Caution: Coffee Spill Ahead

Oct 11, 2002

By George Anderson

Today’s mobile citizenry does just about everything on the road. Today, we talk on cell phones, send emails, watch videos and sit-down for meals all within the confines of our automobiles. This emphasis on taking our lives with us while we travel offers retail opportunities, but it also requires caution on the part of consumers.

The Chicago Tribune reports that approximately twenty percent of meals eaten by adults in the U.S. are consumed behind the wheel of a car. Nearly two-thirds of consumers eat while driving and seventeen percent report eating often while in the car.

Hagerty Classic Insurance of Traverse City, Michigan has developed a top-10 list of the most dangerous foods to eat while driving. According to the Tribune article, “foods are rated according to the degree of distraction, degree of difficulty in eating with only one hand on the wheel and the food’s popularity.”

Here is Hagerty’s list of dangerous road foods. It’s interesting to note that these also tend to be some of the most popular on-the-go foods.

  1. Coffee. A hot beverage in the lap is never fun, although it has turned out to be quite lucrative for litigious consumers.

  2. Hot soup. This category of products is intended for internal consumption only. Experts strongly recommend against wearing it.

  3. Tacos. Sour cream and navy blue pin-strip suits do not go together. Perhaps this is the reason there always appears to be a short line at the Taco Bell drive-thru window.

  4. Chili. Tastes great but doesn’t wear well.

  5. Juicy Hamburgers. We’re assuming that the desiccated variety found at many fast feeder is okay, as long as consumers don’t get too messy with the condiments.

  6. Barbecue. Research demonstrates that the average American male can not help but use his clothes as a napkin.

  7. Fried chicken. It’s no good without the grease.

  8. Jelly and cream-filled donuts. We always attempt to eat these with our head tilted back. We do not advise doing this while driving.

  9. Soft drinks. Hagerty’s clearly hasn’t learned about cup holders yet.

  10. Chocolate. It not only melts in your mouth. It melts in your hands, on your lap, your upholstery, etc.

Moderator’s Comment: Two questions:

  1. How can retailers position themselves as an on-the-go
    meals provider to consumers?

  2. What will they need to do to differentiate themselves
    from the other merchants vying for this business? [George
    Anderson – Moderator

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