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Cupcakes Continue World Domination and Other Lessons from Google's 2011 Zeitgeist

Cupcakes were one of the most Googled terms of 2011
Cupcakes were one of the most Googled terms of 2011

Much to our chagrin, the cupcake is a trend that just won't die: according to Google's 2011 Year-End Zeitgeist, cupcakes were one of the most popular Food and Drink search terms of the year. Other fascinating revelations about our food-related search engine habits: everyone in the world was constantly on the hunt for pizza, and Canadians sure do love making pork tenderloins.

As it has done every year since 2001, Google analyzed the billions of the terms that we users typed into its search box in 2011, filtered out spam and constructed "lists that best reflects the spirit of the times." Most of the search terms are ranked by popularity, though a few lists reflect the "fastest rising" searches - that is, the most popular queries in a particular category are compared to their popularity last year, then ranked based on their increase in search volume.

Globally, the fastest rising food and drink terms ranked almost all related to one fast food chain or another: Wendys topped the list, followed by the UK's Just Eat chain, Little Caesar's, and Chick-Fil-A. Fast food also dominated the list of the most popular restaurant searches in the United States, with corporate pizzas taking the biggest slice of the search engine pie: Pizza Hut, Dominos, and Papa Johns were the first, second, and third most popular searches, respectively.

The above statistics may or may not be related to the fastest rising diets in the U.S., the most popular of which was the Dukan Diet. The Four Hour Diet, diets inspired by Rachael Ray, and the so-called "heart attack-proof" Esselstyn Diet also were in the top ten.

Cupcakes also continued its appeal with everyone on Earth: it was the most popular food term searched for in Australia and among the top ten in New Zealand, Brazil, Colombia, Argentina, the Philippines and Singapore. Globally, it was the tenth fastest rising term of the year.

Even more interesting than these global trends are the trends within the countries themselves. The ice cream sundae, for example, may be the new cupcake: they were distinctly popular in several countries, including Singapore, the Phillipines, and Australia.

Canadians searched for pork tenderloin recipes the most; in contrast, beef broccoli was the most popular food Googled in the Philippines. In Brazil, the most popular food query was bolo; in Peru, it was "pisco sour receta," and in New Zealand, Kiwis were the most fascinated with KFC's gut-busting Double Down sandwich. Understandably.

We're not silly or psychic enough to guess what will turn up on next year's lists of most popular searches. As long as we're on this side of 2012, though, we may as well hazard a hope that fruits and vegetables, the uncool kids of the food world, will dominate come January. And that the overly popular cupcakes will get its comeuppance and land at the top of the Fastest Falling list. Geeks took over the world. So too can parsnips and apples.


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