Eat popcorn with chopsticks? Don’t tell mom

Burt's Eye View

Researchers at The Ohio State University offered advice last week on how to turn old and boring into exciting and new.

Get weird.

They worded it a bit more scholarly than that, but weird is what they meant.

For example, they suggest eating popcorn — a known and habitual hand food — with chopsticks.

“When you eat popcorn with chopsticks, you pay more attention and you are more immersed in the experience,” Robert Smith, co-author of the study and assistant professor of marketing at the OSU Fisher College of Business, said. “It’s like eating popcorn for the first time.”

The researchers — another name for practical jokers — subjected several groups of people to the same video three times. But they told one of the groups the third time around to watch with hand-goggles — form circles with their thumbs and index fingers around their eyes — and track the action by bobbing their heads back and forth.

The goggly-bobbly group enjoyed the third viewing more than any other group.

“They actually thought the video was better because the hand-goggles got them to pay more attention to what they were watching than they would have otherwise,” Smith said. “They were more immersed in the video.”

Ergo, hand-goggles help you focus. Tell that to my mom. When I used my hand-goggles in church when I was 8 years old, Mom yanked my arms down and told me to pay attention to the preacher.

According to researchers at one of the largest and most respected universities in the world, that’s exactly what I was doing — until she interrupted.

For their study, the big-shot researchers / pranksters told their victims to come up with “fresh, new and fun” ways to drink water. The people who guzzled from shipping envelopes or lapped like a cat enjoyed plain ol’ water more than those who drank it the conventional way, whatever that may be.

When I was a kid, the conventional way was to grab the jug out of the refrigerator, gulp until there was half a sip left, slide the jug back into the fridge and slam the door. If you didn’t empty it, you didn’t have to refill it.

Unconventional was when we got down on all fours next to the beagle and shared his water bowl.

We focused on innovative ways to eat peas — we’d throw them at each other and try to catch them in our mouths. It didn’t work so well slinging peanut butter and jelly sandwiches like Frisbees, but it did make things exciting and new.

Our moms got excited, too, but not in the same way.

Nor did our moms like the awesome way we discovered for getting dressed — a couple boys held up a pair of new school pants and the third 8-year-old jumped out the window and tried to stick the landing.

Our moms even protested our clever way of helping with housework — we harnessed the vacuum cleaner to each other, shouted giddy-up and careened through the living room

It was as if our moms intentionally meant to snuff out every bit of focus we mustered.

Smith concludes that, “It may be easier to make it feel new than you might think.”

Just don’t let your mother catch you.

— Tattle on Cole at burtseyeview@tribtoday.com, on the Burton W. Cole page on Facebook or @BurtonWCole on Twitter.