Tofu is prized by vegetarians as an alternate source of protein, if they don't mind highly processed food that will make men sterile.

But Dr. Oz, the Cornell Food and Brand Lab and others swear by it. Yet Tofu is not a food fad for Millennial women because of any marketing claims about health benefits, they just want dishes that are quick, easy to cook and that don't have calories. 

"They basically seem to care less about any health benefits of Tofu," said lead Cornell researcher Brian Wansink, "They eat it to look good and because it's quick to cook and it's filling."

The results from 502 Millennial women, ages 20-35, came as a surprise to the Cornell scholars because efforts to encourage Tofu have focused on ethics and sustainability – it is promoted primarily as a cheap, sustainable protein source for people who choose not to eat meat. 

In a world filled with lots of competing hype about health in all forms of media, it may be just noise to younger people. "Millennials are much more likely to eat Tofu if you simply tell them 'It cooks like chicken, but doesn't spoil,' than if you lecture them about its nutritional value," said Wansink.

And tell them it's cheap. They found that many people think it is more expensive than meat. It's just soaked soybeans mashed into a paste and shaped into a block. Anyone can cook that. When health benefits were explained to the young women, there was only a 12% increase in the likelihood of purchase but noting its cheap cost and having them read the phrase “Cooks Like Chicken” made non-users almost 50% more likely to say they would try it.

What's the take away? Dr. Brian Wansink says, "If you're trying to convince a friend or family member to join you in becoming a Tofu lover, don't belabor its health benefits; instead focus on it being quick and filling and cooking like chicken. In no time they'll be making Tofu Scramble, Stir Fry and all the other dishes the Tofu lovers in the study listed as big parts of their diets."

The recent survey will be discussed at Tops Club Inc.'s annual International Recognition Days convention today in Milwaukee. 

Citation: Brian Wansink, Mitsuru Shimizu, and Adam Brumberg. (2014) Dispelling Myths about a New Healthful Food can be More Motivating than Promoting Nutritional Benefits: The Case of Tofu. Eating Behaviors, 15(2), 318-320. Source: Cornell Food&Brand Lab