Why do so many people order tomato juice when they're flying?
June 22, 2006 6:00 PM   Subscribe

Every time I fly I notice that people order an inordinate amount of tomato juice from the sky waitress. It's out of proportion to the amount of tomato juice I see people drinking on the ground. What gives?
posted by mikemonteiro to Travel & Transportation (41 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Good question, maybe availability?
posted by JakeLL at 6:02 PM on June 22, 2006

It's not a drink that I typically drink with meals, but it does go well with salty snacks like peanuts and pretzels.
posted by blue mustard at 6:04 PM on June 22, 2006

I often order it in the sky and not on the ground. I think it is because of the alternatives. Soda is not viable for me, apple juice has too much sugar and orange juice in the sky is usually from concentrate and watered down.

Tomato juice or bloody mary mix are pretty consistent and not the alternatives. I do think you are right that statistically the amount ordered is an anomoly.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 6:04 PM on June 22, 2006

It's a meal in a can. There's not much ordered in FC, where the good stuff is free too (and the food is passable).
posted by kcm at 6:08 PM on June 22, 2006

I only drink tomato juice in flight and at airport lounges, but nowhere else. Sometimes I mix it half and half with OJ, and add a shot of tabasco. Ditto with "drinking dry" ginger ale or bitter lemon - these seem to be flying-only drinks for me. Why do I crave "savoury" drinks? Why do they hand out savoury snacks like nuts, rather than sweet snacks like jelly beans? I think you've stumbled on a deep mystery.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 6:11 PM on June 22, 2006 [1 favorite]

Salty snacks encourage you to drink water and hydrate, which is more necessary at altitude with the dry air in the cabin.
posted by kcm at 6:21 PM on June 22, 2006

Cheap bastards? At the grocery store tomato juice is like 4 times the price of soda or beer. I wish they would serve clam juice on flights.
posted by MonkeySaltedNuts at 6:25 PM on June 22, 2006

It is to mix with the vodka in my flask. I assumed that is what everyone was doing.
posted by LarryC at 6:35 PM on June 22, 2006 [2 favorites]

I order bloody mary mix because, as the flight attendant approaches taking drink orders, I overhear people near me ordering it and that instills a powerful craving. By now it's probably conditioned behavior -- I don't think I've had a tomato beverage on the ground more than twice in the last ten years, but flying feels weird without it.

Also airplanes are loud, cramped, dry, and generally abusive to the body, and tomato juice tastes restorative to me.
posted by Eater at 6:40 PM on June 22, 2006

I order it with vodka and make my own quasi-bloody-mary. The bloody mary mix has high fructose corn syrup in it.
posted by bingo at 6:58 PM on June 22, 2006

A lot of people don't like pop because it's sweet, and these are often people who might have a beer instead. Somehow the idea of paying for a beer on the plane seems like a rip off (even though you'd pay for it on the ground), so tomato-juice is the next best non-sweet drink.
posted by randomstriker at 7:04 PM on June 22, 2006

Another reason for ordering it is they never seem to have freaking V8 on the damn planes that I take.
posted by bigmusic at 7:07 PM on June 22, 2006

I've noticed this too! My last flight I got all excited that they were serving booze only to find out that everyone just wanted bloody mary mix.

My guess would be the quality control of it like Johhny Gunn suggested.
posted by nadawi at 7:16 PM on June 22, 2006

I order it because I love tomato juice, but rarely think to buy any when I'm at the grocery store. So I guess it boils down to availability.
posted by dweingart at 7:17 PM on June 22, 2006

Could it be that you have to buy 6 at the grocery store, but you never really want more than one at a time (unless it's a red beer)...
posted by hatsix at 7:34 PM on June 22, 2006

I think it is just association -- I almost always order tomato juice, or wish that I had. It's a meal in a can, as mentioned, and I agree that you hear other people order it and remember it. There aren't usually choices like plain iced tea, which I drink when not on a plane.

Mmmm, tomato juice. I am going to see if there's any vodka left.
posted by theredpen at 7:53 PM on June 22, 2006

Ditto dweingart.
posted by saladin at 7:58 PM on June 22, 2006

I also habitually order tomato juice or bloody mary mix on planes and practically nowhere else. One reason is that they'll usually give you only a cup of OJ or apple juice, while they'll often hand you the whole can of tomato. Another is that the salt seems to make me less likely to have to get up to go to the restroom. It definitely goes better with pretzels than soda does. And it coats the ice cubes really well, which makes crunching them after finishing the drink much more satisfying. (They don't feed me nearly enough on planes, especially these days.)

I discovered it when I was on a V8 kick. The plane didn't have that but the stewardess suggested bloody mary mix instead. I've fallen out of the V8 habit, but I still order tomato juice on planes.

Like obiwanwasabi, I also tend to order ginger ale on flights, but not much on the ground. I have no idea why.
posted by aneel at 8:10 PM on June 22, 2006

I always used to wonder why people did this, and then one day I gave it a shot. Now I'm one of those crazy tomato juice guys. And I never drink it when I'm not flying. I don't even drink Bloody Marys. I have this perception that tomato juice keeps me more hydrated than water. Water seems to... uh... flow right through... whereas tomato juice has a much longer hangtime.
posted by hammurderer at 8:12 PM on June 22, 2006

I've noticed the same phenomenon, except with Ginger Ale. I've always sort of attributed it to the fact that I don't usually consider buying it at the store, but when presented with the choice, it sounds pretty good. Unconventional.

