The experiential pleasure of food

Statement of Problem and its Importance

This track originates from a simple but hard to tackle question: to what extent and how does the focus on the experiential pleasure of food modify the research agenda of scholars investigating the role of healthy eating in promoting food well-being?

We argue a preliminary answer is detectable in the role of pleasure in terms of hedonic consumption (Hirshman and Holbrook 1982; Holbrook and Hirshman 1982) and epicurean eating (Cornil and Chandon 2016), which is defined as “the enduring pleasure derived from the aesthetic appreciation of the sensory and symbolic value of the food” (Cornil and Chandon 2016, p.52). We believe that pleasure plays an important but often neglected role in the making of personal and social well-being. Pleasure, as applied to a TCR agenda, calls for synergistic theoretical and methodological approaches that we are confident will lead to interesting and novel ideas related to food well-being.

The notion of pleasure depends on the sociocultural context and the food culture where it has been shaped. For example, in the North American food culture, the notion of pleasure (Alba and Williams 2013) is separated from an individual’s daily life and is limited to special times where guilty pleasures (e.g., indulging in chocolate) are a moral failing. In the European food culture, especially in the French context, food education is based on everyday pleasurable food experiences. Pleasure in the French culture refers to a moral value because it serves as a compass guiding people in their actions (Stearns 1997). French parents begin teaching their children about this moral value from early childhood in a process called “the education of taste” (Reverdy 2009). This idea has much in common with the notion of mindfulness that refers to giving one’s self over to the moment and living it fully. Experiential aspects related to food such as discovering novelty, epicurean eating, tasting, experimenting, hedonism, estheticism, and symbolism are all part of food pleasure and education to facilitate the adoption of healthy diet and achieve food well-being.

The idea of epicurean consumption of food and its contribution to improve healthy eating has recently been highlighted in a research conducted by Cornil and Chandon (2015, 2016) who explored the impact of pleasure on adopting healthy eating behaviors by reducing portion size and thus improving consumer well-being. In their research, Cornil and Chandon (2016) compared a visceral food approach based on biological needs and a new epicurean approach based on enduring pleasure to explore the role of aesthetic appreciation of the sensory and symbolic value of the food in healthy eating and well-being. The results of their research showed that, unlike visceral eating, epicurean eating tendencies are associated with a preference for smaller food portions and higher food well-being.

This TCR track will explore hedonic consumption and the epicurean perspective, which suggests that experiential food pleasure may in fact facilitate moderation and well-being (Cornil and Chandon 2016). In line with the prior research in marketing on the role of design on overeating (Wansink and Chandon 2014), the French paradox of meal cessation (Wansink, Payne, and Chandon 2007), wine and sensory expectation in North America (Wansink, Payne, and North 2007) and comfort food preferences across age and gender (Wansink, Cheney, and Chan 2003), this track will take a holistic and sociocultural perspective to explore the role of pleasure in food consumption and understand how the experiential side of food pleasure may drive healthy eating habits in different food cultures.

Goal of the Experiential Pleasure of Food Track

The Experiential Pleasure of Food track will bring together academic researchers within the TCR community to explore from a sociocultural and an epicurean perspective the “Experiential Pleasure of Food” that might drive healthy eating behaviors. Topics and questions we may focus on include:

  • What does experiential pleasure of food mean? And what are its key determinants?
  • How can we define the relationship between experiential pleasure of food and food culture?
  • What are the other macro and micro factors affecting the experiential pleasure of food?
  • Do these factors and the dynamics vary across the different food cultures?
  • Does healthy eating related to the experiential pleasure of food consumption play out differently in a very “pleasurable” food culture like France and a more “visceral” food culture like the US?
  • What are the policies and marketing actions gastronomic restaurant, marketers, policy makers and other stakeholder can apply to promote pleasurable and thus healthy eating behaviors?

We seek researchers from across the world with an interest in experiential pleasure of food consumption and epicurean eating. All disciplinary, theoretical (e.g., practice theory, sociological of food theory, anthropology of food, etc.) and methodological (e.g., experimental, qualitative, etc.) perspectives are welcomed. We aim to stimulate collaborative work that will shed new light on the experiential pleasure of food, food well-being and the challenges and opportunities associated with identifying epicurean eating behaviors, and their impact on promoting healthy eating.

Discussion in this track may address conceptual, methodological, and empirical issues in the field of experiential food consumption research and multicultural markets at large. The goal of the track is to offer a conceptual and theoretical framework able to provide marketing and public policy makers guidelines to promote healthy eating through a new approach « the Experiential Pleasure of Food ». The conference track will serve as a workshop to allow conceptualizing the experiential pleasure of food consumption, synthesizing and writing up emergent ideas in order to submit a paper or more to the TCR conference journals.

