When I was a kid, it seemed like the universal signifier for pregnancy in movies and TV was a craving for pickles and ice cream, although, to be sure, certain movie heroines had cravings that were a little more baroque. Now the typical signifier is buying multiple pregnancy tests that all say the same thing, no matter how many times you pee on the stick. But I digress …

Based on this you might think that cravings have gone out of style. But quite the contrary. According to the BBC News, pregnancy cravings are much more common these days than in generations past.

Three-quarters of those surveyed experienced a craving, compared to only 30 percent 50 years ago. (Of course, not mentioned in the piece is the tricky way language tends to morph, so what one generation thinks of as an unquenchable craving for avocado sushi or Taco Bell bean burritos, another generation might look at as a mere whim.)

The top craved foods, according to the survey, included chocolate, ice cream, sweets, spicy food, pickled onions, tropical fruit, curry, doughnuts, Marmite, peanut butter, potatoes, and nuts, along with bizarre combos like fried eggs and mint sauce or Marmite and ice cream (it’s Great Britain, dontcha see?).

And then there are the nonfood cravings: coal, ice, laundry soap, matches (!), chalk, sponges (!!). Called pica, these cravings were once thought to arise because of nutritional deficiencies, but instead are craved probably because of their smell, texture, or taste.

I know I always appreciate the texture of a nice, crunchy lump of coal.

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