A group of Linguists and Computer Scientists have worked together to discover a strong positive correlation between the price of food and the length of the food’s description on the menu.
The lead researcher, Dan Jurafasky, presented the research at the LISTEN Conference in San Fransisco, highlighting the group’s key finding that with each increase of a letter in the length of the menu description, the price of the food increases by an average of 18 cents, or 10p.
The research was carried out by surveying the prices of 650,000 dishes across 6,500 menus in seven cities across America, using statistical analysis to determine which words were more frequently referenced. Special attention was given to counting words which were ‘appealing adjectives’, such as zesty, rich, or crispy, which allows restaurant owners to portray the food as appealing before a consumer has even tasted it. Students interested in Anthropology should explore another of Jurafsky’s research papers that discusses how we can read into the language of restaurant reviews to understand more of the people that write them.
As well as the linguistic analysis, this research will also be appealing to History applicants, as Dan Jurafsky traces the stories we tell about the origins of food and how this ties to historical revisionism.