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A Twitter Visualization of Human Cravings.

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A Twitter Visualization of Human Cravings.

Ch. 1 - Food Obsession

Hey, Look around you.

Everyday in the US, someone somewhere is lining up for hipster foods*. It used to be cronuts and ramen burger, but now people are freaking out over fried chicken sandwiches, rainbow bagels, 2000-calorie milkshakes, raindrop cake, cheesy gooey raclette, and now.. have you heard of pizza in a pizza box made of pizza? You name it, they want it.

According to a study conducted by BBDO in 2014, 48% of millennials self-proclaimed themselves as foodies.** And that number continues to grow! It's fascinating how food has become the crux of our generation. A generation so obsessed with food, they seek new food experiences as a hobby rather than simply eating out of necessity.

* 1, 2, 3.   **4.

Ch. 2 - Internet Culture & Social Media

But food obsession is not a new thing. Food has always had a unifying quality that brings people together. What makes things different now, is that internet culture & social media have allowed us to expose our feelings more prominently.

We live in a “society of the spectacle”, a phrase coined by Guy Debord in 1967. He defined the spectacle as a social relationship between people that is mediated by images. We are consumed by the voyeuristic appeal of gastroporn that social media offers every single day. I'm talking about those short tasty food clips on Facebook and of course the infamous Korean 'mukbang' (eating broadcast) on YouTube... Did you know that some of them could earn up to $10,000 a month just to eat on camera?! The future really is now.

"I saw it online..."

Ch. 3 - Craving as an Impact

"...and now I'm craving it."

The impact of this is that we started developing behaviours of constant craving over what we’ve seen and heard. According to Fabio Parasecoli, Food Studies Director at The New School, cravings are expressions of emotion, psychological status, and personal stories, at the same time they reflect personal context. The context can be environmental, or might be triggered by some sort of events and memories. Take cupcake as an example:

Case Study: "Why did Cupcakes get so popular?"

"I say it happened for two main reasons: 9/11 and Sex and the City. September 11th happened and people all of a sudden wanted to go back to comfort foods and cupcakes were the most comforting food. It's a handheld memory of your favorite parts of childhood. Then, what really lit it up, very shortly after that there was a cameo shot of two of the main characters, Carrie and Miranda of Sex and the City, eating cupcakes on the bench of Magnolia Bakery in New York. It was like, ‘Cupcakes and stilettos! We're living the life!"
— David Sax, author of “The Tastemakers: Why We're Crazy For Cupcakes But Fed Up With Fondue”

"Why do people crave what they crave?"

Eve Turow, author of "A Taste of Generation Yum", explains the reasons why people crave what they crave and how cravings expressed in social media can affect our food culture.

From here I started wondering, then are we the ones responsible for shifting the food culture? Is there a way to measure these food cravings as phenomenon? And...

"How might we capture and visualize ‘craving’ as a fleeting moment of human desire for food, in conjunction with popular public events and occasions?"

To answer this, I started scraping Twitter for the word 'craving' around major US events and holidays from Fall 2015 to Spring 2016. Through a series of data analyses, I created an interactive visualization of food cravings during these popular events: Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, the Super Bowl, the Lunar New Year, Mardi Gras, Valentine’s Day, the Oscars, Leap Year Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, April Fool’s Day, and Mother's Day. Read more about the process here .

Collective Craving logo Mukbang - Korean Eating Broadcast Craving.. daydreaming about food
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