Why Some Food Tastes Like Nostalgia and Induces Memories

Food can mean many things — it can be the difference between a good day and a bad day; it can be what turns you from a cranky person to a docile human being; it is offered as a welcome item — the meaning and multitudes of food items are many. But most importantly, food is comfort, with some dishes being more comforting than others. Some food flavors, like a birthday cake or a popsicle, can induce memories. And it seems there’s a scientific reason for this!

Food Nostalgia

Have you ever eaten a popsicle and immediately been transported to a long-forgotten summer afternoon? Or ever munched on a cold pizza and felt like you were a broke yet hopeful student in college? This phenomenon is considered to be food-induced nostalgia. To put it scientifically, certain foods reinforce familiar and cultural bonds. These food products not only bring back fond memories, but they can also make you feel a little more connected to your self-identity. This is why home-cooked meals are heavy with nostalgia — their taste often invokes a feeling of safety and being cocooned in the arms of your childhood home.

The 2020 Nostalgia

2020 saw the internet flooding with recipes, and more often than not people gravitated toward comfort foods like shepherd pie and lasagna. As the world was uncertain, and the future hung in the balance, many people turned to the solace found in food from the past. Miranda Tapsell, an Australian actor, author, and self-confessed foodie, commented on how she was indulging in nostalgia-inducing food during hard times along with her husband. She also spoke about how food not only provides comfort but often becomes a thing that brings people together and becomes the center of many gatherings.