Experiments in Instant Gratification

Sad gingerbread man cookie.

You know that experiment where they tell a child, “You can have one marshmallow now, or two later”? Most of the kids choose the one marshmallow now, showing “just how stupid most children are,” in scientific terminology.

Under the direction of Big Science, the experiment is now being conducted in performance venues such as theatres and arenas, where people are given the option of spending, say, £3 now on one fizzy drink, or spending the same amount at the supermarket later and getting 3 times as much to guzzle. Similarly, they can spend £5 on one bag of popcorn, or spend the same amount and get about 10 packs of microwave popcorn at the grocery store.

At sporting events, such as football and cricket games, a man, woman, or child can buy one measly bag of peanuts for £5 or spend the same amount and get a bag several times larger at the grocery store, or even a can of shelled peanuts with 2 or 3 times as much actual food inside. Some venues even sell nut-free peanuts for those with allergies, which cost twice as much and have absolutely no nutritional value. A beer for £8 at the big game would cost a fraction at the liquor store.

In fact, this experiment has been going on for decades. The data are still coming in, but to some, the results so far are astonishing. Others find them blatantly obvious. Apparently, it’s not just children. Adults are also really stupid.1

  1. Astronomical numerical cost of food items at performance and sporting venues and the human psyche, Journal of Big Science, Volume XIV, pp. 42-124.

Add a Comment Here (This Means You!):

Your email is safe and will not be published, shared, sold, bought, or used to order doughnuts. Required fields are marked *

Note that, in an effort to prevent comment spam and manipulation by computational bacteria, certain words (including a number of brand names) will prevent your comment from being submitted.