
B) Goldolin and Gluedolin
C) Gladiolas and Goldilochs
D) Gliadin and Glutenin


God, how I hated The Silmarillion.
posted by GuyZero at 11:35 AM on February 27, 2013 [37 favorites]


7% of the people they surveyed were vegans? Man, not even my earthy liberal arts college had that many vegans.
posted by Tsuga at 11:38 AM on February 27, 2013


8% claimed they were gluten.
posted by kiltedtaco at 11:40 AM on February 27, 2013 [5 favorites]


It is a thing. Some people cannot eat this thing. Don't tell me how to build a clock when I ask you what time it is.

Except that that's the equivalent of "big hand three, little hand five." Where does this thing come from? How might one avoid it? Why might one need to avoid it?

It's just a bad question. Being familiar with something and knowing why that thing is relevant are different.
posted by uncleozzy at 11:40 AM on February 27, 2013


1) Wheat.

2) Don't eat anything made of wheat. No, not even that. Or that. Not that either, it's got bread in it for crying out loud.

3) Because they're allergic.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:42 AM on February 27, 2013


Perhaps Olive Garden is the sweet-spot of authenticity from a Republican point of view; i.e., as authentic as one can be without crossing the line into being un-American (either by being conspicuously foreign or by being suspiciously rootlessly cosmopolitan and disrespectful of fixed beliefs and time-honoured values)?
posted by acb at 11:43 AM on February 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Gluten is in more than just wheat, though.
posted by klangklangston at 11:44 AM on February 27, 2013


Wheat, barley, rye, and maybe oats, depending on who you ask.
posted by Rangeboy at 11:46 AM on February 27, 2013


So you're telling me there's gluten in unlimited breadsticks? Unlimited gluten?
posted by uncleozzy at 11:49 AM on February 27, 2013 [6 favorites]


I was going to chime in, but then I remembered that I've never been to an Olive Garden, so I guess that disqualifies me.
posted by freakazoid at 11:51 AM on February 27, 2013


oh man, we're really gonna piss off the gluten lobby now.
posted by IvoShandor at 11:54 AM on February 27, 2013


  1. Almost all Subway restaurants are franchises. The explosion of the chain over the past few years is largely due to the fact that their franchise fees are among the lowest in the industry. Expenses are low, fees are low, and oversight is also evidently low. It's not at all surprising why the chain is a juggernaut in markets where it has a captive audience. Often times, Subway will be the only franchise that you can find in many rural towns.
  2. PPP are run by a bunch of outspoken nerds with a dry sense of humor. Don't read too much into their headlines. They can get away with this, because their polls are damn good. Their penchant for outspokenness (and occasional editorializing) is best seen on their Twitter feed. They've been pretty quiet today, but there are a few gems:
    We had a staff dinner at Olive Garden last week, all we're doing is reporting the results

    Only 21% of Americans consider themselves to be obese, that lack of self awareness may help explain why so many more actually are

    Republicans consider Olive Garden to be a 'quality source of authentic ethnic food,' Democrats do not

    On our food poll we found that Republicans have a negative opinion of vegans...not sure what vegans ever did to them...

    ‏@MargaretKate086: According to ABC Family, The Princess Diaries is rated TV14. ‏@ppppolls: @MargaretKate086 It ought to be rated PG Terrible

    Y'all can laugh at us, but I just love polling random states like Kansas

    More than 70% of Kansas voters have no opinion about 'What's the Matter with Kansas' Those who do have one liked it...

    @anniepatton97 It's tough being 11 and having your homework hang over your Minecraft playing

posted by schmod at 11:54 AM on February 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


Do you really want to live under the thumb of Big Gluten for the rest of your life, IvoShandor?
posted by Rangeboy at 11:58 AM on February 27, 2013


Even more worrisome is the 15% of Democrats that presumably answered "I don't know."

Yeah, it would be nice to think that there were more Democrats so far from setting foot in an Olive Garden as to not even have an opinion about it.
posted by straight at 12:33 PM on February 27, 2013


CLEARLY YOU'VE NEVER HAD GOOD SUSHI HERE LET ME TAKE YOU TO THIS PLACE WHERE

THIS BUT UNIRONICALLY
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:34 PM on February 27, 2013


On our food poll we found that Republicans have a negative opinion of vegans...not sure what vegans ever did to them...

Everyone knows Republicans aren't big fans of proselytizing.
posted by madajb at 12:47 PM on February 27, 2013


> Expenses are low, fees are low, and oversight is also evidently low.

I haven't worked at Subway since the late '90s, but when I did I was told that individual franchise owners had a lot more leeway in terms of how to run their store than many other franchisees did.
posted by The Card Cheat at 12:47 PM on February 27, 2013


So basically Olive Garden is the Walmart of casual dining -- economies of scale and rationalized logistics and production cutting low the local competition?

I remember when the McDonald's sprouted in that new shopping plaza off Giuntoli in Arcata, CA. Oh! How we swooned over the Big Macs and the fries now so close to home instead of way down south.
posted by notyou at 12:52 PM on February 27, 2013


So basically Olive Garden is the Walmart of casual dining -- economies of scale and rationalized logistics and production cutting low the local competition?

There's a certain amount of this that's true of all casual dining chains, but it's also that in a lot of places there just isn't Italian food. They aren't cutting low any competition from local authentic Italian places, because there aren't any.

