There is this observation/theory that during flights, people really like to drink much more tomato juice than while on the ground.

"A small study" (as Wikipedia calls it) from 2015 tries to analyse this alleged phenomenon:

This result was, however, more attributed to pressure change than to sound condition. More recently Spence, Michel, and Smith (2014) suggested that perhaps it may be the interaction of cabin noise and umami taste transduction that is responsible for the demand for umami-rich tomato juice in airline cabins.

— Kimberly S. Yan and Robin Dando: "A Crossmodal Role for Audition in Taste Perception", Observation of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance 2015, Vol. 41. No. 3, 590-596. (link)

But when was this alleged phenomenon was first noticed?

It was noticed many times before that referenced analysis started, and analysed multiple times previously. This went back about 40 years in my research.

This "small study", however, references a much earlier study, trying to explain the 'thing':

— Pettit, L. A. (1958). The influence of test location and accompanying sound in flavor preference testing of tomato juice. Food Technology, 12, 55-57.

Limiting subsequent search results to 'before that' produced no meaningful results.

Disregarding any effect, real or not, about tomato juice taste or preference effects while in-flight:

When was it first noticed/claimed that inflight tomato-juice consumption was significantly higher than otherwise?

While it will be most interesting to know the first mention of real-world statistics, acknowledging an increased consumption across the board. It would be even more interesting to correlate that with early testimonials from passengers reporting this alleged effect.

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    I flew regularly in 70's, 80's and 90's , and don't remember being offered tomato juice or seeing another passenger drinking it. Commented Dec 8, 2020 at 21:16
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    Here's a very old testimonial: earchives.lib.purdue.edu/digital/collection/epurdue/id/491 Amelia Earhart drank tomato juice!
    – Juhasz
    Commented Dec 8, 2020 at 22:33
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    Counterquestion. Where, outside an airplane, is "tomato juice" offered with any prominence? This might be supply triggering demand, curiosity etc...
    – DevSolar
    Commented Dec 9, 2020 at 15:30
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    @DevSolar Tomato juice was offered at all kinds of banquets when I was a kid (1960s, 1970s); I remember toasting at weddings with it before I was able to toast with alcohol.
    – bgwiehle
    Commented Dec 10, 2020 at 12:11
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    @SamuelRussell That's certainly an option. From 1917 to 1930s a growing popularity in temperate & 'healthy' circles, then first canned products (& again 'Bloddy Mary'). But it's certainly no longer confined to US culture now. One of the more popular results in searching this is that German Lufthansa a few years ago wondered why they stock almost as much juice as beer?! ;) Commented Dec 10, 2020 at 18:08

1 Answer 1


To figure out when the tomato juice phenomenon started, it is probably useful to check when tomato juice had started to be offered at all.


In August 1933, at the initiative of our colleague Christian DOMBREVANNE, at the time Principal Director of the Aeronautics Division of the KLEBER-COLOMBES Company, a trip to the USA was organized in which many personalities from the Aeronautical Industry participated, including Paul SCHNEIDER - father of the Duchess of Bedford.

At that time, the prohibition of alcoholic beverages was at its peak and these "travelers" had to resign themselves to drinking tomato juice during numerous receptions offered by American manufacturers.

At the time, people who could afford flying were wealthy. Rich people usually went for alcoholic drinks at the time. Since this wasn't an option, tomato juice (invented in 1917, in the US) was an acceptable alternative since it was considered "exotic".

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    want to upvote, but the quote isn't cited; can you cite your source?
    – MCW
    Commented Sep 17, 2021 at 12:42
  • Sorry! This is the source: archive.wikiwix.com/cache/… It is in French but the google translation is doing a good job! Commented Sep 18, 2021 at 5:31

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