Hot dogs in a salad? Survey uncovers bizarre salad combos across America

NEW YORK — Is a hot dog something that belongs in a salad? From marshmallows to meatballs — a new survey is revealing some of the strange ways Americans “jazz up” their greens each day.

The poll of 2,000 adults revealed plenty of strange ingredients many people add to an ordinary salad to give it more taste — including banana, peanut butter, peppermint, and popcorn! Aside from the occasional topping oddity, most people gravitate towards the classics for their salads. The most popular toppings were still cheese (42%), tomatoes (37%), bacon (30%), croutons (28%), and cucumbers (27%).

Also, the best salad dressings are Ranch (50%), Italian (30%), and Caesar (25%). However, for 61 percent, the real “main character” of their salad story are still the greens. The best of the pack were romaine (46%), iceberg (44%), spinach (32%), spring mix (30%), and crunchy green lettuce (26%).

Commissioned by BrightFarms and conducted by OnePoll in celebration of National Salad Month, the study also found salads are most enticing depending on their dressing (56%), quality of lettuce (42%), toppings (40%), and the harmony of different flavors (20%). Over half (57%) said the level of freshness was the biggest factor in how appetizing a salad is. In fact, 78 percent refuse to eat a salad when the vegetables turn soggy.

Over half (55%) admitted that when lettuce unexpectedly turns soggy, they go eat something less healthy instead. Four in five (82%) have had lettuce in their refrigerator go bad faster than they expected it to, and 61 percent of them have had to make an extra trip to the store as a result.

Sixty percent have even forgotten they have lettuce in the fridge, and it takes up to three days on average before they remember it’s still there. The average person has to toss out lettuce they were planning to use for a meal because it went bad at least twice per month.

Open bag of salad with lettuce on table
Six in 10 people have even forgotten they had lettuce in the fridge for up to 3 days. (© Noel –

“If it’s done correctly, a salad can be a perfect meal that combines satisfying flavors, textures, and beautiful colors,” says Jessica Soare, Senior Director of Marketing at BrightFarms, in a statement. “We can see here that people have an appreciation for the leafy greens. It’s important to have a strong base for your salad, allowing all the other pieces to come together in a harmonious and flavorful way. Otherwise, you’re left with something that just doesn’t feel right.”

Seventy-eight percent of respondents say they eat at least two salads per week, and the average person will eat salad leftovers for up to two days after making them. Over half (53%) would also consider pasta salad as a type of salad, though many did not agree with other common food arguments like this one. For instance, 55 percent do not consider hot dogs to be sandwiches, and just four percent prefer their pizza cold.

Over a quarter (26%) also believe they could turn any type of sandwich into a salad. However, many Americans would rather let the professionals make their salad for them. Forty-six percent said they’re more likely to eat salads while dining out, citing restaurants are more creative than what they make at home (43%), it tastes better when someone else prepares it (34%), and it takes too much time to prepare salads at home (26%).

Meanwhile, 48 percent said they still prefer to make their salads at home.

“Everyone deserves a fresh salad that makes them feel satisfied about their choices,” says Soare. “One that retains crispness, freshness, and delicious flavor. After all, anything can be a salad if you want it to be!”

Survey methodology:

This random double-opt-in survey of 2,000 general population Americans was commissioned by BrightFarms between Apr. 2 and Apr. 8, 2024. It was conducted by market research company OnePoll, whose team members are members of the Market Research Society and have corporate membership to the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) and the European Society for Opinion and Marketing Research (ESOMAR).