Can ‘happy’ pizza make sad days go away?

By David Burrows

- Last updated on GMT

Which emoji best represents the way you felt after watching Pizza Hut's video? © iStock/microvone
Which emoji best represents the way you felt after watching Pizza Hut's video? © iStock/microvone

Related tags Pizza

Food marketers claim pizza and puppies can bring happiness, but bad marketing and dodgy pseudoscience won't make the January blues go away.

Did you wake up this morning feeling a little glum? If so, you weren’t alone, for today (January 16) is “Blue Monday” – apparently the most depressing day of the year, at least in the northern hemisphere. There’s a complex (and controversial) formula behind the concept, but pseudoscience aside it’s basically the third Monday of the New Year when the holiday joy fades and the bills start to arrive. The grim January weather adds another (damp) layer to the generally gloomy mood. But fear not, the food industry has the answer.

Yes, there really are laughing babies in the video... © Pizza Hut UK

Pizza Hut UK has created a pizza that it believes will help consumers kick the January blues. Working with behavioural psychologists and a nutritionist they have created a “mood-enhancing” dish.

A look at the toppings and it’s nothing bizarre: tomato sauce, mozzarella, tuna, red onion, olives and sweetcorn.

Here’s the theory, according to nutritionist Rebecca Hirst: “Oily fish such as tuna is a source of tryptophan that is converted in the brain to serotonin. The same applies to mozzarella cheese – the body uses the protein to synthesise serotonin and dopamine from amino acids. Finally, colourful, crunchy vegetables visually stimulate our senses – a rainbow of colour helps us enjoy our food ‘with our eyes’ and gets our taste buds tingling so that we salivate and our body prepares to digest our food well.”

Nutritionally, it all makes sense. However, I’m not sure it’ll help dodge the queasy feeling many of us get when opening the first credit card bill after Christmas. But fear not (again) because Pizza Hut has gone the extra mile: it wants you to eat their pizza whilst watching a two-minute video containing all the key visual and audio cues linked to a feeling of happiness (think puppies and

Throw in some puppies to enhance the multi-sensorial pizza experience. © Pizza Hut UK

tropical beaches).

At the time of writing 299 people had watched the clip​, but only one had ‘liked’ it. My nausea was amplified.

Pizza Express, it should be noted, has done pretty much the same: name-checking the nutritionist involved in its ‘mood boosting pizza’ that promises to “turn that post-festive frown upside down”. Baked salmon, baby spinach and a boiled egg offer mega-3 fats as well as vitamins B3, B12 and D.

It’s understandable that marketers need something to fill the post-Christmas void: encouraging people to head out for pizza on a wet January evening just a few days into their 2017 diets is never going to be easy. But throwing a cocktail of serotonin, cartoon puppies and ‘happiness research’ at them isn’t the way to go about it.

I don’t know what it is, but I’m not the one paid a six-figure salary to worry about that.

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