There's a compelling reason for the pint of premium ice cream in the freezer, the supply of candy bars in the office desk drawer, or the collection of cereal boxes in the pantry. These are all examples of comfort food, those concoctions which provide a sense of nostalgia or self-satisfaction for the consumer. This type of food is not designed to be especially healthy, but it supplies a welcomed respite from the stresses of the outside world.
Although any food with personal meaning for the consumer could be considered comfort food, many people associate the term with Southern cooking. Traditional Southern recipes often call for significant amounts of sugars, carbohydrates and fats, often all at once. Deep-frying is also a cooking method preferred by Southern cooks. Fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, and biscuits all qualify as comforting for transplanted Southerners or those with relatives in the South.
Comfort foods, especially those high in carbohydrates or fats, is often more satisfying than other offerings. An ideal comfort food should "stick to the ribs", meaning it supplies a sense of fullness and satisfaction long after it has been consumed. Many people choose a personal comfort food for that very reason. A quart of premium ice cream or an extra large slab of ribs can be very emotionally satisfying.
A comfort food may also trigger positive memories of childhood meals or other occasions. Many people seek out ethnic or regional foods as a coping mechanism in an unfamiliar environment. As long as a person can still obtain a favorite food, the rest of the challenges may seem more surmountable. A comfort food such as a childhood cereal or novelty candy may not have the same appeal for others, but many people find great comfort in reconnecting with foods from their earlier years.