Skip to content

The #1 Most Hated Food In America—Revealed!

“Divisive” might be putting it lightly.

Most of us have strong preferences when it comes to what we eat. However, there are some foods that are more universally loathed. In fact, when Instacart conducted a survey of over 2,000 Americans to find out what items people would prefer to leave off their plates, one fishy ingredient came out on top as the most hated food in America.

A whopping 43% of adults between the ages of 18 and 44 said they can't stand anchovies and that number went up to 56% for those over 45, making the tinned fish the most hated food of this survey. Looking at the numbers slightly differently, it was found that 43% of men hate anchovies while 58% of women can't stand the fish. When it comes to ordering anchovies from Instacart, the company noted that D.C., New Mexico, Massachusetts, Oregon, and New York order the most anchovies in the country. On the other hand, residents of Missouri, Indiana, Alabama, North Dakota, and Iowa order the fewest.

 This Is #1 Cut of Steak in America, Reveals New Survey

Although you might assume that anchovies simply don't appeal to American palates, a 2014 survey of British residents found that 44% of UK diners couldn't stand it either, which put it at the top of the list, according to The Independent.

canned anchovy fillets and baguette slices
MaraZe / Shutterstock

As for what makes anchovies so unappealing, Laurentia Romaniuk, Instacart's trends expert, explained that people aren't keen on the "briny, fishy flavor profile." Along with two of the other top contenders for most hated food, oysters and black licorice, they "present chewy textures that can prove challenging for certain people. The complex interplay of these unique flavors and textures is likely why they're at the top of the list, and it's also the reason we're not seeing foods like white bread show up."

Beyond that, NPR's Kitchen Window noted that "[a]nchovies, those scary slivers of canned fish, have a taste so pungent, so intensely fishy and salty that when served improperly, they can make the heartiest eater recoil from their punch."

 9 Highest-Quality Canned Fish Brands, According to a Dietitian

At the same time, if you've ever visited places like Portugal or Italy, you might have found yourself unexpectedly enjoying anchovies in your meal. Although that may have been due to the preparation, there's also another reason why they may have tasted different than the ones you've tried in the U.S. "It is because Americans are used to industrial anchovies. They're right. They are awful," Beatrice Ughi, president of the Italian import company Gustiamo, told The Wall Street Journal.

Perhaps that means you don't really hate the fish as much as you thought you did. Maybe you just need to try higher-quality anchovies that are prepared in a delicious dish instead of simply tossed onto your Friday night pizza.

Desirée O
Desirée O is a freelance writer who covers lifestyle, food, and nutrition news among other topics. Read more about Desirée