This is the Internet’s favorite food


A birthday cake from Tastykake. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

The Internet arguably made bacon happen. And the success of any number of trendy food concepts — from cronuts to ramen burgers to D.I.Y. Sriracha — derives, in part, from online buzz. But according to the Food Porn Index, a mesmerizing new Web site by health-food producer Bolthouse Farms, the Internet’s favorite food is neither bacon nor pizza nor pie … but the lowly, commonplace cake.

Cake? you say. As in, birthday? And yet, since the Food Porn Index launched two weeks ago, it’s logged well over 21 million Twitter and Instagram mentions of the baked good — as of this writing, more than runners-up candy, pie, pizza, berry and donut. Bacon doesn’t even crack the top six.


Maybe that has something to do with where it pulls from. Bolthouse designed the index to scrape public Twitter and Instagram feeds every 15 minutes for popular food-related terms, explained a company spokeswoman. That means it won’t necessarily pick up trends on Pinterest, that hunger-inducing playground of moms and foodies, or on popular cooking sites like AllRecipes.com (where the most popular foods include lasagna and various cake-like breads.) It certainly doesn’t highlight the lowly beet and brussels sprout, as its creators intended. (Unhealthy foods hog social hashtags at a ratio of roughly 7:3.)


In either case, this all serves to undermine a delicious core myth of the Web: namely, that bacon is somehow its patron food. In 2009, the L.A. Times’s tech section published an entire feature on the relationship between the Internet and bacon, linking the Web to the proliferation of bacon-themed and -flavored products and concluding that “bacon is as popular as any” meme. Three years later, the rumor of a bacon shortage paralyzed social media for days.

Would a cake shortage provoke the same virtual hysteria? Based on the frenzy surrounding the Twinkie’s 2012 demise, I would imagine so. Still, it seems what the Internet really needs is some bacon cake with candy on it. Oh, hey — it’s got some right here.

Caitlin Dewey runs The Intersect blog, writing about digital and Internet culture. Before joining the Post, she was an associate online editor at Kiplinger’s Personal Finance.
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Caitlin Dewey · March 5