When you think of how technology has crept into the nooks and crannies of your home, what comes to mind? Flat screen TVs, laptops, tablets, and smartphones? Where do you picture these gadgets – sitting on top of a desk, lying on a nightstand, mounted on a wall, in living rooms, bedrooms, and offices?
But what about the kitchen?
In many ways, it may seem that the way we cook has remained essentially unchanged over the years — more convenient, perhaps, but basically the same. But by looking back over even a brief time period, we can see how significant an impact our modern technologies have had in the way we think about, prepare, and share our meals with both families and strangers alike. The kitchen, like the rest of our homes, has gone digital.
Fifteen years ago, a group of anthropology students began a website called CookieRecipe.com, which soon morphed into Allrecipes.com. In 1999, Allrecipes hosted its first on-site survey to gather information on the behaviors and attitudes of its users; this year, in honor of the site’s 15th anniversary, the site re-ran its survey.
What has happened to the way we cook in the interim? Quite a lot.
For one, the smartphone has infiltrated the kitchen. In 1997, cell phones were used as just that: as devices to make phone calls (how archaic!). In 2012, more than one-third of survey respondents reported using smartphones in meal planning and preparation – 35 percent looked up recipes, 29 percent snapped a photo of a dish they prepared, and 18 percent created a digital shopping list:
A second finding was the impact that online videos have had in the kitchen. Today, three-quarters of women watch cooking videos online, and the percentage of women who consider how-to videos a must-have for recipe websites has nearly doubled in the past 13 years (from 45 percent in 1999 to 74 percent in 2012). And lastly, but perhaps not surprisingly, nearly half of cooks believe that in 15 years, more people will learn how to cook from videos than from their parents. RIP, Bubbe’s matzo ball soup.
Third, the proliferation of technology has improved how cooks consider the time commitment and hassle that meal preparation can entail. When asked in 1999 what was the most difficult thing about getting dinner on the table, 29 percent of respondents said “finding time to plan and cook.” Today, this number has dropped 39 percent, as smartphone apps, digital shopping lists, and online coupons make planning and preparing a meal easier than ever before.
The Allrecipes survey uncovered a great collection of interesting stats, including the rise of organic ingredients in home kitchens, how different generations approach cooking, and the ways in which social media have changed how home cooks share recipes and tips. It also reveals the site’s top 15 recipes of all time. What’s number one? At 14 million page views, it’s the World’s Best Lasagna. Yum.
Sometimes, the more things change, the more they stay the same.
For more details on how technology has changed the way we cook at home, check out the Allrecipes report online (PDF).