Food by VICE

This Airport Is Serving Food with "Happy Hormones" to Passengers

If you thought some mini-bottles of whisky and a handful of crushed up Ambien were the key to activating your happy hormones, guess again.

by Alex Swerdloff
Aug 24 2015, 5:00pm

Products and promotions with the word "happy" in them rarely if ever end up being as unequivocally innocent and malice-free as they profess. Witness McDonald's meals for children—the ubiquitous Happy Meal—filled with empty calories and cheesy plastic toys that with choking hazards. Or Adam Sandler's production company, Happy Madison, the raconteurs behind such metaphysically inquisitive cinema gems as Click. Or pretty much all inspirational calendars ever.

Well, get ready to hang on to your beverage carts, because London's Gatwick Airport has just launched a new, month-long culinary initiative aimed at bettering the living nightmare that is air travel. Their weapon of choice? They want to activate your "happy hormones," of course.

READ: British Airport Pubs Are Most Alive Before Dawn

And just in case you thought some mini-bottles of whisky and a handful of crushed up Ambien were the key to activating your happy hormones, guess again.

The second-largest international airport in London is actually alluding to specialty meals rich in mood-enhancing nutrients—meals they would really like you to shove into your travel pillow-smothered head. To such end, Gatwick has teamed up with London-based nutritionist Jo Travers for a month-long experiment. Please placate yourself with these edible mood stabilizers while passing through their airport so they can worry about real problems, like terrorism and horrific weather events.

Travers is working to help the airport's restaurants design special dishes that have "mood-lifting ingredients." And don't worry—the sunglasses-wearing smiley emoji on the menus will help you find the Prozac-like food. (Could mood rings at the baggage check-in be next?)

"Happiness is a complex thing," Travers says, "but there are certain foods that will help the 'happy' chemicals in your brain to keep flowing."

So what does Travers think will make you forget the holiday drunks sitting next to you in the back of the Easy Jet headed for Cancun? No narcotics here: she told Daily Mail that the magic foods are salmon, tuna, bananas, oats, citrus fruit, kale, sesame seeds, green tea, chickpeas, soy, and soy products like miso. Cooperating restaurants—which include Garfunkels, Caviar House, and Yo Sushi, among others—agreed to emphasize these mood elevators in one or more offerings.

Travers says that her favored foods are filled with happy-hormone boosters. "Two key players are the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine, along with amino acids tryptophan and theanine, which can contribute to the creation of serotonin, known to most as 'happy hormones.'

After all, "Low levels of these chemicals can cause fatigue in addition to lowering existing levels of serotonin. Similarly, a deficiency of Omega 3 can lead to fatigue and mood swings."

So now, Lebanese chain Comptoir is offering a falafel and fattoush salad aimed at steadying blood sugar levels, while the Italian-American Frankie and Benny's is featuring a salmon citrus salad geared towards improved brain function.

READ: Marmite Was Confiscated in Airports So Often It Now Comes in Travel Size

If a little fattoush and salmon will do the trick, Gatwick is only too happy to promote them. Charlotte Christiansen, business development manager at the airport, said, 'Passenger experience and happiness is a top priority at Gatwick and we want to help travellers start their holidays early from the moment they step foot in Gatwick." The program will be in place through August on a trial basis.

Travers says her hope is that passengers will "arrive at their destinations happy." Who the hell needs a baggie of pills you found in Ibiza and some sage to burn when you have happy hormones?