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Charting chocolate chip cookies. Image credit: Google News Lab/Truth and Beauty.
Charting chocolate chip cookies. Image credit: Google News Lab/Truth and Beauty.

Google Charts the Seasonal Patterns of Food Trends

Charting chocolate chip cookies. Image credit: Google News Lab/Truth and Beauty.
Charting chocolate chip cookies. Image credit: Google News Lab/Truth and Beauty.

Google trends can tell us a lot, from the country’s top political concerns to the likelihood of traffic jams. They’re also a good indicator of what Americans have on their plate in any given season. What’s on the menu for December? Hot chocolate, peppermint, and tamales. According to The Rhythm of Food, a collaboration between Google News Lab and Truth & Beauty, searches for all three peak around this time of year.

As WIRED reports, the data visualization project consists of hundreds of infographics representing 12 years worth of food-related searches. The graphs below show how certain keywords rise to prominence during specific months. For instance, more people search for stew during the winter than the fall, and searches for gefilte fish see a sharp spike around Passover.

The website’s clock graphs chart the trajectory of food trends though the seasons as well as through the years, with each year represented by a different color. One chart shows that—surprise, surprise—pumpkin spice lattes trend around autumn, but it also illustrates that searches for the term have been cropping up earlier in recent years.

The Rhythm of Food project began by plotting data points linearly. This is a handy way to look at the rise and fall of shorter-lived food trends (kale, for example, has been declining in popularity since 2014, while searches for cauliflower are on the rise). But as their circular infographics show, breaking searches down by week can tell us even more, like that chia seeds are a hot post-New Year’s diet food and people are more likely to search for marshmallows around Thanksgiving than summertime because of its popularity as a sweet potato topper.

[h/t WIRED]

All images courtesy of the Google News Lab/Truth & Beauty.

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How Google Chrome’s New Built-In Ad Blocker Will Change Your Browsing Experience
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If you can’t stand web ads that auto-play sound and pop up in front of what you’re trying to read, you have two options: Install an ad blocker on your browser or avoid the internet all together. Starting Thursday, February 15, Google Chrome is offering another tool to help you avoid the most annoying ads on the web, Tech Crunch reports. Here’s what Google Chrome users should expect from the new feature.

Chrome’s ad filtering has been in development for about a year, but the details of how it will work were only recently made public. “While most advertising on the web is respectful of user experience, over the years we've increasingly heard from our users that some advertising can be particularly intrusive,” Google wrote in a blog post. “As we announced last June, Chrome will tackle this issue by removing ads from sites that do not follow the Better Ads Standards.

That means the new feature won’t block all ads from publishers or even block most of them. Instead, it will specifically target ads that violate the Better Ad Standards that the Coalition for Better Ads recommends based on consumer data. On desktop, this includes auto-play videos with sound, sticky banners that follow you as you scroll, pop-ups, and prestitial ads that make you wait for a countdown to access the site. Mobile Chrome users will be spared these same types of ads as well as flashing animations, ads that take up more than 30 percent of the screen, and ads the fill the whole screen as you scroll past them.

These criteria still leave room for plenty of ads to show up online—the total amount of media blocked by the feature won’t even amount to 1 percent of all ads. So if web browsers are looking for an even more ad-free experience, they should use Chrome’s ad filter as a supplement to one of the many third-party ad blockers out there.

And if accessing content without navigating a digital obstacle course first doesn’t sound appealing to you, don’t worry: On sites where ads are blocked, Google Chrome will show a notification that lets you disable the feature.

[h/t Tech Crunch]

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Amazon Will Now Deliver Whole Foods Groceries To Your Door
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Since its acquisition of Whole Foods for $13.7 billion in 2017, Amazon has slowly been ramping up synergy between the two brands. An Amazon Go concept convenience store in Seattle allows customers to enter, scan their cell phone, and walk out with groceries without having to stand in line; select Amazon products, like their Echo devices, have made their way onto retail shelves.

Now, consumers in Austin, Dallas, Cincinnati, and Virginia Beach can use their status as an Amazon Prime customer to get free home delivery of their Whole Foods groceries. Beginning Thursday, February 8, the market will drop off orders within two hours. (One-hour delivery carries a $7.99 charge.)

“We're happy to bring our customers the convenience of free two-hour delivery through Prime Now and access to thousands of natural and organic groceries and locally sourced favorites,” Whole Foods Market co-founder and CEO John Mackey said in a statement. “Together, we have already lowered prices on many items, and this offering makes Prime customers’ lives even easier.”

Most everything in the store is eligible for delivery, though we’re not certain they’d deliver a live lobster. “Select” alcohol is also available. You can visit primenow.com to see if you’re in their delivery region. Keep checking, as they plan to expand throughout 2018.

If you’re not near a Whole Foods at all, other regional grocery chains like Wegman’s also offer home delivery on a subscription-based pricing structure.

[h/t The Verge]

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