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The Science Behind Why the ‘Cheese Pull’ Makes You Hungry

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Cheese Pull
(Araya Diaz/Getty Images for Taco Bell)


Food advertisers have long known the power of the “cheese pull”—that moment in a pizza or fast-food commercial when long strands of cheese stretch the length of the television screen and make your mouth water. (Taco Bell spent an incredible two years perfecting its own pull.) As Ashley Rodriguez reports in Quartz:

“[The] cheese pull can ‘trigger deep-seated memories of food experiences’ to ‘signal an enjoyable experience in you,’ said Uma Karmarkar, an assistant professor of marketing at the Harvard Business School. ‘Food is what we call a primary reinforcer,’ she said. ‘We recognize the value of food items even when we can’t touch them or feel them in person.’ Those memories can actually set off a release of chemicals in the brain akin to those involved in drug addiction. As many of us know, pizza is an addictive food, so the cheese pull in an ad can easily set off a craving simply by showing you a gooey, steamy slice.”

Read her full piece on the phenomenon here. If you want to know why you’re addicted to cheese, read this recent study. Or to just torture yourself, try to keep track of all the cheese pulls in the ad below. Hungry?