According to Fast Food Nation, 45% of people in the U.K. and 44% of U.S. survey respondents said they liked the taste of fast food so much that they didn’t think they could give it up.
And here are some of the reasons: Fast food cravings do come down to taste, initially.
“People love the way [fast foods] taste,” New York University food studies professor Marion Nestle told Smithsonian Magazine. Manufacturers put a lot of work into creating brand loyalty through marketing and advertisements and "studies show that brand preference trumps taste every time,” Nestle added.
Pizza Hut, In-N-Out Burger, Wendy’s, McDonald’s, and Burger King all use yellow and red in their logos. According to University of Rochester researchers, these colors grab consumers’ attention, stimulate appetite, increase speed, and make us crave fast food.
Restaurants know that scents can induce cravings, and they sometimes pump out artificial scents to draw you in, according to nutrition website Eat This, Not That. One company, ScentAir, actually manufactures artificial aromas that entice your nose. Not only will the smell of fryer get you in the door, it also makes the food more craveable.
According to University of Colorado professor Tom Finger, both taste and smell contribute to flavor. Some scientists even believe smell creates up to 90% of flavor. The smell of fast food increases your sense of taste, causing the experience to also feel more enjoyable.
And, according to Science ABC, junk foods contain an all-star list of feel-good ingredients. Those include sugars, calories, trans fats and saturated fats, but not a lot of vitamins, minerals or fiber. These foods release the neurotransmitters dopamine and oxytocin, which induce relaxation, pleasure and enjoyment. We call them “comfort foods” for a reason—because fast food actually makes us feel better.