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In my friend group it is "common knowledge" that pregnant women eat pickles a lot and we sometimes joke that we saw someone's girlfriend eating pickles with the implied consequence that they will soon become a parent. According to information quoted by Google (do pregnant women crave pickles?),

One of the most famous pregnancy cravings is for pickles.

Is this true? Does it hold particularly for pickles? Or is there perhaps only evidence that pregnant women prefer salty (in general) food slightly more often? Has it been researched if multiple of its constituents such as "salty" and "sour" are preferred more in often in combination during pregnancy or has it even been researched with pickles in particular?

Here are some more links to show that many people believe this.

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    With the updated links I think this is a perfectly fine questions, those website all claim it, but they all seem pretty shady to me. Worth doubting.
    – pipe
    Dec 1 '21 at 23:18
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    "Pickles and ice cream" is a pretty well-known trope in television, particularly used for comedic effect throughout the 70s and 80s. I'm surprised there's any question to its notability as a claim.
    – Michael W.
    Dec 1 '21 at 23:33
  • I think there is a huge cultural bias in the question. In France, we've never heard about craving pickles. Here, the cliché food during pregnancy is strawberries
    – Aserre
    Dec 2 '21 at 15:37
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    @Aserre Your comment has me wondering that perhaps these reported cravings are more memetic than biological. Women hear they will crave X, and thus believe it, and then even eventually feel it by way of constant suggestion.
    – fredsbend
    Dec 2 '21 at 16:58
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    As for notability, I think it's there plenty, and no close votes, so I've deleted those comments.
    – fredsbend
    Dec 2 '21 at 16:59
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There is some level of cravings for pickles reported amongst the range of dietary cravings experienced during pregnancy, but they are not nearly the most common form of such cravings. Craving sweet foods of various sorts, and ice cream specifically, is far more common.

A study by Hook E. B. (1978). Dietary cravings and aversions during pregnancy. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 31 1355–136 assessed, by survey, the characteristics of food cravings during pregnancy. In their sample of 250 US women, 10 (4%), reported cravings specifically for pickles. This is lower than the rates for various types of sweet foods, especially ice cream where 60 (more than 20%) of respondents reported this craving, and 39 (about 16%) reported cravings for chocolate. See table 5 in the paper linked above.

The authors also mention the widespread belief in cravings for pickles (or olives)

Cravings during pregnancy that are frequently mentioned in the anecdotal literatures are for pickles and olives. In this study cravings for these items were reported more often than aversions (10 to 2, and 4 to 0, respectively) but the reasons for this remain unclear

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    Pickles are notoriously salty. Are they really just craving salt?
    – fredsbend
    Dec 2 '21 at 16:25
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    I'm also struggling with the word "craving", wrt chocolate or other sweets. If a pregnant woman says to me "my pregnancy is making me crave chocolate" I interpret that as excuse making for bad dietary habits. But I'm a bit cynical. It would be nice to see particular women's reported cravings evaluated pre, during, and post pregnancy.
    – fredsbend
    Dec 2 '21 at 16:31
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    @fredsbend better as a comment: more people reported craving the specific category of pickles than the more generic category of "salty snack foods" (10 for pickles, 6 for salty snacks). To me, that so many people craved pickles in particular indicates something.
    – Dave
    Dec 2 '21 at 16:33
  • @fredsbend this paper doesn't seem to do a good job of food-type-breakdown, but does discuss non-pregnancy related cravings ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4172095/#B66
    – Dave
    Dec 2 '21 at 16:34
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    I find it really hard to put "craving pickles" and "craving chocolate" on the same basket. At least to me, a true "pregnancy craving" is somewhat of a strange item on that person usual diet. My own mother had cravings for pears - a fruit she never liked before - to the point of eating only pears on some days. That is a craving, not... "I felt like eating chocolate a bit more frequently than usual".
    – T. Sar
    Dec 2 '21 at 19:21

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