I grew up in a small town/city in the South (20,000 people); we had pizza, but beyond that there was no Italian food. If any had sprung up, it probably would have been worse than Olive Garden. There aren't Italian people, so there isn't Italian food. If you want that, you go to a place like Olive Garden (although that was two towns over).
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 1:04 PM on February 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


When my family gets together, the older generation of parents and aunts and uncles expect a visit to Olive Garden. That is a treat to them - their impression of dining out at a nice place. It is a thing we all do at every event.

Last time we got together, none of them had access to smartphones or internet. So they quickly learned that there are no Olive Gardens in all of California. At all. Ever.

Probably the only time my cousins all worked together for a common purpose.
posted by subject_verb_remainder at 1:08 PM on February 27, 2013 [6 favorites]


So basically Olive Garden is the Walmart of casual dining -- economies of scale and rationalized logistics and production cutting low the local competition?

Cheesecake Factory.
posted by gyc at 1:10 PM on February 27, 2013


Last time we got together, none of them had access to smartphones or internet. So they quickly learned that there are no Olive Gardens in all of California. At all. Ever.

You magnificent bastard, I salute you!
posted by entropicamericana at 1:12 PM on February 27, 2013


griphus: "CLEARLY YOU'VE NEVER HAD GOOD SUSHI HERE LET ME TAKE YOU TO THIS PLACE WHERE"

griphus why did you drive us to subway
posted by boo_radley at 1:13 PM on February 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


SEVEN UNDER SIX GET OUT OF THE VEHICLE
posted by griphus at 1:19 PM on February 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


Almost all Subway restaurants are franchises. The explosion of the chain over the past few years is largely due to the fact that their franchise fees are among the lowest in the industry. Expenses are low, fees are low, and oversight is also evidently low. It's not at all surprising why the chain is a juggernaut in markets where it has a captive audience. Often times, Subway will be the only franchise that you can find in many rural towns.

I'm not sure where this idea that Subway are especially lenient popped up from. A family friend had a franchise in Australia and reading through the guidelines read like some middle manager with a stick up their ass thought up the most anal things they could to worry about in the name of customer service.
posted by Talez at 1:25 PM on February 27, 2013


I've never gotten the extreme Olive Garden hate. Sure, they are mediocre Italian food, but most non-chain Italian restaurants I've been to in the US have equally mediocre Italian food -- my mother, who isn't even Italian, makes better pasta and sauces. I would never pick Olive Garden as my personal choice to dine, where I live there's a million more interesting places to eat, but the times I've been I've had adequate pasta and a decent salad for a relatively reasonable price.

Now Cheesecake Factory, which has equally mediocre food at gourmet prices, that I can understand people bitching at.
posted by tavella at 1:48 PM on February 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


I think we can all agree on one thing. According to my personal values and beliefs, I'm the better person.
posted by TwelveTwo at 1:51 PM on February 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


Talez: "I'm not sure where this idea that Subway are especially lenient popped up from."

From the raisin cookie prodding and bad sandwich comment, was my assumption.
posted by boo_radley at 1:58 PM on February 27, 2013


Didn't Romney say he didn't care where the 47% eat anyways? Or if they even ate at all...
posted by vonstadler at 2:02 PM on February 27, 2013


I'm one of those people who has never eaten in an Olive Garden. I've never refused to eat at one either. It's just that I haven't lived in the suburbs in years, and around Boston there are scads of other Italian restaurants at all levels of price and quality. (I am, however, in the middle of a Dairy Queen and Chik-Fil-A food desert.)

But it's starting to feel like not having an opinion on Olive Garden is a positive act of failing to engage in American Society, on the level of not voting or not watching the Super Bowl.
posted by benito.strauss at 2:57 PM on February 27, 2013


The big thing about being a Subway franchisee is that Subway corporate doesn't give a fuck about your competition and will cheerfully sell a franchise to anybody who can pay. You remember that Achewood where Pat's upset because two other characters have opened competing Subway franchises? That's fact-based.
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:33 PM on February 27, 2013


I found the "willing to eat sushi" question strange because it sort of presumes that you've never had sushi. I've had sushi, but didn't like it. Saying I'm "not willing" to eat it would be wrong, because I've proven that by trying it, but I'm never going to order it because I don't like the taste.

But in a sense you were willing to eat it because you did so had you not at this point and then had the opportunity, having never had it, you probably would. You were willing to eat it and you did, you're no longer going to eat it though. I guess it's how one interprets it.

I don't like the vinegar in the rice of Sushi but I do like Sashimi, though it gives me "no one better be around me for the next few hours" gas.
posted by juiceCake at 9:18 PM on February 27, 2013


According to the crosstabs, you are most likely to think Olive Garden is authentic if you are over 65 and live in the south.
posted by pemdasi at 9:11 AM on February 28, 2013


One of my friends who is in the country on an H1B visa recently started getting tons of (paper) spam from Subway, with the aim of getting him to buy a Subway franchise. Supposedly, they target immigrants on work visas (and specifically those from countries where it's hard to get a green card legitimately, due to the quota system) and have configured the "minimum viable" Subway restaurant so that it almost exactly meets the minimum requirements for an EB-5 Immigrant Investor visa, for which I gather there is no annual quota.

Anyway, I don't think that has anything to do with the quality of their food either way, but it does explain the stereotype of Subway shops being run almost exclusively by immigrants.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:41 AM on February 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


I live in California. There is an Olive Garden within a mile of my house. It's in a mall. I kind of feel like I should walk there just because who walks to an Olive Garden in a mall?

To tell the truth, the food isn't bad. And I'm from Jersey.
posted by madcaptenor at 6:26 PM on February 28, 2013


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