7 Ways Restaurants Control Your Mind

The mind can play some pretty powerful tricks on you when it comes to food. Brands have spent decades crafting their presence into the brains of customers, to the extent where even the slightest association to the restaurant brand can make someone crave something to eat. Through commercials, promotions, word-of-mouth, and product placement, we absorb the mind-messery of corporate brands on a daily basis.

While some are strong enough to resist the pull of restaurants, a fair amount of us can’t help but succumb to their Jedi mind tricks. Let’s take a look at seven instances where restaurants control our minds.

McDonald’s: The Red & The Yellow

When your eyes glance over at the iconic color scheme of the fast food burger company, you can’t help but wonder if a slight detour for some generously salted French Fries might be in the realm of possibility.

We know when we see something with a bright red background and the slight detail of yellow in the foreground, our minds instantly associate it with McDonald’s.

Homestead explained why the two colors are prominently featured. Red is said to increase one’s appetite while creating a sense of urgency. This allows customers to both crave food, but not linger once they get their orders. The yellow reflects cheeriness and optimism which parallels McDonald’s popular slogan “I’m Lovin’ It.”

We see you McDonald’s, and that’s a problem for our waistlines.


In-N-Out: Any Social Media Image

This 4 day weekend is looking mighty fine. Thank you @cheatdayeats for the #DreamEats! #VisitCalifornia

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In-N-Out is the rare exception to the fact that fast food product shots look better than the real thing. The California-based burger chain’s product shots look good, don’t get us wrong, but there’s something about a real-life Double Double that’s assembled and oozing with cheese and spread that simply sets a fire in our spirits.

Because of its massive popularity, hundreds of people post photos of their In-N-Out order on social media on a daily basis. The best form or word-of-mouth promotion, our hearts skip a beat whenever we see mounds of melted cheese and glops of spread sauce smothered over a bed of crispy fries.

We can’t stop thinking about In-N-Out for days once we see a peer post that perfect In-N-Out photograph. Pro-tip: Extra Well Done fries are the greatest pairing to any burger.

Popeyes: Fried Chicken Tuesdays

Long time no 🍗🍗 #popeyes #friedchicken #frenchfries #yummy

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It’s Tuesday and you’re just craving something cheap and salty. Unfortunately the nearest taco truck has a line around the block. This happens more often than not on our lunch break and our immediate solution is to round up the squad and head over to Popeyes.

Tuesday’s have become synonymous with grabbing a few fried chicken lovers and heading to the nearest spot and capitalizing on Popeye’s fried chicken special (a leg and a thigh for $1.99). It’s essentially the fried chicken equivalent of Taco Tuesday.

It also doesn’t hurt that Popeyes arguably has one of the best fried chicken offerings around.

Denny’s: 24 Hour Breakfast

Ah, the other red and yellow. Actually, it’s more like yellow and red. Like McDonald’s, Denny’s has a similar effect on us when we see the classic color combination in the distance during a long night drive. The Yellow evokes a calmness and euphoria in us, while the red tells our stomachs we’re actually hungrier than we think.

Combined with our undying love of breakfast foods, we’re more than likely to pull over to the nearest Denny’s. Especially since no matter what time of day, the 24-hour diner chain will serve you breakfast. Just thinking about some fluffy pancakes, crispy bacon, juicy sausage, and an egg as bright as the sun brings a song of joy to our hearts. Especially if I can crush a plateful at 3am.


#Wingstop Caution: Looks As Good As it Appears! 💪🏽🍟 @wingstoppopten The New King of #Memphis

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The name says it all: Wingstop. Pretty often after work, we’re tired and ready to go home and not think about anything for the next 12 or so hours. While our love for chicken wings is truer than the first February arrow of a certain cheeky cherub, we usually hate getting off the freeway to order our chicken and wait for it to finish.

So what’s the allure of one of the most consumed item in the United States? Mass appeal, according to the Financial Post.

Sports fans can gorge on them, gluten-intolerant chicken lovers can enjoy them without getting sick, they’re a communal dish you can eat with your hands, and the wings are custom-tailored to your flavor palette.

So as we cruise down the freeway on our way home, we just call ahead for our wings, stop by to pay and pick up, and are on our merry way to fill our bellies into the night.

Long John Silver’s

The old saying is totally true: you want what you can’t have. Because there are so few Long John Silver’s fast-food seafood locations left in our area, we find ourselves craving them practically every time they’re mentioned.

Folks crave foods of higher calories, especially when they perceive in the heat of the moment that resources are scarce. Lack of nearby Long John Silver’s locations gives us the sense of immediate urgency in eating the fried seafood, regardless of how full we currently are.

It also doesn’t help that pretty much anything on an LJS menu is hot fire, meaning we’ll have to order a platter of everything to satiate our cravings, or make a second trip back at our earliest convenience. Usually, it’s the former.

Little Caesar’s: Hot N Ready

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Cheap, hot, and ready to eat in a matter of seconds. It isn’t a coincidence that Little Caesar’s Crazy Bread is named what it is: this stuff drives us crazy. In an age where time is essentially money there’s definitely something appealing about cheap and hot food you can your hands on in seconds.

Inexpensive, delicious, served in massive portions, and ready to go as soon as you order, the breadsticks have driven us mad on many drives home.

We can’t stop ourselves at one bag either. Typically the first bag acts as a drive-home snack, while the second will be a kingly feast served with a side of ranch dressing. If you’re not completely stuffed with gluten at this point, the deep-dish pizzas are pretty damn good, too.

By Peter Pham

Pete's favorite foods include pizza, tacos and pretty much any kind of breakfast. He'll usually snap a photo or two while his food cools down.