Social Media is Changing the Way We Cook, Google Finds

Pictures of food are popping up all over Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook. As Americans (and particularly millennial parents) turn toward snacking, they are also making their own midday meals, with an emphasis on style. A Google report last week about top searches for food in the United States found photo-perfect “mug cake” on the rise.

By analyzing the volume of searches — how many people googled “mug cake” or some variation of “mug cake recipe” in the past two years — Google can determine trends in many areas of life, and food especially.

Google broke down the trends in six different ways. There are sustained risers, which feature Ramen, rigatoni, bibimbap, empanada, and bundt cakes. Then seasonal risers which ebb and flow with seasons. These include pho, overnight oats, cheese curds, and pork shoulder. Rising stars — big upward trends — feature turmeric, cauliflower rice, sourdough bread, funfetti, and vegan donuts.

While these dishes are on their way in, others are dropping like flies. The foods facing a sustained decline in search interest include gluten free cupcakes (at long last!), evaporated cane juice, wheat free bread, and bacon cinnamon rolls (um, who would want those to begin with?). Some foods decline with the seasons, such as quinoa, wedding cakes (they’ll be up again in summer), red velvet cake, and marshmallow fondant. Foods facing big downward trends include the rainbow bagel, vanilla bean paste, dutch baby pancake, and buffalo chicken fries (sorry, Burger King!).

Mug cake had a huge boost recently, as search traffic for the food increased by 82 percent from December 2015 to January 2016. Americans are searching for tasty but healthy flavors, such as chocolate, vanilla, peanut butter, and coffee. Their queries also features such words as “vegan,” “paleo,” “no egg,” and “gluten free.”

Here is a video showing how to make 3-minute microwave chocolate mug cake — yum!

Next Page: Pho and Pork Shoulder

Another major trend is pho, the Vietnamese broth and noodle dish which also often features meats like chicken and vegetables like tomatoes, peppers, and cilantro. Google reports that customers are 8 percent more likely to search for pho on the weekends, with the most popular cities including Denver and Seattle.

Here’s a video on how to make pho!

But not all rising trends are foreign or artsy — barbecue pork shoulder is also making a splash on the web. Consumers are searching for new ways to make the barbecue meat, usually following American-sytle barbecue or branching out into the Korean and Cantonese ways of preparing it. Pork shoulder searches are booming in Boston, Chicago, and Denver.

Here’s a video on roasting pork shoulder.