In the mating game, you are what you put in your trolley

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People loading fishfingers into their shopping trolley are boring in bed, while those who pick up cocktail cherries are shallow and pretentious, according to a survey. The latest way to size up potential partners is by trolley-watching, with up to 11 per cent of single under 25-year-olds judging possible lovers by what they pick off the shelves.

Nearly 500 people were questioned by David Lewis, a psychologist, on behalf of the supermarket chain Somerfield. The survey found 71 per cent of those questioned, including 8 per cent more men than women, believed that shopping trolleys offered a glimpse of a lover's personality. Dr Lewis said it was the latest example of "love coding".

"As society becomes more sophisticated and we lost some of our natural powers of recognition, such as smell, different ways of communicating are bound to develop. This is just another signalling method."

The survey found 71 per cent of those questioned, including 8 per cent more men than women, believed shopping trolleys offered a window to the soul. Dr Lewis said "love-coding" really took off in the USA but said it was not entirely new to the UK. "During the last war, lonely service wives would sometimes put an Omo box in their front window. "This meant either `On My Own' or `Old Man Overseas' - an open invitation to passing males. When people go to parties they are on their guard, trying to deliver a positive image of themselves.

"But in a supermarket, your trolley speaks volumes about your true personality - and never lies.

To help shoppers give off the right vibes in their quest for love, the report claims the following foods send out particular signals:

Tropical fruits -- "I am exotic and passionate"

Percolated coffee - "I am decisive and like to be in control"

Bananas - "Life is hectic but I love it"

Cocktail cherries - "I am rather shallow and pretentious"

Pasta - "I am passionate and love romantic suppers for two"

Cookery books - "I am domesticated and want to look after someone"

Brussels sprouts - "I am down-to- earth and enjoy a stable lifestyle"

Chocolate fudge cake - "Let's have a wild time doing whatever pleases us"

Asparagus - "I am a sensual lover who loves exotic holidays"

Fish fingers - "I'm unadventurous between the sheets"

Tinned soup - "Too many nights alone; tendency to be a bore"

Stir-fry vegetables - "I love to experiment".

A total of 454 people were interviewed for the survey in Yorkshire, Sheffield, Bristol, Chelmsford, Lincolnshire, Norfolk, Torquay and Cheshire.

Meanwhile, shoppers had the bargain buy of a lifetime when a power cut plunged a supermarket into darkness. They were allowed to walk out of the Waitrose store at Stroud, Glos, by paying 50p an item for the goods in their baskets and trolleys. One man paid pounds 2 for four 1-litre bottles of vodka. The manager,Gillian Gillmore, said: "We certainly weren't selling many tins of baked beans." The super-sale started when the power cut plunged the store into darkness for 35 minutes and brought the computerised tills to a halt. "To make matters worse, our emergency generator failed to take over," said Mrs Gillmore.

"Our concern was to get everyone safely out of the dark. We had to do something quickly, so we decided to make a nominal charge of 50p an item."