Arthur Bovino with Wikimedia Commons/Leevclarke
In the supermarket while shopping for ingredients, at home while turning on the stove, on the phone with your significant other while deciding where, what, or when to eat or drink, you did it... you were hungry and you went to Google, you went to what can only be called "The Oracle" of the modern age, and asked it to tell you how to make tzatziki sauce or chicken cacciatore, what Michael Phelps' diet was (because you were going to do that, too... and burn as many calories as he does every day, ahem, right), and how many calories vodka has (because if you were going to cheat on that Phelps diet, you might as well do it in an informed way, right?).
Most likely never before in the history of the world, has the world (or at least Google) known more about its denizens than can ever have been imagined in the past. We're nearly in danger of Jung's cultural unconscious taking over and just full on telling us what to do or not do for our better good for crying out loud. And that's thanks to search, and synonymous with that, Google. So it's fascinating to look at the information released by the search engine, which included details about some of the most searched and trending queries during 2012.
If you haven't watched Google's Zeitgeist video for 2012 yet, you should. Whatever your political party, whatever your nationality, the video is inspiration, pure humanity, pure search, and pure... well, both navel-gazing and philosophizing in the most personal and earnest meaning of the phrase. The narrative notes, "We searched for firsts, for relief, for a choice, for change, for something special, and for inspiration." Images of the American presidential debates play across the screen interspersed with those of inspiring athletic endeavors, the Arab Spring Uprising, and those iconic personalities we loved and lost during 2012.
Of the 1.2 trillion searches in 146 languages that were searched in Google, there were many amazing people and places noted, but the Google Zeitgeist report also detailed a lot of information about the foods, recipes, beers, cocktails, and restaurants that people typed in on their laptops, desktops, and mobile phones when they needed to know how they were going to fulfill the most basic of motivating factors when it comes to the human race: filling their bellies.
Search zeitgeist is something that Google has been (commendably) doing since 2001. It's something that goes beyond the company's "Do No Evil" mantra, fitting more squarely in the "Do Some Goddamn Good" sphere — a look at what "searches revealed about the interests, passions, and issues for the year," its resuls "based on global search queries on Google.com in English."
What should food-obsessed Googlers expect to learn about themsleves and their fellow food lovers from Google Zeitgeist 2012? Before you get too comfy on the couch with Goog... er, your inner shrink or dietician, you should know how the search engine qualified its results. There were two categories that the 2012 in-depth, nested analysis looked at, "Trending" and "Most Searched."
Trending: The "trending queries are the searches that had the highest amount of traffic over a sustained period in 2012 as compared to 2011.
Most Searched: The "most searched" queries are the most popular terms for 2012 — ranked in order of the queries with the largest volume of searches.
You'll find out about Australia's favorite beers, perhaps not be surprised that Canada searched for bacon and poutine (yes, beer, too), and learn that more countries are interested in hamburgers than you may have thought would be (Chile, Colombia, France). Sushi, pizza, KFC? Yes, yes, yes. Baking recipes for everything from macroons to cheesecake? You betcha.
And to the disappointment of every cupcake hater who thinks the trend should have died three years before the first Sex and the City movie was even a crumb of a thought on that sorry tourist trail outside Magnolia, Google Zeitgeist says, "Gird yourselves." Cupcakes are so high up in search across the board around the world, in places you may not have expected, that it's time everyone just quit their jobs and started full-scale black market buttercream manufacturing plants. Google's Zeitgeist video is bookended with Felix Baumgartner prepping and jumping out of a small, enclosed vessel to set the world record for skydiving some 24 miles, and breaking the sound barrier without vehicular power, a feat that made him one of the most searched terms according to Google in 2012. According to the rest of Google's Zeitgeist results, he jumped out and hurtled towards one giant blue, brown, and white cupcake.