We all know that food really isn’t about sustenance- at least the physical kind.
Sure we need food to fuel our bodies and keep them functioning. But it’s no great secret that food is about emotional nourishment and associations.
I find exploring favorite foods and the feelings they evoke is actually a great exercise to do in brainstorming sessions. It helps to warm up the creative juices and can sometimes have direct implications for developing stronger brands.
I remember once pitching a large Atlanta based airline where we recommended that they serve ice tea to everyone who comes on board to really bring their promise of southern hospitality to life. We even recommended finishing each glass with a small mint leaf in each cup to demonstrate (not just talk about) the special touches the airline was touting in its ad campaigns
I am sure many of you are familiar with the power of the fresh baked chocolate chip cookies on Midwest Airlines. It’s not about the physical need of hunger that’s satisfied. It’s about the emotions of comfort and security that the taste, and most importantly the smell, of the cookie evokes.
Here’s a great game that explores these food feelings. It may seem morbid at first blush, but I find that it actually unlocks a lot of creativity and inspiration if you allow yourself to get into it. It’s really fun to do in groups.
It’s called “Last Meal”.
Here’s the premise. Imagine you are on death row and your execution is tomorrow (stay with me). You are allowed one final meal. Anything you want. What would it be?
Here’s what I would have:
New England clam chowder – the homemade creamy kind with lots of oyster crackers to float in the cup.
Garden salad with iceberg lettuce, plum tomatoes, red onions, and blue cheese dressing (with real hunks of blue cheese). Not too much to overpower the salad, but just enough.
Salt and Pepper corn on the cob- so sweet you don’t need butter (but I’d add it anyway- after all it’s not like I am worried about dying from high cholesterol…and I’d add more salt). I’d butter the corn using corn bread, and then I’d eat the corn bread with all the extra butter and the little kernels sticking to it.
Next up, steamed lobster (again dipped in butter). Here I‘d have one whole Maine lobster and eat the meat from claws, tail, all the little nooks and crannies. But I’d also ask for a few more tails and hope the warden would oblige.
I’d finish it off with strong brewed coffee and my mother’s home made blueberry pie served warm and topped with Coffee Mocha Almond Assault ice cream from Kimball’s Dairy.
Looking back on this last meal what does it tell me about myself?
First, I really like butter.
And second I get a strong association of summer time. Not surprising since I was lucky enough to grow up in Marblehead, a beautiful coastal town on the North Shore of Massachusetts.
I think my last meal is as much about food as it is about happy memories.
Where I grew up in the North East, lobster was never at a fancy restaurant meal. It was always something you picked up from friends who were lobster men or from local seafood shacks and made at home with friends and family.
Many Sundays we would go to dinner at my grandparent’s house in Gloucester Massachusetts. Before my grandmother would put the lobsters in the pot, we’d name them and have them race each other across the kitchen floor (seems a bit cruel now, but it was cool when I was young).
When I was little my parents would do all the hard and messy work of cracking the claws, picking the meat out, etc for me. I would just sit there with my silver spoon (well, stainless steel lobster fork) drown the morsels in real butter and enjoy.
Now that I have a family of my own, we continue this special summer tradition with my kids. It’s my daughter’s requested meal on her first night back home from her summer sleep away camp (which by the way is a Kosher camp, so lobster is definitely a special treat).
All of this adds up to my “last meal” reminding me of childhood, the long carefree days of summer, being loved and taken care of by my family…and of course butter.
That’s my point of view. What’s your twist?
What’s on your “last meal” menu?