We all have that out-of-touch aunt who asks “why do I want to know what so-and-so ate for lunch?’’ when you explain to her the concept of Twitter. Well, Aunt Patti, a recent University of Arizona study suggests that major conclusions can be made from all those tuna melt tweets.
Analyzing over 3.5 million food-related tweets written between October 2013 and May 2014, UA researchersgot a potential snapshot of America’s varying taste in food. By examining the #breakfast, #brunch, #lunch and #dinner hashtags, researchers were able to uncover regional differences in the popularity of certain meals and food items.
Apparently, Massachusetts really loves cod. Millet is a huge deal in Utah. And people in North Dakota actually know what flan is. Residents of Austin, Texas, post mostly about bottomless mimosas while Los Angelenos are tweeting #foodie and #directions (“No, the Whole Foods is in Marina del Rey, not Topanga Canyon!’’).
The authors who published the study wrote:
“Our diets reflect our identities. The food we eat is influenced by our lifestyles, habits, upbringing, cultural and family heritage.’’
This explains why grits are so popular in a clustered pocket of the South and why tamales prove most tweeted in New Mexico. But, upon closer inspection, things start getting a little fishy. Yolks in Illinois? Soy sauce in Montana? Vinegar in Colorado? And look no further than entree (yes, entree, as in the synonym of “meal’’) in Arkansas to prove that maybe some more research needs to be done.
There are potential explanations for some of the results. Cod may be the number one trending food item for Massachusetts because we have a Cape named after it. And Jared Keller, who posted this same study to Mic, may have gotten to the bottom of California’s interest in caviar.
@jaredbkeller Caviar may be b/c there's a foodie app called that.— Clara Jeffery (@ClaraJeffery) September 20, 2014
An explanation for Maine’s interest in durian fruit, however? The world may never know.