Kitchen Confessions: People Reveal the Little White Lies From Their Dinner Parties

Julia Pelly
Written by Julia Pelly
Updated September 26, 2022
Illustration of a person with their finger to their mouth to keep secret all the kitchen lies represented as icons
Image: comicstocks / iStock / Getty Images Plus / Getty Images

More people than you think are lying in the kitchen

We all know that honesty is important. But who among us hasn’t told a little white lie in the kitchen? As it turns out, not many of us. We were curious about how honest people are in the kitchen, so we looked at survey results from 2,000 people across the U.S. about what lies they’ve told both as a cook and a guest.

How common is not washing your hands before cooking? Are men more likely than women to snag an appetizer off the platter with unwashed hands? And which states are the most prone to the most dining no-nos? Here’s what we found out about kitchen honesty across the U.S.:

  • 67% of respondents don’t always wash their hands before cooking.

  • 25% would serve food that has been dropped on the floor as long as no one saw it happen.

  • 16% have claimed they made a store-bought item from scratch.

  • 5% have lied about whether the food they’re serving is vegetarian or gluten-free.

  • North Dakotans tell the fewest kitchen-related lies while Vermonters tell the most.

Where are Hosts and Diners Least Honest?

Infographic showing the average amount of lies people tell in their kitchen by state, with the average being 6.8.
Image: epic_fail / iStock / Getty Images Plus / Getty images

To find out where people are the most honest about their kitchen behavior, we presented survey takers across the U.S. with a list of cooking and dining-related lies and asked them which ones they’d committed. 

Residents of North Dakota admitted to the fewest number of lies at just 4.5. Other honest states include Maine (5.2 fibs per person), Tennessee (6 fibs per person), Iowa (6.1 fibs per person), and West Virginia (6.2 fibs per person).

Vermont claims the dubious honor of the least-honest state, with respondents reporting an average of nearly nine fibs per person. Delaware, Montana, South Dakota, and Wyoming round out of the rest of the bottom five.

Keeping It Clean

Infographic showing 9 lies hosts tell to their guests, including 67% of respondents saying they do not wash their hands before cooking

If you’re heading to a friend's house for dinner, you might have a germier experience than you had hoped. Many hosts don’t disinfect their homes before guests arrive, and over half don’t even worry about disinfecting their hands. A total of 67% of people report they don’t always wash their hands before cooking, with slightly more men, 67%, than women, 66%, reporting that they feel soaping up before cooking just isn't necessary.

While they may be more likely to wash their hands, more women than men feel like it’s totally fine to eat (and even serve) food that’s been dropped on the floor. In fact, 42% of women believe in the five-second rule, while only 37% of men report feeling like it’s okay to eat dropped food as long as it’s picked up quickly. 

Eating food off the floor is one thing, but how about serving it? Well, 26% of women would serve food that they dropped (as long as no one saw it), while 24% of men report they would do the same. We’re guessing that many of these hosts aren't following the best tips to get their floors clean, so guests beware.

Deceptive Diners

Now that we know that sharing a meal at someone else's home might not be as clean as we’d hope, and that many hosts probably aren't following a kitchen cleaning checklist, let's look at all the bad habits dinner guests admit to having.

Infographic showing 9 lies guests tell to their hosts, including 50% of respondents saying they have secretly hidden unwanted food in a napkin.

A majority of the people (90% of men and 93% of women) report that they’ve taken food off a shared plate with their fingers. If that makes you shake your head, you’ll be disappointed to learn that 81% of men and 82% of women have double dipped when eating shared food. 

You’d probably be even more shocked to learn that 14% of men and 12% of women have taken a bite from a shared food plate…and then put it back. This germ-swapping behavior isn't limited to what’s served on a plate—35% of men and 34% of women have secretly taken a drink from someone else’s glass. 

Sharing germs isn't the only bad habit dinner guests admit to: 37% of men and 38% of women have secretly fed unwanted food to a dog, while 47% of men and 45% of women admit to hiding unwanted food in a napkin.

Little White Lies

While dinner hosts and guests each have some bad habits, some little white lies probably don’t do much harm. 

For hosts, most harmless little white lies have to do with exactly where the food (or recipe) comes from. For example, 15% of women and 18% of men have claimed that something was made from scratch when they really bought it at the store, and 14% of women and 18% of men admit to claiming credit for someone else’s recipe. Dinner guests seem to focus their harmless lies on politeness—70% of men and 79% of women have lied about loving the food they’re served, even when they don't. 

The next time you’re prepping for a party, keep your guests’ best interests in mind (hello, hand washing). And after your next meal at a coworker’s house, be sure to show genuine gratitude for their excellent cooking—and don’t feed the dog your leftovers.


In 2016, we surveyed 2,000 people throughout the U.S. about the white lies they’ve told as a host/cook and as a guest.