Beyond Words

Words, Wit and Wisdom for Today's Style and Decision Makers

What is Your Mouth Behavior? February 26, 2022

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 9:40 pm

I’m here to say I love texture. Texture in home décor, apparel, and come to find out: food. I love textured wallpaper, throw pillows, and furniture with interwoven fibers and a nice mix of elements in a room. I also love fall and winter clothing over summer outfits, and the food I put in my mouth I’m a bit picky about. I’ve never liked anything squishy or slimy like scallops, gnocchi, or dumplings and I’m not a big fan of rice. The only time I (shockingly) veer off this food course is oysters. I do like them and especially the chargrilled ones at Drago’s in New Orleans. On the whole though, I don’t like anything slimy and recent studies confirm we all have food texture preferences.



An article entitled “Model for understanding consumer textural food choice” at caught my eye as it detailed categories of food eaters and how product development and marketing are developing products based on all of this. I love this kind of stuff and you will too as you figure out whether you’re a Cruncher, Chewer, Sucker, or Smoosher.


Apparently there is a definite relationship between what foods we like and tend to purchase and our chewing behavior. How we manipulate food in our mouths is a key indicator of food preference. Research was done on this and some of the results included test participants saying things like:


  • I like to suck on hard candy until it fully dissolves
  • I usually break up hard candy quickly and swallow it
  • I prefer hard crunchy cookies to soft chewy ones
  • I prefer soft creamy candies to hard candies


Are you feeling a food texture choice yet? Wait, there’s more!


So, the four “mouth behavior” groups mentioned above fall into two modes of mouth actions. Crunchers and Chewers make up Mode One in that they like to use their teeth to break down foods. Crunchers are more forceful biters and like foods that break up upon biting while Chewers like foods that can be chewed a bit longer. Suckers and Smooshers make up Mode Two and prefer to manipulate food between the tongue and roof of their mouth. Suckers like harder foods like hard candies and anything they hold in their mouths and suck for a long time (keep it clean here readers) while Smooshers prefer soft foods like creamy candies and puddings. Check out the below chart courtesy to start getting a hint at where you might fall.



Table 1. Examples of products chosen by the different mouth behavior groups

Types of products chosen Mouth behavior classification group
Chocolate with nuts, hard chocolate cookies with nuts, CheetosR and RufflesR (PepsiCo), raw broccoli Crunchers
Gummy Bears, StarburstsR (Wrigley Co.), Twix (Mars, Inc), Kettle and CheetosR Puffs (PepsiCo), soft granola bars Chewers
Goat cheese, Buffalo mozzarella, French onion soup, whipped cream Smooshers
Jolly Ranchers hard candies, Werthers OriginalsR (August Storck KG) butterscotch pieces Suckers



My gut feeling tells me I’m a Cruncher as I love all the food listed for them but I also love anything gummy like Gummy Bears and Swedish Fish and prefer creamy peanut butter (which I adore) over crunchy. That’s why it was good to learn that just because someone falls into one of the four groups doesn’t mean they can’t spend time in other groups. It merely indicates foods more chosen and more delightful or satisfying. Amen as I also really like pudding and chewy caramels. Hmmmmm….



So, let’s dive further. The following chart is a great place to find your texture presence.


Table 4. Response patterns of behavior groups shown from survey questions

Chewers Crunchers Suckers Smooshers
Prefer products they can chew Prefer hard crunchy cookies over soft chewy Prefer hard candy over soft Let cereal get soft or eat soft cereals like oatmeal
Prefer chewy candy over hard candy Prefer hard granola bars over soft Like chocolate hard enough to suck on Prefer soft creamy candies over hard candy
Would choose dried fruit that is chewy Eat ice cream right out of the freezer Like to suck a long time on candy Prefer thick creamy snacks over crispy
Like chocolate with good chewing texture Like apples that are crisp Always have hard candy around Prefer flavored ice cream with no pieces
Prefer cereals like Cheerios or flakes Like raw vegetables Like mints with some burn Chewing gum hurts their jaw
Do not prefer chocolates hard enough to suck on Prefer ice cream with crunchy pieces Like high carbonation in drinks Like food that is soft and spreads through the mouth
Do not like to play with food in the mouth Smoosh foods that they could chew




Interesting, right? Let’s take chocolate as an easy way of delineating the four groups out.  Suckers tend to like chocolate that is hard enough to suck on, Smooshers prefer chocolate that melts fast, Crunchers choose chocolate that contains nuts, and Chewers opt for chocolate with a good chewing texture. Okay, this helps out because I tend to like chocolate with nuts. Give me a Snickers, Heath bar, or chocolate chip cookies any day.


If need be however, we all can easily adapt one type of food and its texture to one we prefer. For example, if a Cruncher is eating a soft food, they are more likely to choose one with nuts or chips. A Chewer eating a crunchy cereal will often add chewy ingredients like raisins.



As mentioned above, all of this is very helpful in marketing and product design. Designers and developers are now creating products for each of the four mouth behaviors when possible and are realizing that product textures and messages no longer resonate with everyone. I wouldn’t care how appealing and pretty an ad for scallops might be, it won’t ever convince me to buy the product. Now that you know this, I bet you’ll start noticing words like “creamy,” “crunchy,” “smooth,” and “crispy” in food product advertising.



Two more areas all of this impacts are the elderly and the obese. Think about it, elderly often have dental issues and devices in their mouths, making food manipulation more challenging. Crunchers probably have trouble with very crunchy foods as they age and instead of choosing softer foods, they may lose their appetites all together and be at risk of dangerous weight loss.


