When people cannot get what they want, they often satisfy their desire by consuming a substitute. Substitutes can originate from within the taxonomic category of the desired stimulus (i.e., within-category substitutes) or from a different taxonomic category that serves the same basic goal (i.e., cross-category substitutes). Both a store-brand chocolate (within-category substitute) and a granola bar (cross-category substitute), for example, can serve as substitutes for gourmet chocolate. Here, we found that people believe that within-category substitutes, which are more similar to desired stimuli, will more effectively satisfy their cravings than will cross-category substitutes (Experiments 1, 2a, and 2b). However, because within-category substitutes are more similar than cross-category substitutes to desired stimuli, they are more likely to evoke an unanticipated negative contrast effect. As a result, unless substitutes are equivalent in quality to the desired stimulus, cross-category substitutes more effectively satisfy cravings for the desired stimulus (Experiments 3 and 4).