Track Structure


  • Building a shared knowledge on the experiential pleasure of food literature. The objective is to identify in the multidisciplinary literature a set of 8-10 foundational papers dealing with topic that each participant will analyze during the fall. Each participant will be invited to suggest one or two key papers that all should read.
  • Track co-chairs will then develop a Facebook (FB) discussion group to facilitate the sharing of information, citations, articles, and generation of ideas. The data will be posted on the FB group so that participants can get acquainted prior to the conference.
  • Participants will analyze the literature on one or two topics related to the experiential pleasure of food and then come to the conference with a prepared poster that highlights their contribution that will serve to enrich our conceptual framework.

Conference day 1:

The conference will serve to develop a conceptual framework for understanding the experiential pleasure of food and healthy eating for future empirical research. We invite each track participant to engage in preconference work so that our time together is productive.

Morning session: a roundtable session and brainstorm.

Participants will present their posters and contribute to the roundtable to work on the issues that have been raised prior to the conference. The role of the co-chairs is to make it simple by focusing on real problems, limited referencing, dialogical discussions among the participants with guidance and emphasis on TCR and well-being, and shifting chairing. Synthesis of key points and discussion about the research contribution to TCR literature will be identified.

Afternoon session: Discussion of policy implications of findings. Preparation of the poster and synthesis of key points and potential contribution of the study to promote healthy eating through an experiential pleasure of food approach. The definition of a positioning strategy moving from some key relevant issues in TCR to integrate or redefine some of the key concepts and constructs and the main factors emphasizing the transformations in the discipline.

Conference day 2

Morning session: TCR conference outcomes

Continue the work that has been initiated the day before, with a focus on the TCR conference outcomes with at least two collaborative articles: one in to be submitted to the official TCR-journal conference JBR special issue and Journal of Consumer Culture. The structure and the content of each research project will be defined. In addition, the tasks attributed to each sub-team will be defined and discussion of future possibilities for funding and grant proposal submission.

Afternoon session: Present the outcomes of the track and main research projects and TCR circle.

Post conference:

work in small teams on the research projects such as book proposal and special issue and continue collaboration by furthering our research to other cultural contexts based on the topics developed in the conceptual TCR articles.

Please contact the corresponding track chairs for questions about this track:

Wided Batat

University of Lyon 2

Paula Peter

San Diego State University,

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  1. Alba, J. W., & Williams, E. F. (2013). Pleasure principles: a review of research on hedonic consumption. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 23, 2–18.
  2. Block, L. G., Grier, S. A., Childers, T. L., Davis, B., Ebert, J. E. J., Kumanyika, S., et al. (2011). From nutrients to nurturance: a conceptual introduction to food well- being. Journal of Public Policy & Marketing, 30, 5–13.
  3. Cornil, Y, & Chandon, P. (2016), “Pleasure as an Ally of Healthy Eating? Contrasting Visceral and Epicurean Eating Pleasure and Their Association with Portion Size Preferences and Wellbeing,” Appetite, 104, 52–59.
  4. Hirschman, E. C., & Holbrook, M. B. (1982). Hedonic consumption: emerging concepts, methods and propositions. The Journal of Marketing, 92–101.
  5. Holbrook, M. B., & Hirschman, E. C. (1982). The experiential aspects of consumption: consumer fantasies, feelings, and fun. Journal of Consumer Research, 9, 132–140.
  6. Reverdy, C. (2009). Effet d’une éducation sensorielle sur les préférences et les comportements alimentaires d’enfants en classe de cours moyen. PhD dissertation. Université de Bourgogne, France.
  7. Stearns, P. (1997). Fat history. New York: New York University Press.
  8. Wansink, B., & Chandon, P. (2014). Slim by design: redirecting the accidental drivers of mindless overeating. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 24, 413–431.
  9. Wansink, B., Cheney, M. M., & Chan, N. (2003). Exploring comfort food preferences across age and gender. Physiology & Behavior, 79, 739–747.
  10. Wansink, B., Payne, C. R., & Chandon, P. (2007). Internal and external cues of meal cessation: the French Paradox Redux? Obesity, 15, 2920–2924.
  11. Wansink, B., Payne, C. R., & North, J. (2007). Fine as North Dakota wine: sensory expectations and the intake of companion foods. Physiology & Behavior, 90, 712–716.