My edible jetpack: A presentation and tasting

Short thesis

Technology, social media, and global mobility are causing food trends to proliferate faster and spread farther than ever before. Explore how digital communication is accelerating the way chefs, avid foodies, and ultimately industries discover tomorrow's flavors. Participate in an experiment using data to prototype a new flavor sensation.


From the food trucks of Los Angeles to the matcha cookies at Markthalle Neun, most of the key food trends in the last 15 years have spread through independent innovators rather than the food industry – as was the case for most of the 20th century. Whereas sliced bread and TV dinners were cooked up by industry R&D and marketing, today’s ramen grilled cheese, kale chips, cronuts are created by young entrepreneurs who tune into global/local inspiration and shoot from the hip.

With a global explosion of food blogs, over 13M posts tagged #foodie on Instagram alone, and the fact that 44% of American millenials say they have posted a photo of food or drinks that they or someone else were having on social media, today’s glut of food trends travel fast.  What’s more, these trends are traversing global borders more frequently and flexibly, even challenging some of the most ingrained gastronomical traditions (vegans in the land of Würstchen, anyone?).

In this workshop, we'll explore several prominent food trends, probe their origins and evolution, and understand the roles that chefs, emerging media, foodie enthuisasts, and the industry play in driving propagation.  We'll consider how food trendspotting has evolved, with millions of tweets, pix, reviews, food blogs, Pinterest recipe boards, etc providing a wealth of data to an industry increasingly challenged to keep ahead of our changing tastes. We will also experiment with data-combing tools like Yelp Food Trends and IBM's Chef Watson to explore rapid hybridization in action, developing a new dish for participants to sample.