Weight gain also comes into play, but for everyone. It was hypothesized that once someone understands their preferred mouth behavior, they can better enhance compliance with diet and weight management regimes. WW, formerly known as Weight Watchers, has taken this idea and successfully run with it, believing that by eating the food that appeals to your mouth behavior, the more likely one is to maybe lose weight and at the very least, be more satisfied and eat less.


Again, I find this kind of stuff fascinating. Now I know why I love Ruffles, crispy bacon, snap peas, cookies, apples, and Cheerios, but I can also relish a good steak, creamy cheeses, grapes, and those heavenly Swedish Fish. This Cruncher is a bite away from bliss. How about you? Are you a Cruncher, Chewer, Sucker, or Smoosher?

















Big Boom in Small Towns February 8, 2022

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 6:52 pm

Close your eyes for just a moment and think of the theme song to Mayberry RFD. I bet you know it and I bet it makes you smile. Something about Mayberry, as fictional and unrealistic as it was, makes many of us long for the relaxed and laidback life Andy, Barney, Aunt B., Opie, Howard, Thelma Lou, and the rest of the gang enjoyed in their all-American village.


Or maybe, sing along to John Mellencamp’s hit “Small Town.”

I can be myself here in this small town
And people let me be just what I want to be
Got nothing against a big town
Still hayseed enough to say
Look who’s in the big town
But my bed is in a small town
Oh, and that’s good enough for me


Both my husband and I grew up in small towns and went to college in small towns. His hometown is actually referred to as “the village” and if Norman Rockwell could paint a town, it would make the perfect model for his brushes. We raised our daughter in a suburb of a big city that had a “small town feel.” Everyone loved the ice cream shop, adults were addressed as “Ms. Smith” and “Mr. Lopez” regardless of how well you knew them, and Friday Night Lights football meant the whole town came out. It was idyllic in that it was “small” but near a big city.


We’ve lived in that big city for 36 years now. We started in the central part of town but with each move we’ve moved further and further away from downtown and now live in what is often considered one of Texas’ most charming small towns. We’re still close enough to the city…a city that has exploded over the past 10 years…but we are far enough away from the things crippling it and many of America’s cities.


Come to find out, we’re not alone in moving out and moving away.


It seems there’s a boom in relocating to boom towns of small town America. Granted, some may be suburbs of bigger cities but it’s still becoming more and more apparent that Americans are growing somewhat weary of what living in a city really entails. Crime. Traffic. High cost-of-living. Leaders that seem far-removed and out-of-touch from their lives and concerns. And most recently, what’s being taught in our public schools and what’s not being taught. For the first time in recent years, the decline in U.S. rural population that began in 2010 reversed itself. Small towns, it seems, are having a big comeback. If you watch the news or read the reports, it’s easy to figure out why. Another day of grab-and-go retail robberies, protests protesting protestors, division, crowded everything, and noise.


As more and more shake the dust off of their city shoes in exchange for perhaps the dust of the outskirts of town, they are reportedly not only surviving but thriving. After two-plus years now of societal isolation, those making the move say they love the connectedness that small towns have perfected and they love how helpful and friendly people are.



Granted, a slower paced life in a smaller community is not for everyone and we need city dwellers! Yes, it’s great to live near good restaurants, fabulous art and activities, and an airport, but it’s also nice to have space and peace and quiet. A fast-paced life is much easier on the young than even the young-at-heart, so what’s somewhat surprising is that young couples, families, and even millennials are taking part in the move to move away. They’re choosing to nest. Choosing to create a home and life that are comfortable and comforting. Perhaps they’re trying to replicate their own childhood memories.




“A longing for our childhood home never leaves us. Wherever we live, we carry inside us a vision of the place in which we were, if not in every case happiest, then first conscious of the world beyond ourselves.” Marcel Proust


I couldn’t agree more. Maybe it’s because in the past month my family sold my childhood home as we moved our mom into assisted living. My life may not have been perfect and full of only happy memories in that home, but it was my home. Now, I’ll likely never step foot in that simple yet special house again.



As some of you are grappling with the same issues, maybe you’re thinking of moving to a small town to bring back that hometown feel. Slow things down. As we age, time does in fact speed up and feels like it goes faster and faster by the years. This is no mere perception, but perhaps science as Adrian Bejan recently surmised. The professor presented an argument based on the physics of neural signal process and hypothesized that, over time, the rate at which we process visual information slows down. This is what makes time “speed up” as we age. I always thought it was because we see fewer and fewer years ahead of us but I’m going with the scientist.



A slow down to this speeding up of time is maybe what we of a certain age are craving as we consider small town living. Places where doctors are nearby and know your name, school boards are accountable and listen, “shopping local” means shopping small, and common courtesy is common place.  At the very least, we seem to all be gravitating to neighborhoods and communities that offer what many consider small town assets. Having everything has been replaced by having certain things.



The past few years have taken a toll on all of us. Cities still seem to be masked up while small towns are less so. We’ve heard again and again the benefits of both minimalism (culling possessions and keeping only essentials) and maximalism (accumulating even what you don’t need or hoarding) but as one of my favorite bloggers of SusanAfter60 recently wrote, maybe it’s time for essentialism…culling what’s not essential and accumulating what is. Even Mary Poppins knows enough is as good as a feast and said so in one of my favorite quotes of all time. You might have less possessions but each one will hopefully serve you well. Wherever you live.