A new survey highlights the impact new technologies have had on one of the oldest of human activities: cooking.
The cooking site AllRecipes was founded 15 years ago by a group of food-loving anthropology grad students. In 1999, the then-two-year-old site surveyed its users, asking them questions about why and when and how they cook. Now, to commemorate its birthday, AllRecipes re-conducted that same survey, asking its current users the same questions it asked back in 1999.
The new survey's overall findings, unsurprisingly but still intriguingly, involve technology: Our new gadgets, and the connective capabilities that accompany them, are drastically changing the way we cook. Smartphones are changing how we think about grocery shopping. Search engines are changing how we think about recipe-finding. Video sites, almost as ably as Grandma, are teaching us how to cure bacon and chop an onion and truss a chicken.
Phones have led to some of the biggest transformations. In 1997, AllRecipes notes, "the typical cell phone weighed 10 ounces and was used primarily for making phone calls." In 2012, though, more than a third of AllRecipes' online cooks said they used smartphones to look up recipes and cooking techniques. Fewer, but still significant, numbers of people used their portable computers to create digital shopping lists (18 percent of all -- not just smartphone-owning -- responders), redeem digital coupons (16 percent), and watch videos to improve their cooking skills (15 percent).