My gear is ready for Super Bowl Sunday. I’ve got my team jersey on standby, and my apron, too.
Apron? That’s right. Because on Super Bowl Sunday, just as on many other days of the year, real men are hanging out in the kitchen. Men are cooking more for entertainment, for pleasure and for the family. They’re not just donning the “kiss the cook” apron and flipping burgers and steaks on the barbecue, though. These days, plenty of men, like myself, are cooking panko-crusted chicken, steak au poivre, and pork chops for the family during the week. And on this Sunday, I’m betting I’ll be one of many millions of men cheering and watching from the stove as I make wings, burgers and twice-baked potatoes for the game.
As gender roles shift and more men take on household responsibilities, we’re seeing a rise in guys who like to cook. Men are comfortable in the grocery store, and in the kitchen, too, according to a recent Generation X report from the University of Michigan. The report found that married men in Generation X (those born between 1961 and 1981) said they prepped 34 meals in a typical month, compared to 51 meals made by married women. Also, young married men said they shopped for food five times a month, only two times fewer than married women. The gap in the kitchen is indeed closing. NPD Group reports that 41% of men are cooking on a regular basis, up from 31% in 1998.
We’ve seen this in our research, too, suggesting that cooking, food and entertaining are categories that are becoming more “guy-friendly” to marketers. For instance, I know of fathers and sons who watch cooking shows together, such as Gordon Ramsay’s “Kitchen Nightmares.” In years past, marketers might have thought of men as only sports-centric when it came to competitive viewing, but now cooking shows have become part of their TV repertoire. Their viewing habits reflect the changing makeup of the kitchen. About half of men 18 to 34 said they participate in the decisions about what gets served at home, according to SMG and the Boston Consulting group.
These changes are occurring for several reasons. For some men, the interest in cooking is about taking a bigger role in personal health and eating choices, and for others it’s because men aren’t necessarily the sole breadwinners anymore, so married couples are splitting household responsibilities. But men have also told us in our studies that they simply like to cook and be creative in the kitchen.
Here’s another interesting tidbit. A United Kingdom study said the ability to cook is actually a key factor for guys in attracting women. So, we can give a big thanks to Gordon Ramsay and Jamie Oliver, who have paved the way in becoming sex symbols for a new generation of women. That trend has opened up opportunities for marketers to reach men with kitchen appliances, cookbooks, and specialty foods.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a vat of chili to cook up for Sunday.