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Thanksgiving Around the Nation

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2014/11/25/upshot/thanksgiving-recipes-googled-in-every-state.html?_r=0&abt=0002&abg=1

Jump to a state

Like many other readers, we were fascinated by the 50-dishes-for-50-states Thanksgiving mega-menu that our colleagues in the Food section recently produced. The piece – and the many reactions to it – got us wondering what a democratic version of the project might look like. That is, if the residents of every state could vote for distinct Thanksgiving dishes, what would each state’s dish be?

So we asked researchers at Google for help. You can think of every web search that someone does for a recipe as a kind of vote, after all. The researchers didn’t focus on the most popular dish in every state, because that would be “turkey” in all 50 states. They instead looked for the most distinct.

The dishes you see listed here are the result of the analysis. The numbers next to each dish indicate how much more popular searches for it were in a given a state than in the rest of the country during the week of Thanksgiving over the past 10 years. In Michigan, for example, “cheesy potatoes” is 9 times more commonly searched (relative to population size) than in the rest of the country.

You should not interpret the dishes here as the most iconic Thanksgiving recipes in each state, or even a state's favorite dish. It’s possible that some dishes are so central to a state’s culture that people there don’t need to search for them on the web, for instance. But academic research – on everything from voter turnout to flu epidemics– has found that Google searching can be a meaningful indictor of behavior and attitudes. We certainly learned a lot from the analysis – ooey gooey bars! pig pickin cake! – and have had great fun talking about them around the office in the last few days. We hope you enjoy it as much.

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