#FoodTok, a mouthwatering subgenre of TikTok, has propelled some of the buzziest (and wackiest) food and recipe trends on social media over the past few years. Here at Instacart, we watched with fascination and wondered, how much of this content is making it into people’s carts?
To find out, we analyzed Instacart’s purchase data — which reflects millions of grocery transactions across the U.S. and Canada — to uncover whether people actually “carted” the ingredients for 20 prominent #FoodTok recipes.
We designed and built an interactive data story to share our results. The story first explained the concept behind our analysis through the lens of a specific example, Baked Feta Pasta, which was easily the biggest FoodTok trend of the last few years and the one readers were most likely to recognize. We then looked at Instacart data to see if orders started to climb after each of the 20 trends emerged on TikTok.
We found that some viral recipes like Nature's Cereal, the Green Goddess Salad, and Salmon Rice Bowl, all triggered dramatic spikes in orders on the Instacart platform. But for others, like Pasta Chips and Butter Boards, social media chatter didn't exactly translate into more purchases. Instacart's trend expert, Laurentia Romaniuk, helped explain how a combination of the ingredient affordability, the recipe's simplicity, and cultural moments all factor into shopping habits.
This trends piece was included in an end-of-year email sent to all Instacart customers and also shared by Instacart's corporate social media accounts. It received mentions in a variety of media outlets, including Good Morning America, Foodsided, and AdAge.
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