Somewhere in Los Angeles' Studio City neighborhood, there exists a restaurant called Caioti Pizza Café that serves up one very special menu item: the famed "maternity salad."
Simply called "The Salad" on the restaurant's menu, the dish itself isn't all that revolutionary. In fact, made with romaine, watercress, walnuts, and gorgonzola, it's relatively standard café fare.
The salad dressing, however, is another story: For the past 28 years, past-due pregnant women have gone to great lengths to get their hands on the stuff, because it has a reputation for inducing labor. Yeah.
To a tired, pregnant woman who is even a single day past her 40 weeks, the idea of a salad that can "magically" speed up a baby's arrival is certainly appealing. But is there any legitimacy to this maternity myth?
The Story Behind the Salad
Thirty years ago, a past-due pregnant woman ate the salad, began having contractions, and went into labor. Ever since, Caioti's simple salad has garnered serious attention. Restaurant owner Carrie LaDou estimates that anywhere between five and 20 pregnant women visit Caioti each day, and they're all there for the same reason: to "get the baby out," she told TODAY.
When they're at the restaurant, pregnant patrons are invited to write a little something about their pregnancy in notebooks provided by Caioti. Some moms return after giving birth to share a photo of their newborn, LaDou says, and a list of the month's "Salad Babies" hangs on the wall.
Although LaDou says she's not sure what part of the salad is supposedly inducing labor, most of the pregnant patrons credit the salad's dressing for bringing on their babies. LaDou won't give up the secret recipe, but she assures TODAY that The Salad is well-respected around town.
"Doctors send their patients here — so do midwives and doulas," she said. "Everybody knows us, and the salad has become an end-of-pregnancy tradition for most locals."
Does It Really Work?
Although Caioti's salad dressing recipe is top-secret, we do know that it's some sort of balsamic vinaigrette — which makes sense (kind of).
Rumors that balsamic vinegar can induce labor when you're impatiently waiting on baby have actually circulated online for years. But there isn't any scientific evidence to back up its supposed labor-inducing abilities. Plus, some balsamic vinegars can be high in sugar, so it's important to enjoy the stuff in moderation, especially during pregnancy.
Our verdict: Caioti's salad probably isn't inducing labor for their past-due restaurant patrons, and we wouldn't advise hanging your hopes on the dish, even if you're desperate to give birth . But if you want to have a little fun and get your mind off your late arrival? There's probably no harm in indulging in a plate of The Salad come your due date.