Researchers at the University of Arizona have released a study that reveals America’s food preferences based on the most commonly used Twitter hashtags.
Spotted on FirstWeFeast, the researchers analysed 3.5 million tweet with food hashtags that were taken from Twitter’s API between October 2013 and May 2014.
The original purpose of the study was to determine if what people hashtag and talk about on Twitter can convey information about their community and health, such as their likelihood of diabetes, their weight, and even their political preferences.
What they found was that our food preferences can actually reveal a lot about us. Diabetes sufferers, for example, were more likely to tweet about Mexican, fried food, or bacon. Food also delineated party lines, with Democrats tweeting about vegan food, brunch, and the deli counter, while Republicans were all about lunch, snacks, and #party.
The researchers created visual maps of the food patterns they found as well, such as which foods each state hashtagged the most on Twitter.
Some of the findings were unsurprising, such as Texans loving brisket and Wisconsinites favouring sauerkraut. But other states had bizarre results, such as the spiky fruit durian being popular in Maine or Alaska loving to tweet about the herb tarragon.
It should be noted that these results don’t necessarily show the state’s favourite food, but the food that is most often hashtagged on Twitter. New York’s “prune” result for example was not about the fruit at all, but is instead the name of a popular NYC restaurant.
The researchers also filtered out the highest-weighted hashtag results for some major US cities where, it seems, everyone loves to get drunk. Mixed drinks were one of the most popular hashtags across the board (especially if they were bottomless), as was #wine, #foodie, and #brunch.
Last but not least, researchers broke down the findings by region for the West, Midwest, South, and Northeast. The Midwest was most likely to tweet about breakfast and recipes, the Northeast loved its brunch, the South favoured lunch as well as mixed drinks like bloody marys, and the West tweeted most about dinner and #foodporn.
You can read the paper online here or play with this interactive tool that allows you to create your own graphic visualizations.
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