Ruffles For Men? The Weird Reason Advertisers Market Spicy Food To Guys
1:20 pm, June 12th | by Amy Tennery
Yes. Women can only appreciate ridges on very specific occasions it would seem. Never mind. Moving on.
But, hey, newsflash: Women like all of those things! I mean, some women do. And some don’t. That’s because no entire gender favors one set of tastes. I’m blowing your mind over here, right?
But don’t tell Ruffles that, because they have a new line of chips that are designed specifically for men. They are, as a statement from the company explained, “an unapologetic bro-centric snack.” Unapologetically bro-centric. Love it.
The chips not only claim to be just for guys — they also promise to make women who eat them seem cooler, at least according to this commercial. Because, as we all know, when women “act like guys” that makes them infinitely more fascinating and worthy of being around:
But before we completely lose it on Ruffles for crafting what is surely one of the silliest ad campaigns in recent memory, let’s unpack this a little: Why do guys tend to get spicy things (like Ruffles’ jalapeno-laced, barbecued, extra ridgy chips) advertised to them — and women get the sugary sweet stuff pitched our way? What’s behind the hot wings for guys, cake for gals archetype?
It turns out, in fact, that this pattern is (slightly) less B.S. than you’d actually think. It’s an advertising strategy that’s at least partially rooted in truth. And it is, in fact, based on women’s and men’s taste buds.
Turns out, taken as a whole, men are predisposed to tolerate hotter foods than women are. This is according to a 2008 study, which tested nearly 9,000 Danish children’s tolerance for different tastes (sweet, hot, sour, etc.). And, yep, the report found that boys could tolerate hotter foods than the girls could. This would, perhaps, explain why men enjoy extra-spicy cuisine, stronger liquors, ultra-salty bites and lots of other flavors you’d associate with traditional dude food. Ad execs vindicated? Taste buds reign supreme? Well, not entirely. Here’s where the advertisers’ reprieve falls off the rails — and bias comes into play.
The report also showed that the boys in the study liked super sweet flavors. And super sour flavors. They just tended to like really strong flavors, in general, in ways that the girls didn’t.
In fact, the notion that all women enjoy the sugar sweet taste of a cupcake more than men isn’t rooted in any truth at all. Genetically, guys are more likely to have a sweet tooth. And, moving back to the study, this is because women have more sensitive taste buds — we’re predisposed to avoid over-the-top flavors of any variety, the study showed. (The Danish study also attributed this to our superior ability to recognize flavors, which in turn could mean we’re better chefs and… well, let’s not get ahead of ourselves.)
A slightly less reliable study (I say less reliable due to its comparatively tiny sample size) from Clemson University in 1988 showed that men were not only more likely to seek out spicy foods. So the Danish study doesn’t stand alone.
Of course no amount of science can explain away a certain Jane Dough editor’s ferocious love of scotch and thai food. Nor can it explain “Man Candles.” Those, like a certain carbonated beverage, remain the mystery: