D

octor, your barbecue is here.

Sales reps may have a longstanding reputation for dropping off pizzas in order to woo office staffs and win face time with physicians. But in reality, they are ordering more sandwiches, barbecue, and Mexican food these days, according to ezCater, an online site for ordering catered meals.

Of more than 8,000 meals ordered through the end of October by pharma reps working for the 50 largest drug makers, 36 percent were for American cuisine, which generally includes burgers and sandwiches.

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The next most popular type of food to be ordered was so-called Southern cuisine, which includes fried chicken and barbecue, ezCater said. These amounted to 16.4 percent of the orders. The firm maintains a database of people who place orders and also tracks details concerning their orders, including type of business and addresses.

Regardless of the cuisine, “food is still our weapon of choice,” said one pharma sales rep for a large drug maker, who asked not to be named. This rep explained that about $17 is spent, on average, per person, but the type of food varies depending upon local taste and demographics.

The average order placed by all pharma sales reps was approximately $250, according to ezCater.

As for pizza, the stereotypical office meal constituted just 7.6 percent of the orders, good enough for fourth place. Mexican food was third. Although some people may consider pizza to be a rather ubiquitous nationwide choice, the data suggests regional preferences are dictating selections, according to David Meiselman, the chief marketing officer at ezCater.

Pizza was the most popular food choice when looking at catered meals ordered by all industries. Besides pharma reps, these include financial services, high-tech, construction, law firms, and publishing and advertising firms, among others. Pizza constituted 16.4 percent of the orders, followed by 13.6 percent for American food.

Not surprisingly, 89 percent of the pharma reps order drinks. Iced tea is the overwhelming beverage of choice, showing up in 55 percent of the orders. Lemonade placed a distant second at 16 percent. And 58 percent of the pharma reps made sure to include desserts with their orders, although there was no specific information on what types of desserts were favored.

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