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DIGIORNO uses facial recognition tech to show why pizza makes us happy

A social experiment from DIGIORNO found the smell of pizza brings more joy than the first bite.

Frozen pizza brand DIGIORNO has conducted a social experiment that measured pizza’s effect on the moods of partygoers.

Although most people would probably think it’s the first delicious bite that elevates our mood most, participants in the experiment were actually happiest when pizza was baking in the oven and its aroma filled the room.

Baked pizza

To conduct this experiment, DIGIORNO recruited 24 real people to host friends and family for a pizza party at a loft in Manhattan, USA. During three separate gatherings, the room was set up with more than 40 high-resolution cameras that captured footage of guests while pizza baked in the oven, and after it was served.

With the help of facial recognition and emotion-tracking software, the footage was then analysed to identify patterns in emotion. For example, ‘joy’ was classified based on indicators of happiness like smiles and eye movements.

Jeff Hamilton, President, Nestlé Foods Division, Nestlé USA, said: “This experiment gave us unique insight into our belief that oven-fresh pizza helps people get more out of their occasions. “We were able to learn about how, when and why moods may change in response to pizza in an exciting new way.”

Across all three parties, when pizza was in the oven, it coincided with the highest observable increase in joy – even greater than levels reached when the pizza was actually being eaten.

Notable findings included:

  • Pizza Prep: When pizza went into the oven, everyone’s mood improved, with joy increasing up to 18 percentage points.
  • That Smells Great: As smell permeated the room, partygoers were happiest, with joy increasing up to 24 percentage points.
  • It’s Ready: Taking pizza out of the oven also had significant impact on the moods of partygoers, with an increase in joy up to 20 percentage points.
  • Serving up Slices: When hosts cut the pizza, partygoers experienced up to an 11 percentage point increase in joy.
  • Eating Pizza: As partygoers took their first bite and began eating pizza, increase in joy went up to 11 percentage points.

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