Why are “Apron Tuggers” the Newest Romance Trend?

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P.N. Hinton

Contributing Editor

Born into a family of readers, P.N. gained a love reading as a sort of herd mentality. This love of reading has remained a life long passion, resulting in an English Degree from The University of Houston in Houston, Texas. She normally reads three to four books at any given time, in the futile Sisyphean hope of whittling down her ever growing to be read pile of no specific genre.

If you are someone who keeps up with book trends, you’ve noticed that there has been a large increase in food-related romances. Sometimes, these overlap with reality competition shows, but food is a crucial part of the plot and, by extension, the characters. These types of book are fondly known as apron tuggers.

Now, trends are nothing new in romances by any stretch of the imagination. For a while, paranormal was the popular one. Then, we had billionaire romances, thanks to a certain monochromatic series. Vampires and other supernatural creatures have always been a source of fascination in the literary world, across multiple genres. And billionaires have always been around in romance; the title just changes based on the time period. That is one of the reasons that there are so many books with titles that include “duke,” “viscount,” and “earl,” among others.

That said, 2022 certainly seems to be the year of the foodie romance, from Love & Other Disasters by Anita Kelly to Ramón and Julieta by Alana Quintana Albertson and Chef’s Kiss by TJ Alexander. While I read a lot of romance and even write a newsletter about it, for me to notice a trend means it is really prevalent. Here’s my take on why this topic is so popular right now.

Food is a Love Language

Cooking is a love language. I will not accept arguments on this. The preparation and serving of food is an unspoken way of showing your love for someone. And this is across all types relationships. After all, you don’t not feed your child just because y’all had a fight. You may not talk to them, but you will call them to the table for dinner and place the food in front of them.

This is also true in adult romantic relationships. I’ve lost count of how many scenes I’ve seen in movies where a spouse, even if there was a huge fight before they parted in the morning, has left a plate warm for the other one when they’ve come home late. They may not be speaking to one another, but the care is still there and they still want to make sure that their partner is fed.

There’s a reason we say something is made with love. Even when upset, you still care and you still want to care for them. Cooking food and providing for them is one of the best ways to do this.

Food is Comforting

This goes hand in hand with food as a love language. People cook for others whenever someone is going through a quality of life change. This can be for celebratory or more somber reasons. Whatever the situation, preparing food for someone is a way to let another person know that you’re thinking about them during this season of their life. After all, if you can do nothing else for them, you can feed them.

Food being a comfort thing is so ingrained in our society that chicken noodle soup is the first thing people recommend if you’re feeling sick. I’m sure all of us have a default food we turn to whenever we need a pick-me-up. How many movies and novels have a person eating ice cream after some huge emotional upheaval? The answer is: a lot.

Food is Sensual

Think of all the movies out there that feature a love scene where someone feeds their partner, usually blindfolded. This is also something that is recommended for couples who are looking to reignite the fire between them. True, this act works better with some food rather than others; it’s probably sexier to feed your partner a strawberry rather than a hamburger. But still, it tracks.

Then you have your reported aphrodisiacs, which adds to this idea. Oysters, anyone? Sometimes, it’s the combination of foods that can lead to a very pleasant feeling. Just think of how the first people who combined chocolate and peanut butter felt. It had to be a mind-blowing experience.

The act of preparing food can be sensual as well, which is another reason it’s so common in romance novels. Even if it doesn’t always play out this way in real life, it is a fairly popular scene to put into romances. There are certain other…acts…that you have to be careful with sometimes, just as patience is needed in the kitchen. Especially if you want the desired results. It’s something that you don’t rush through and you take your time with it. Trust that the effort will be appreciated all around.

It also shouldn’t go unnoticed that these reasons are also what romance readers cite for loving romances in general. If I had a dollar for every time I’ve seen the thought float around that romances were comforting, I’d be a little less worried about my book buying budget. Sensuality is also huge in romance, even in off the pages ones. There, it’s all about the tease and being provocative without, if you’ll pardon the pun, rushing to the big climax.

And about it being a love language? Consider situations like this. I don’t know how anyone can look at that and not think that romance books can be crucial in a couple’s love language. Whether it’s going out of your way to help them keep a steady supply or just not making fun of them for reading them, it is awesome.

Regardless of the reasons they’ve earned their moment in the sun right now, as a fan of foodie romances, I hope that we see more out of this trend in the coming years.