Penchant For Pasta, the Results Are In

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New survey reveals whether Americans twirl or cut their pasta.

There’s a whole lot of twirling going on – with pasta that is. According to a recent survey commissioned by Olive Garden and conducted by Harris Interactive®, 77 percent of U.S. adult pasta eaters, twirl, rather than cut, long noodle pasta, and 58 percent of Americans(1) use their plate, rather than a spoon, to twirl it.

The survey also found that more than 50 percent of respondents are eating pasta at least once a week and most frequently as a family meal (41 percent). From among a selection of 20 pastas, spaghetti is America’s favorite and tomato, or marinara, the preferred sauce(2). First and second runners up included lasagna and fettuccine for pasta preference and Alfredo and Bolognese, came in second and third respectively for favorite sauce.

And, with all this twirling going on, almost two-thirds of Americans (63 percent)(3) say they end up with a little sauce on themselves or their clothing, while enjoying their pasta.

The survey was commissioned as part of Olive Garden’s Never Ending Pasta Bowl promotion on the menu from Aug. 29 through Oct. 16. The 11th-annual restaurant tradition features six sauces, including new Mushroom Alfredo and Five Cheese Marinara – all made from fresh ingredients daily – and seven pastas, for 42 possible combinations.

Olive Garden is the leading restaurant in the Italian dining segment with 563 restaurants, 70,000 employees and more than $2 billion in annual sales. Olive Garden is a division of Darden Restaurants Inc. (NYSE:DRI), the world’s largest casual dining company. Visit Olive Garden’s website at

About the Survey

Harris Interactive® fielded the online survey on behalf of Olive Garden between July 27 and 29, 2005 among a nationwide sample of 2,011 U.S. adults aged 18 and older, of whom 1,978 eat pasta. The data were weighted to be representative of the total U.S. adult population on the basis of region, age within gender, education, household income, race/ethnicity and propensity to be online. Though this online sample is not a probability sample, in theory, with probability samples of this size, Harris Interactive estimates with 95 percent certainty that the overall results have a sampling error of plus or minus 3.3 percentage points. Sampling error for the results of those who eat pasta is plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.

1. U.S. adults 18 and older who eat pasta.

2. Among U.S. adult pasta eaters who eat pasta most frequently with sauce.

3. U.S. adults 18 and older who eat pasta; net of sometimes, often and always.

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Katie Lennon
Olive Garden
954-776-1999 240
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