A nation divided: Enjoy mashed potato at Christmas? Then you’re probably northern…

6th Dec 2019

The nation is divided in its opinion on mashed potato at Christmas as stats reveal you’re much more likely to want mash on your Christmas dinner plate if you live in the North of Britain, compared to the South.

  • Clear North/ South divide in the nation’s opinion on mashed potato
  • Brussels demand a mature palette as younger generations snub the sprouts
  • Younger generations say ‘yes’ to Yorkshire puds
  • Roast potatoes top the list as nation’s must-have Christmas dinner element, followed by stuffing and carrots

Those living in the North East are most likely to choose mashed potato, with three quarters of residents picking it as part of their perfect plate - while only one in five people living in the South East would consider it a crucial part of their Christmas dinner. More than half of those asked in Scotland would say yes to mash (53%) and just under half of those in Wales (47%).

Looking to discover what the nation's preferred Christmas dinner plate comprises of, we commissioned an online YouGov survey of more than 1,800 members of the public who celebrate Christmas across England, Scotland and Wales.

Jackie Baker, communications manager at Branston said: “Admittedly, we were hoping to see spuds rank highly, but we were stunned to see such a north south divide on mash.”

“There is one thing the nation can agree on however, and that’s our love of roast potatoes. Regardless of age, gender or location the survey placed roast potatoes at the top of people’s dinner wish list this Christmas.”

The stats revealed that on the average dream Christmas dinner plate, 92% of people included roast potatoes. 94% opted for either roasts or mash and 40% were doubling up; choosing both options to create their perfect plate of festive food*.

Jackie continued: “It just wouldn’t be Christmas without potatoes – and they’re so versatile you can cook them however you want to satisfy all your Christmas guests.”

So, it’s no wonder that demand soars for spuds during the run-up to Christmas. Sales of fresh potatoes and ready-prepared roasties experience a massive increase at this time of year.

“Our Branston team works around the clock to meet the demand for extra spuds in the final weeks of December. Production ramps up by over 80% to make sure our customers have enough fresh potatoes**. And in our Prepared factory we produce an extra 115,000 packs of ready-to-roast potatoes through December.”

Maturing palettes 

As well as showing differences in opinion depending on your location the survey also showed clear differences in opinion depending on when you were born. Veering away from tradition, nearly three quarters of Gen Z, millennials and Gen X (18 to 44-year-olds) included Yorkshire puddings in their ideal Christmas dinner (72%), compared to just half (51%) of baby boomers (over 55s)*.

The survey also revealed that Brexit isn’t the only time Brussels is causing divided opinions between age groups.

“It looks like it really is true that you learn to love the taste of Brussels sprouts as you get older,” said Jackie.

“Less than half of 18 to 24-year-olds (48%) wanted Brussels sprouts on their ideal Christmas dinner. Meanwhile, for more than three quarters of over 55s (78%), Christmas isn’t complete without this traditional trimming.”

Make mine meat free 

Younger generations are also more likely to opt for meat free gravy compared to their mature counterpart. Almost one in four 18 to 24-year-olds picked meat free gravy (24%), whereas less than one in ten people (9%) aged 55+ chose veggie gravy – similarly just 9% of over 55s would choose a nut roast.

Jackie added: “There is no denying the huge debate about eating meat products and flexitarians, vegans, and vegetarians becoming more mainstream. This is known to be something that’s influencing younger generations and our stats back this up.”

From the options provided in the survey, 81% of 18 to 24-year-olds included a product containing meat*** – significantly lower than the national average, which is 89%.

The nation's favourite 

So what does the nation want on it’s Christmas dinner plate in 2019? Judging by the majority it’s a traditional turkey dinner with all the trimmings – but be sure to make extra roasties, as the stats show, (almost) everyone around the dining table will be demanding them for their dinner.

Whether you prefer mashed or roasted, we have some delicious potato recipes that are perfect for any Christmas dinner plate. 

Easy-peasy creamy mashed potato recipe

How to prepare the perfect roast potato

Vegetarian cheese, onion and potato pithivier recipe

*Results calculated using variables combined in Crunch

**Figures supplied by Branston Ltd

***Product options containing meat included meat gravy, pigs in blankets, beef, gammon/ham, lamb, chicken, goose, turkey

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 2109 adults of which 1805 celebrate Christmas. Fieldwork was undertaken between 11th - 12th November 2019.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).