This morning Google released a new report detailing trends in searches for food and recipes across the country. The results, culled from an aggregate of data rarely revealed to the general public, are a look into American eating habits and desires over time and, in particular, right now. The data is striking: While rainbow bagels may have made headlines and caused long queues earlier this year, according to Google, they've quickly fallen out of fashion. And though people still request gluten-free bread and cake at restaurants, searches for these words have dropped off steadily in the past two years. Bread (and pasta), it seems, is back! There is also a changing notion of what constitutes "healthy" in America: These days it's not so much about eliminating foods from one's diet as it is about adding certain so-called superfoods into a daily diet. Here's a deeper look at the results of Google's data dive:
Trends Holding Steady:
It will surprise exactly no one that ramen, bibimbap, and bacon are trends that have shown no signs of waning over the past 24 months. Searches for these foods remain high, and this is mirrored in what we see in food media. Ramen is still hot. On the other hand, who knew that rigatoni, linguine, empanadas, and bundt cakes are also hot right now, and have been for the past two years?
The fastest growing trends in the dining sphere right now are centered around foods that are said to promote health and wellness. This list includes turmeric, which is purported to be a superfood and, anecdotally, is said to treat conditions as varied as jaundice, flatulence, PMS, bladder irregularities, hemorrhaging, toothaches, bruises, and chest pain. (Note that nutrition studies do not back up all of these claims.) Also on trend right this minute: jackfruit (said to mimic the mouthfeel of meat, it's used in stews throughout Southeast Asia); cauliflower rice (Paleo dieters still abound); sourdough bread; all things funfetti; and vegan doughnuts.
A note about what Google calls seasonal risers:
Google also tracks rising trends over time seasonally, so though pho and overnight oats are not popular in the summer, searches for these foods are very common in the winter months. Cheese curds, pork shoulder, smash cake (a baby's birthday cake that's meant both for eating and smashing), and gender reveal cake (a cake tinted or filled with frosting tinted pink or blue, so that when it's cut open the baby's gender is revealed) also fall into this category of trends that are rising, but only seasonally.
No Longer Trendy:
Gluten-free cupcakes, once a very popular search term, are no longer hot. Also steadily falling out of favor are evaporated cane juice, wheat-free bread, bacon cupcakes, and bacon cinnamon rolls. As recently has three years ago these foods were at the top of Google's search results. Wheat-free and gluten-free related searches also appear to be dropping off steadily.
These are trends that are rapidly falling out of favor, according to Google. Though funfetti is still very much in, rainbow foods, and particularly rainbow bagels — which look like they're made out of Playdoh — are decidedly out. Also out: vanilla bean paste; Dutch baby pancakes; Mulligan stew; Buffalo chicken fries; and chocolate slices.
A note about what Google calls seasonal decliners:
Adjusting for seasonal variance, Google says quinoa, wedding cakes, kale chips, red velvet cake, agave nectar, and marshmallow fondant are declining in popularity, depending upon the season. It's especially surprising to see quinoa, once hailed as a miracle food, dropping off the search giant's hot list.
Google then breaks down each of the most popular searches into what it sees as broader trends that define how we currently eat. Not only are a significant number of people searching for turmeric, but they're searching for recipes to use it in, different forms of turmeric, and especially "fresh" and "organic" versions of the spice and root. Searches for turmeric are spread evenly across the country. Consumers are searching for turmeric in the beginning of the week; searches for it decline as the week progresses. YouTube videos about turmeric and its health benefits clocked 3.9 million views over the past year. According to Google, this demonstrates that consumers are trying to educate themselves on different or new-to-them ingredients: "While they may be more aware of the added benefits that certain ingredients are said to provide, they are going online to educate themselves on how to consume these functional ingredients."
Popular and growing searches for pho, ramen, and bibimbap signal another trend Google notes, one it calls "Traveling Through Taste." Searches in the U.S. for foods common in other cultures, such as Mexican candy, taquitos, queso fresco, mochi ice cream, Japanese snacks, chamoy, pickled herring, and chocolate babka show that the American public is increasingly growing interested in food from Asia and Mexico. Not only do consumers want to know more about these foods, but they also want recipes, nutritional information, and where to find them at restaurants in their town. These searches were most popular in Portland, NYC, Chicago, Houston, Las Vegas, Austin, and Phoenix.
Other rising trends Google notes in its report are pulled pork shoulder; bite-sized snacks like mug cake and cheese curds; and a full-blown pasta comeback in the form of rigatoni, tortellini, linguine, penne, fusilli, mac and cheese bites, and gemelli. People want recipes for pasta, and they also want to know where to find the best pasta in their city.
Top 10 Recipe Searches:
1. Waffle recipe
2. Sugar cookie recipe
3. Brownie recipe
4. Chocolate cake recipe
5. Cupcake recipes
6. Cod recipe
7. Pie crust recipe
8. Crab cake recipe
9. Granola recipe
10. Vanilla cake recipe
Top 10 How-To Searches:
1. How to cut a mango
2. How to bake bacon
3. How to make cake pops
4. How to cut a pineapple
5. How to make ice cream
6. How to cook brown rice
7. How to soften brown sugar
8. How to cook steak
9. How to make frosting
10. How to cook crab legs