Boomers and Zoomers don’t always agree about politics and cultural issues, but when it comes to dining out, they have a lot more in common than they may realize.

A 2023 nationwide survey of more 2,000 consumers from Y-Pulse found common ground between Baby Boomers and Generation Z regarding preferences in sharing meal experiences and food traditions.

“So often we see significant differences in the dining habits and preferences among consumers in different generations, yet the findings in this recent study confirm that food really does bring people together,” said Sharon Olson, executive director of Y-Pulse. “It was encouraging to hear study participants of all ages saying that they enjoy creating their own food traditions when they cook with friends and family.”

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The survey found three areas of agreement among the generations:

Sharing Food Experiences Is Important
Among those surveyed, consumers of all ages enjoy sharing meal experiences with others both at home and in a restaurant. Eighty-five percent of Baby Boomers and 86% of Gen Z study participants said they prefer sharing meals with other people rather than dining alone. When a restaurant visit includes sit down-dining rather than a fast-food stop, 83% of Baby Boomers and 86% of Gen Z consumers reported that they prefer to share a dining experience with others.

Members of both generations enjoy food market venues where a group of diverse tastes and preferences can share food experiences. Eighty percent of Baby Boomers and 87% of Gen Z study participants agreed that takeout from different stands at a food market makes it easy to share a meal with others when not everyone in the party wants the same type of food.

Embracing Food Traditions Is Meaningful
Nostalgic foods and family traditions are important and appealing to Boomers and Zoomers alike. Not only do both generations appreciate old family recipes, they enjoy creating new traditions. Eighty-eight percent of Baby Boomers and 84% of Gen Z respondents said old family recipes were among their favorite meals. There was also strong interest in creating their own food traditions when cooking for friends and family, according to 76% of Baby Boomers and 82% of Gen Z participants.

Living the Local Food Lifestyle Is Appealing
Members of both Baby Boomer and Gen Z groups agreed that they prefer to order menu items with locally sourced ingredients, at 74% and 72% respectively. Although the premium price of local goods is a cause for concern among many, the majority of those surveyed said they value locally produced goods enough to pay a premium price. Seventy-one percent of Baby Boomers and 68% of Gen Z say they do not understand why local food items cost so much more than foods that have to be shipped from a distance. Yet 70% of Boomers and 77% of Zoomers are willing to pay a little bit more for food that comes from local producers.

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