I guess it could be the stomach-soothing effect of Ginger Ale, which is the exact opposite of the way Tomato Juice makes me feel.
posted by hoborg at 8:14 PM on June 22, 2006

I ordered it last time I flew, and the steward was keen to point out that it hydrates you almost as well as water, but without making you pee as much as drinking water does. That would seem convenient for flying, since the toilet is always occupied. No idea if its true though!
posted by Joh at 8:18 PM on June 22, 2006

Hahah, this is hilarious. I didn't realize it was so common. I love me some Clamato on Air Canada flights, you Americans lose.
posted by Big Fat Tycoon at 8:26 PM on June 22, 2006

Wow, I thought it was just me. I always drink tomato juice on planes, but never on the ground. I had no idea it was so common, likewise, I have no idea why I only order it in the air.
posted by necessitas at 8:29 PM on June 22, 2006

I get it in flight because it's "complimentary" whereas on the ground it's $4 a glass. Plus, on the ground I like beer, where in flight it's usually not free.

I just love tomato juice and take advantage where I see fit. Like necessitas I thought it was just me. I didn't realize so many others ordered it in the air as well.
posted by aclevername at 8:43 PM on June 22, 2006

is clam juice, like, the juice from a clam? that sounds totally gross :)
posted by joeblough at 8:56 PM on June 22, 2006

i don't think i'd ever finish a six pack if i purchased them for home. i never thought of it, but yeah, it's like "food" to me as well.
posted by elle.jeezy at 9:32 PM on June 22, 2006

I have noticed the same thing, mostly from older people. I always figured they were just having a virgin bloody mary.

I did find this article about this exact question that goes into some of the history of ginger ale/tomato juice on airplanes.
posted by sciatica at 10:50 PM on June 22, 2006 [1 favorite]

is clam juice, like, the juice from a clam?

clam juice $2.45 for 8oz. Clamato $4.39 for 33 oz. So obviously the pure stuff is more valuable that that stretched out with tomato juice.

(the above prices don't include the real profit Amazon makes from shiping)
posted by MonkeySaltedNuts at 10:50 PM on June 22, 2006

I overheard someone order bloody mary mix on one flight, and I immediately thought "wow! that's a great idea!", and now I order it every time they ask. Good question. :)
posted by sdis at 11:01 PM on June 22, 2006

What's the difference between TJ and Bloody Mary mix?
posted by A189Nut at 11:06 PM on June 22, 2006

So you actually drink clam juice or is it more as an additive to soups, etc?

It seems to me that it would be like drinking fish sauce (tasty as it is thai food) and be close to unbearable. My stomach heaves at the thought.
posted by ClanvidHorse at 1:54 AM on June 23, 2006

I also order the bloody mary mix every time. It seems to be the most delicious and nutricious item you can order, especially on flights with no meal. This turns out to not exactly be true.

I looked up some values from fitday.com for comparison. These are for 8oz of fluid.

ginger ale: 83 cal, 21g carbs
cola: 102 cal, 26g carbs
apple juice: 117 cal, 29g carbs
orange juice: 105 cal, 25g carbs
tomato juice cocktail: 46 cal, 11g carbs

TJC was also the only drink of the five with significant values for the following additional categories:
656mg sodium (27% of RDA!)
57% vit a
112% vit c
13% folate
24% copper
17% vit b6

"Tomato Juice Cocktail" appears to be V8. Click this page and then click the red "Show Nutritional Information" box on the lower left.

Straight tomato juice had similar values, though just slightly less in all categories. So, unless you are watching your sodium, the cocktail or straight tomato juice seems like the way to go.

I couldn't find Blood Mary Mix at fitday.com, but googling it shows less exciting results. E.g., this page for Tabasco brand mix indicates no serious vitamins, but at least confirms the lower cals and sugars. This brand has similar results (note 4oz serving).
posted by about_time at 3:24 AM on June 23, 2006

Tomatoes are believed to prevent airline passengers from developing DVT. A quarter pint of tomato juice provides adequate protection against clots, apparently.
posted by boosh at 4:19 AM on June 23, 2006

I swear this scenario just happened to me a month ago. I was all set to order ginger ale, but someone else said tomato juice, and it sounded so good I had to do the same!
posted by toastchee at 7:32 AM on June 23, 2006

Tomato juice is one of those things that I don't really like but I feel like I should like it... so I try it in situations where it's free or where you aren't committing to a lot of it. I can enjoy a few sips of tomato juice, but not a lot. The tiny airplane cups are usually just enough for me to enjoy, then realize why I don't like it, then be finished.
posted by srah at 7:48 AM on June 23, 2006

I noticed that I would usually get a full can of tomato juice, but only the small cup of anything else on a flight. Don't know if it was just a coincidence or not, but it has kept me ordering the tomato juice in air.
posted by vagabond at 7:50 AM on June 23, 2006

I pretty much only drink tomato juice on flights--mostly because I generally take long flights and have little food, so the tomato juice just seems like a sensible choice. Now it's engrained and I always drink it. I get exta happy if the steward gives me a full can instead of just a glass. Wee!
posted by stray at 10:46 AM on June 23, 2006

I get bloody marys on all my flights. I do it because I actually _don't_ like plain tomato juice and vodka very much at all, and it keeps me from downing my tiny drink in like, a minute, and having to wait an hour for another one.
posted by [@I][:+:][@I] at 10:51 AM on June 23, 2006

On a flight I took on Lithuanian Airlines about three-quarters of the passengers ordered tomato juice. I thought it was just a Lithuanian thing, but obviously not...
posted by randomination at 3:14 PM on June 23, 2006

This is the greatest thread of all time. I am a tomato-juice person, and my fiance is sitting here yelling, "But what about ginger ale?"

Neither of us has an explanation.
posted by nev at 6:30 PM on June 23, 2006

More filling than pop, and no post-sugar crash. Meals are rarely provided on planes.
posted by craniac at 9:29 AM on June 26, 2006

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