Confession: I’m A Food Blogger And I’m Making You Fat For Money

image by Brooke Lark
image by Brooke Lark

Six years ago I started a blog. It quickly morphed from a family blog into a food blog. Because food is what I do. (Have you tried sex coffee? Please do.)

I don’t decorate my house for the holidays or braid my hair in fantastic ways. I make food. I can look at a photo and figure out the recipe. I can walk the aisles of the grocery store and conjure fun, new flavor combos on a whim. So not surprisingly, food became the focus of my blog, and within a year, I found myself professionally blogging, recipe-writing, and taking on clients.

From your side of the screen, my world looks like a handful of pretty photos. Recipes baked into a pan or arranged artistically on ceramic pedestals. Drizzled caramel sauce or garnished in parsley. From my side of the screen, my world is governed by stats and numbers. Recipes are posted and tracked. Food trends are hunted. Patterns are paid attention to. I’m always watching to see what you like—always waiting to see what goes viral.

You say you like bacon by clicking on any recipe wrapped in bacon. I calculate that and find a new way to serve you more of what you want. If bacon-wrapped jalapenos were a hit, I can assume bacon-wrapped meatloaf will be even better. Meatloaf is a comfort-food favorite, bacon-wrapped anything is a shoe-in. So off to the kitchen I go to create, shoot photos, and post. Because you love it.

I know you do because you’re clicking on it.

And what do you love? Here’s a short list of the most viral-friendly foodstuffs. (And to prove that I’m not making this up, check out the All-Time Most Viewed Recipes on Foodgawker for comparison):

  • Rainbow recipes
  • Bacon-wrapped recipes
  • Pull-apart bread
  • Mug cake recipes
  • Recipes in a Jar
  • Stuffed Cookies
  • Oreo anything
  • Nutella anything
  • Cookie Butter anything
  • Slow Cooker Recipes
  • Pasta Bakes
  • Enchiladas
  • Lasagna Rolls
  • Donuts
  • Cold Cereal Anything
  • Homemade Poptarts

When I look at that list, when I check out the Foodgawker favorites, here’s what I see: pasta, flour, butter, eggs, food coloring, processed foods. Yet ironically, if you were to pick up any of the three best-selling diet books on the market today, they’d reccomend you rid your diet of five of those ingredients.

Still, even as a healthy food lover, I’ve kept track of that list. I basically have it memorized now. When a client wants a traffic-driving post, I hit the list and start creating. Create a riff on an item on the list? Chances are good that the post will get noticed.

But here’s the big secret.

And here’s why you’re fat.

And here’s why it’s my fault.

I learned quickly—in fact, most food bloggers did—that if you can create a recipe with TWO or more of those viral-friendly favorites, you’re going to win the traffic game. Big time.

So over the years, food bloggers have gone from creating donut recipes to making Nutella Stuffed Donut Recipes Topped with Bacon. We’ve gone from making pizza to making Lasagna Stuffed Pizza-Cake-in-a-Jar. We’ve stopped going to bed on an empty stomach and started peddling 2-Minute Lucky Charms Midnight Munchies Mug Cake. (I just made up those recipe titles, but I bet ten bucks they’d go viral.)

NewFlash: This isn’t food. It’s crap. It’s cancer. It’s causing you to be fat.

And it’s because of me.

And it’s because of you.

And it’s because of me.

And it’s because of you.

We’re all stuck in this competitive consumerism cycle, and it’s ruining our health. Hungry for the next big thing. Starved for shock and awe. We’ve twisted food from a beautiful, natural, necessary way to fuel our bodies into an extreme sport. We’re putting millions of dollars into the hands of companies and recipe creators because we click.

And when you click, I keep track.

I cook. I create. I post. I wow.

And you click.

Meanwhile, I’m tossing whatever heinous creation was just concocted in my kitchen into the trash. Because it’s not food, it’s crap. And it’s killing us.

But damn if it doesn’t drive the traffic. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

This post originally appeared at YourTango.


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