Analysis of more than 30 million posts made over 13 months on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram revealed that the traditional “American” meal now has many ethnic influences.
After analyzing more than 30 million posts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to discover what makes up the ultimate American meal, a recent survey showed that it may not be as traditionally “American” as many might think, the Rapid City (S.D.) Journal reported.
Based on social media posts shared by Americans across all 50 states from Nov. 1, 2013 to Nov. 30, 2014, the survey showed that nearly half of socially shared food content included smoked, hot and spicy flavors paired with popular proteins, the Journal reported. The most common ethnic flavor was Cajun, with Mexican and Asian close behind.
The survey was done through the National Pork Board (NPB), in conjunction with digital analytics from Crimson Hexagon’s ForSight tool, the Journal reported.
“It doesn’t matter if you consider yourself a foodie, a novice chef, a restaurant aficionado or just someone who enjoys a great home-cooked meal—diversity is the most common denominator in our tastes, based on what we’re sharing on our plates,” said Pamela Johnson, the National Park Board’s Director of Communications. “Exotic and unexpected flavors are becoming such staples of our American cuisine, they can easily be seen as our new American palate.
“We see sriracha on pizza, ramen on burgers and chorizo in everything from eggs to eggplant parmesan,” Johnson added. “Flavor is at the center of our country’s table.”
While one meal didn’t emerge from the survey as America’s number-one favorite, the Journal reported, NPB’s data did reveal these socially-driven trends in flavors, ingredients and pairings:
- When it comes to culinary passions shared with #foodporn, the diverse flavors of the American palate have one thing in common—pork. Pork is by far the “spiciest” meat, with 41 percent of pork posts including #foodporn. Only one in three posts about beef (31 percent) included #foodporn, and a mere 23 percent of chicken posts included the sultry hashtag.
- Swiss, Cheddar, American or Brie: it doesn’t matter, so long as it’s cheese. It’s America’s most popular food topping.
- Bacon is the top-mentioned pork product in the majority of the U.S. When it comes to this nationwide favorite, 23 percent mentioned maple as a preferred seasoning, and 35 percent want their bacon crispy.
- Bread is the most frequently mentioned grain, pulling in 22 percent of mentions alongside proteins—all of which confirms that Americans are fans of foods that they can really wrap their hands around.
As part of an exclusive branded “advertorial” content series produced for the food and dining site, Eater, NPB took those results and developed a data-driven recipe, for a Cheesy Maple Bacon Cajun Pulled Pork Sandwich that is representative of America’s favorite flavors and foods.
The NPB-Eater team’s flavor-packed, juicy sandwich combines seven of the research’s most significant findings into one dish, the Journal reported. The true “meal mashup” features Cajun-rubbed, cayenne pepper-infused pulled pork atop a hearty bun with extra-sharp cheddar cheese, bread-and-butter pickles and maple bacon, then served alongside crispy potatoes and a Sriracha yogurt.
“They say the sum is greater than the parts,” said Johnson. “After the Cronut, mashups have been gaining momentum, so an original recipe mashup of our most socialized food is the truest illustration of how we eat and what we share.”
Social sharing has been catapulted by hashtag usage, the Journal reported, which has reached new heights with platforms like Instagram gaining in popularity. NPB social research also uncovered some unique findings about what’s really happening when people share food posts along with what they consider “#foodporn”:
- #Foodporn is an evening affair. More than six in 10 individuals posting about a specific meal are posting about dinner—but it’s just as likely to be about a great meal at a restaurant as it is about one that is home-cooked. Twenty-six percent of posts were about a restaurant meal, while 28 percent featured a home-cooked meal.
- Americans like it smoked, hot and spicy. The top flavors shared on social media associated with pork are hot (28 percent), spicy (18 percent) and smoked (16 percent)—and the most popular cuisines across all proteins include Cajun, Mexican, Italian and Asian.
- Side dishes remain standard, not sophisticated. While the American palate may have become more diverse over the last decade, when it comes to #foodporn, Americans are still all about the meat and potatoes. Over one in three (38 percent) of all sides mentioned were about the potato—largely split between fries (16 percent) and other varieties of baked, mashed, sweet or gratin potatoes (22 percent). But vegetables have their share of the love as well. Almost a third (32 percent) of posts that mentioned a side mentioned a vegetable.
- You are where you eat. When it comes to conversations about food, geography matters. For example, New Yorkers lead all food conversations about protein, and seven Western states pair pork most frequently with eggs.