Google’s Year in Search Reveals 2019 as the Year of Comfort Foods

Food & Drink

What were people more likely to be eating this year than last? According to Google Search data for 2019, Americans were more likely to be noshing on homey, feel-good foods like Shepherd’s pie and chicken parmigiana, accompanied by snickerdoodle cookies or king cake. The recipes that make 2019’s food trends list are all about comfort and indulgence. They’re foods that smell and taste like a warm hug.

Google’s Year in Search data illuminates new areas of interest by documenting searches that spiked in traffic over a sustained period of the year, compared to the year prior. Last year, Instagram-famous unicorn cake landed in the number one trending search spot, and the rest of the category was all about the Keto diet. Keto pancakes, Keto cheesecake, Keto cookies, Keto chili and Keto brownies all made the top trending food searches of 2018.

This year, trending recipe searches are not for foods that will look good on Instagram, or that will help you narrow your waist-line. (The only Keto-related recipe that made the 2019 list is for chaffle, a low-carb, cheese-based waffle.) Instead, 2019 seems to have brought on cravings for meals meant to be eaten fireside, around the table with family, or devoured while tucked in on the couch wearing stretchy sweatpants.

Interest in recipes varied based on region of the country. Folks on the East Coast were interested in rustic chicken cacciatore while those in the South searched for the news-making “popeyes chicken sandwich recipe.” Searches for “tater tot casserole recipe” jumped in the Midwest. Holiday recipes including “ham glaze” and charoset also fill in the top spots of the newly published list.

Spanish language searches for 2019 follow the same themes of down-home flavors. The top trending Receta search is for capirotada, a Mexican bread pudding that bakes cubes of bread with sweet mulled syrup, raisins, and cheese—not unlike a Jewish kugel. Also trending are fresas con crema, strawberries with cream, and a bevy of dishes that utilize the beautifully silky and indulgent ingredient of sweetened condensed milk, including flan, a caramel and custard cake, Mexican cornbread (pan de elote) and Mexican rice porridge (arroz con leche). And just like the English-language recipe searches, stick-to-your ribs comfort foods—like albondigas (meatballs) and rustic caldo de res, a slow cooked beef shank and potato stew—also make the list.

Why the bend toward comfort foods in 2019? It’s possible that these trending searches for folksy foods are driven by a culture increasingly hungry for an anxiety antidote, a bite of hygge, if you will.

This past year, searches related to anxiety were the highest in all of Google’s search history, including “meds for anxiety,” “how to control anxiety” and “meditation for anxiety.” Searches related to climate were also up, possibly influenced by the top trending news searches of Hurricane Dorian and “California earthquake.” Two terror attacks also made the trending news list: “El Paso shooting,” and “Sri Lanka,” with related queries all about the April bombings.

Meanwhile, the soothing, warm whiskey and tea beverage “hot tottie” landed on the trending drinks list, and “learn to knit” is second on Google’s “Learn to” 2019 list.

So, what is the takeaway of Google’s Year in Search data? Perhaps it’s that we’re craving the smells and flavors of sugar caramelizing, meats stewing, and chicken frying as a nostrum to a world increasingly filled with stress and overwhelm. We’re taking up knitting, mixing up hot totties, and slow cooking braised meats all in the name of well-being. Even during this era of uncertainty and unrest, we can take solace in our abilities to create something utterly delicious and soothing right at home.

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