Cognitive Daily

I’m at the North Carolina Science Blogging Conference this weekend, and I wasn’t planning on doing a Casual Friday this week. But Virginia Hughes gave me an idea for a really quick one. What state boasts the most-frequent buffet-style restaurant diners?

Click here to respond

This survey has a mere two questions, and you have until Thursday, January 24, to respond.


  1. #1 Chad Orzel
    January 18, 2008

    I’m afraid that with only the two questions, this is more likely to provide information about the class breakdown of ScienceBlogs readers than anything else. I hit the local Chinese buffet somewhat regularly, because I have a weird fondness for really dubious American Chinese food, but it’s definitely a more downscale crowd than the restaurants with table service that I go to. And I did buffets in general more frequently when I was a grad student, and didn’t have much money.

    I think you’d really want to have an economic status sort of question– income range, or some such– to go with the “how often do you eat at buffets?”

  2. #2 Hao Ye
    January 18, 2008

    I’m curious if one might expect a spike for residents of Nevada, given the sheer number of “quality” buffet places available, both on and off of the strip.

    I also think Chad is right about economic status playing a major role, though I’m ironically an exception. (I am a poor graduate student, but with a refined palate, so I generally can’t stand buffets. Damn you food network!)

  3. #3 Robbie Clark
    January 18, 2008

    As a gentleman born and raised in Savannah, GA, but who has lived and traveled throughout the rest of the country, I expect that one might find that Southerners in general tend more toward buffets than people from the rest of the country. Buffets really seem to be more common than table-served meals at residential social events, even among the old-money families; it’s regarded as being more inducive of socialization than table-service. In fact, older Southern architecture frequently includes a sitting or living room that lends itself to buffet service and little other practical use.

  4. #4 Rachael Clemens
    January 19, 2008

    In my experience I’ve noticed that people in rural areas are more likely to head to the local buffet (typically Chinese or of the Golden Corral variety). Two comments:

    *the idea of all you can eat for one price is frequently seen as a “good deal” even though you can probably get a more elegant and higher quality dinner for about the same price

    *unfortunately buffets are usually an enormous array of deep fried, mayonnaise-laden, previously frozen, sugar coated, high fat, nutritionally vacuumed crap. And unfortunately people in rural areas often have less access to high quality nutritionally rich foods both in the local grocery and restaurants.

    So these buffet-style restaurants help contribute to problems of obesity, high cholesterol, diabetes, etc.

  5. #5 Pelio
    January 19, 2008

    I think people with teenage boys like these places. I know my brother and I were both chronically famished in our teen years and coerced my parents to go to these types of places.
    I guess I’m thinking more of the fried chicken and mashed potato type places than chinese or indian buffets, which, depending on the restaurant can actually be quite good.

    Of course, I think socio-economic status plays a role because of the lots-of-food-for-one-low-price factor. So I guess I’m saying poor, fat people with children like buffets. Gee, it sounds kind of harsh like that.

  6. #6 Celeste
    January 20, 2008

    As a college student, I noticed that men prefer buffets. The guys always wanted to go to CiCi’s Pizza or the Chinese buffet, and the girls were not that interested because the price wasn’t as good a deal if you can only eat 3 slices of pizza.

    My husband and his friends (all military aircraft mechanics) love Mongolian grills where they pay per-person like a buffet. So while I and there wives eat one bowl each, they each eat two bowls crammed as full as possible.

    Since the interest is in geography: I grew up in North Carolina, and currently live in Kentucky, so maybe you will notice a southern preference.

  7. #7 Rod
    January 20, 2008

    It also shows how important it is to be very careful formulating the questions.

    In this one the last question is:
    ‘What U.S. State are you from?’

    I suspect that you really meant:
    ‘In which U.S. State do you currently live?’


  8. #8 student
    January 21, 2008

    this is so funny that i stumbled across this blog post tonight because i watched a hysterically disgusting documentary on las vegas buffets earlier… can’t get to anything about it right now other than proof that it aired –> ( )
    it definitely touched upon some inference of specified demographic enjoyment of buffets, tho not in a state-by-state viewpoint, obviously. it was pretty biased. tho it interviewed many different types of people, their m.o. was all pretty much the same.
    it’s kinda sad on a lot of different levels.
    it’s very “american”– wanting to know exactly what you’re getting/ be able to see it before-hand, and to be able to have as much of it as you want. and being able to kind of “get away with something” whether it’s loading up your plate or covertly taking some home with you. maybe it’s my dissatisfaction with wasteful society, but the idea of (from the standpoint of the consumer) loading one’s plate with as much food as possible, without the intention of eating it all and (from the standpoint of the provider) knowingly creating so much waste, so much food that won’t be consumed or even be delicious… it’s just such a shame.
    beyond “there are people starving on this planet”. the sheer disregard for the energy (human, animal, commercial, electricity/etc.) that is wasted on this dining fad…
    institution of “weighed plates” would cut down on over-indulgence, but not the waste factor. at the very least food-safe methods should be utilized to ensure that properly-handled leftovers find their way to humans, not hog farms (as is the case in the doc). I feel like a hypocrite when i type that– is it wrong of me to feel that the food should be donated? clearly enough revenue is available from these and other outfits that the hungry could be fed– what’s a better way? (other than the obvious)

  9. #9 Dave Munger
    January 21, 2008


    Actually the polling service captures (roughly) the location that someone posts their answer from, so I was really interested in where a person considered themselves to be “from.” We’ll have two different data points from each person.


  10. #10 JA
    January 23, 2008

    In your lead-in you ask, “Which states have the most buffet-style restaurants?” But I don’t see how the survey questions address that in any way. Frequency of dining by readers may be correlated with number of restaurants in the state, or it may not. I’m suspecting in this case that it is distinctly NOT, since readers will tend to be more urban, more educated, etc than the general state population. Most buffet restaurants in my state (CA) are probably concentrated in areas far, far from where I live.

  11. #11 JA
    January 23, 2008

    Oops. Just re-read the question and realized that “diner” means person, not restaurant. Ignore previous post.

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