We’re not the only mammals to enjoy the conviviality of sharing food with others. NPR’s food blog, The Salt, has a story about how bonobos (a type of ape) are social animals particularly inclined to break bread with other bonobos rather than face a meal by themselves or hoard their own food.
Scientists have discovered that immediate social rewards (such as physical contact) play a key role in whether or not a bonobo will share food. The bonobo’s willingness to share is not predicated on whether there is a pre-existing dynamic with the other animal. Strangers, so to speak, might be embraced before a friend.
There are some evolutionary theories as to why bonobos and humans tend to enjoy food with company. For example, this predilection ensures that “children and other vulnerable relatives get fed, social ties are strengthened, and alliances formed.”