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Do college students eat like the rest of us? GrubHub finds out

By Elaine WATSON , 27-Aug-2013
Last updated on 27-Aug-2013 at 16:56 GMT

The number one entree ordered by college students is cheeze pizza
The number one entree ordered by college students is cheeze pizza

Do college students eat like the rest of us? Broadly yes (washed down by a lot more energy drinks), but there are some notable differences, according to online ordering expert GrubHub, which says students are significantly less likely to place ‘healthier’ orders than the average diner when they order takeout.

By examining a school-year’s worth of order data from students ordering food at more than 350 US college campuses, GrubHub found that students are 28% less likely than average GrubHub diners to include healthy substitutions or preparation instructions when ordering (no mayo, salad instead of fries, dressing on the side, light cheese, steam instead of sauté etc).

Energy drinks are 45% more popular with college students

GrubHub also found that certain foods are far more popular with college students than with the average GrubHub diner:

  • Energy drinks are 45% more popular with college students
  • Mozzarella sticks are 186% more popular with college students
  • Cookies are 77% more popular with college students
  • General Tso's Chicken is 70% more popular with college students
  • Sesame Chicken is 67% more popular with college students
  • Wings are 55% more popular with college students

Meanwhile, college students spend 10% less on meals than the average diner, are 70% less likely to order early-morning meals (from 6-9am), and are 87% more likely to order late-night meals (10pm-2am).

The #1 order is cheese pizza

But what are the most popular entrees among college students?

The #1 order is cheese pizza, followed by Pad Thai, General Tso’s Chicken, sesame chicken, chicken tikka masala, chicken wings, Caesar salad, spicy tuna rolls, California rolls and cheeseburgers.

Hey big spender

Partying all night, or burning the midnight oil to study, college students are 45% more likely to order energy drinks than average GrubHub diners

Not surprisingly, Ivy League universities (which charge the highest fees) featured strongly on the list of campuses with the highest average orders on GrubHub’s database led by M.I.T, Yale, Harvard, Stanford and Emory.

At the other end of the spectrum, campuses with the lowest average order subtotal were Syracuse, Virginia Tech, Michigan State, the University of Virginia and Ohio State University.

Students in Chicago order the widest variety of ethnic cuisine

The campuses with the widest variety of ethnic cuisine orders were Columbia College - Chicago, School of the Art Institute - Chicago, New York University, Loyola University and the University of Illinois - Chicago.

Those with the most meat-free orders were Yale, Cornell, Occidental College, Columbia College - Chicago, and the School of the Art Institute - Chicago.

 “Balancing unconventional schedules, heavy workloads and demanding social lives can be a real challenge for college students,” said Mike Evans, GrubHub Seamless COO.

“GrubHub’s website and mobile apps are free to use 24 hours a day, seven days a week, so students can find great food – and caffeine – when they need it most.”

GrubHub Seamless is a leading online and mobile food-ordering company dedicated to connecting diners with local takeout restaurants. It owns a portfolio of brands that includes GrubHub , Seamless , MenuPages  and Allmenus .

Its online and mobile ordering platforms allow diners and 4,000+ corporate businesses to order directly from approximately 25,000 takeout restaurants in more than 500 U.S. cities.


Top of the Class: Trends in College Eating

by GrubHub.
Explore more infographics like this one on the web's largest information design community - Visually.





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