Older Generations are the Jolliest in the UK

Have a go at this brainteaser! Can you find the Popcorn that isn’t smiling? Answer at the bottom of the page

According to a new study, Brits over the age of 55 typically smile 6,424 times a year (18 times per day), which works out as a staggering 1,095 times more than millennials (15 times per day).

The research shows that as well as smiling more as we get older, we are less concerned with pretending to be happy.

While the average Briton admits to faking a smile three times a day, 18 to 34-year olds will do it five times. In contrast, those older than 55 do so no more than twice a day.

Commissioned by Metcalfe’s® to celebrate the popular snack brand’s new charity partnership with Spread a Smile, the research revealed the things most likely to brighten our day, which include hearing a song we like, someone making us a cup of tea and finding something we were going to buy has been reduced in price.

In contrast, things which make us frown include hearing politicians on the TV or radio, middle lane hogs, the sound of our alarm clock and opening our work inbox.


According to the research, the average Brit smiles a fantastic 16 times a day, with engineers apparently the cheeriest, smiling 21 times, and farmworkers beaming the least, at just eight times a day.

Hairdressers, market traders and postmen are considered among Britain’s most cheerful workers, while we’d most like to see traffic wardens break into a smile.

The study suggests the Welsh are the jolliest people in the UK, with people in Cardiff breaking into a grin 19 times a day, while those across the Severn in Bristol muster a smile 14 times.

Sarah Henden, Brand Manager at Metcalfe’s®, said: “It’s particularly uplifting to see that as social pressures fade and we become more contented with life, we tend to smile even more the older we get.”

The research found that chocolate is the food most likely to cheer us up. Nearly half (45 per cent) say it brings a smile to their face and pizza, curry and pasta are also meals likely to cheer us up.

“At Metcalfe’s® we’ve been looking at the science behind a smile to help us really understand its importance. A smile elevates your mood and creates a sense of wellbeing. Smiling releases dopamine, endorphins and serotonin which are our key ‘feel good’ hormones. A smile may be seemingly simple but it has significant physical benefits to the body and mind – even if it’s forced”, Sarah continued.

“This is exactly why Metcalfe’s® has partnered with Spread a Smile – a charity that brightens the days of seriously ill children and teenagers in hospital with joyful entertainment.”

The top 20 things which make us smile: 

  1. Hearing a song we like
  2. Our partner
  3. Our cat/dog
  4. Food
  5. Putting a TV show on which we like
  6. Someone telling us a joke
  7. Our children
  8. Watching a film
  9. Finding something we want to buy has been reduced in price
  10. Our best friend
  11. Someone making us a cup of tea
  12. Alcohol 
  13. Coffee
  14. Work colleagues
  15. Exercise or going to the gym
  16. Watching or talking about sport
  17. Other family members
  18. Our parents
  19. Nothing when we’re grumpy
  20. Getting a “like” or “share” for a social media post

The top 20 things which make us frown: 

  1. Health concerns
  2. Seeing our bank balance 
  3. Listening to politicians on TV/radio           
  4. People playing on their phone while we’re talking to them             
  5. Seeing litter        
  6. Looking out of the window and seeing it’s raining              
  7. People coughing or sneezing near us on public transport 
  8. People driving in the middle lane when not overtaking     
  9. Feeling hungry   
  10. Dealing with family         
  11. The sound of our alarm clock      
  12. Realising no one else has emptied the bin             
  13. Leaving the house and realising it’s cold  
  14. Opening our work inbox
  15. Realising we don’t have a pound coin for a supermarket shopping trolley   
  16. Finding someone else’s washing up in the sink     
  17. Running out of milk         
  18. Realising our children haven’t been listening because they’re watching TV or are on their phone/tablet              
  19. Seeing our boss 
  20. Our commutes to work