Jun Wei, Xiaojuan Ma, Shengdong Zhao
Food is more than just a means of survival; it is also a form of communication. In this paper, we investigate the potential of food as a social message carrier (a.k.a., food messaging). To investigate how people accept, use, and perceive food messaging, we conducted exploratory interviews, a field study, and follow-up interviews over four weeks in a large information technology (IT) company. We collected 904 messages sent by 343 users. Our results suggest strong acceptance of food messaging as an alternative message channel. Further analysis implies that food messaging embodies characteristics of both text messaging and gifting. It is preferred in close relationships for its evocation of positive emotions. As the first field study on edible social messaging, our empirical findings provide valuable insights into the uniqueness of food as a message carrier and its capabilities to promote greater social bonding.