About Eating Food in Cars

Because us journalists easily buy into the "this is brand new" that automakers spoon-feed us every day, we don't really see the way cars are actually being used. Sure, we know everything about everything, but we don't actually know that much about what people really do with the new automobiles they buy. The only real cars we care about are the press test vehicles and our own little monsters, which in my case is a hatchback with dirty matts and filled with biscuit crumbs…
Which brings me to my question of the day: what's the relationship between food and cars? At first glance, it sounds like a very stupid question, but I know there's a serious connection. Cars are connected to the obesity problems Americans are facing and all of them come with built-in places to store everything from a Twix bar to a full McDonald's meal and a six-pack of beer.

I think we change our eating habits when we're in a car. Traveling for mile after mile, over hills and through villages, gives you a little sense of adventure. Maybe that triggers our brains into thinking food is scarce, thus increasing our appetite for fatty or sugary foods. I've seen normally reserved eaters wolf down way more than they can handle, just because you've taken them somewhere they've never been before.

I think this is one of the least talked about subjects concerning our relationship with cars. We care what the V8 consumes, but never second guess what we guzzle, as if thinking that whatever we don't eat under the roof of your own home doesn't count. The behavior is most easily noticed with van or pickup owners, professionals who depend on their haulers for their livelihoods.

The way side door bins on new models have grown the past few years kind of tells me automakers know that we like to eat in our cars. And don't even get me started on cupholders. Some reviewers don't even take a pickup seriously unless its cupholder's can't take the gallon paper cup. I struggle to think of too many cars without at least two of them, and those are usually supercars.

Now that a wheel-to-mouth connection has been established, I feel the need to categorize. Most people fall within a few major categories.

There are the sippers and nibblers. These are the folks that can drink from the same medium cup of coffee from morning till noon, maybe snack on a pack of spicy jalapeño stix or gummy bears. Some folks intentionally drink and eat moderately because driving gives them some sort of motion sickness or they just don't want to go to the toilet that often.

There's a gray area where 50% of us occasional spicy nuggets/McWraps/medium fries eaters fit in and after that there's the engorgers, the guzzlers and the wolfers area. Everybody knows one person of this type. They have a box of donuts on the passenger seat, their spouse is always nagging them about their weight and the interior always smells like McDonald's.

Lastly, there are the "not in my car" people, who like their motor as clean as the day they bought it. None of their friends are allowed to bring food inside the car and they prefer to have their Big Mac with fries on the trunk of their car because otherwise it stinks up the cabin.

So, what and how do you like to eat in your car?
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About the author: Mihnea Radu
Mihnea Radu profile photo

Mihnea's favorite cars have already been built, the so-called modern classics from the '80s and '90s. He also loves local car culture from all over the world, so don't be surprised to see him getting excited about weird Japanese imports, low-rider VWs out of Germany, replicas from Russia or LS swaps down in Florida.
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