LISTEN LIVE

America's A Divided Nation Over Pie, Turkey Preparation

Nov 18, 2016

If you've been paying attention lately, there's been a lot of talk about how many media organizations relied a little too much on flawed polling and survey data in predicting outcomes.

With that in mind, we're still going to throw caution to the wind and look at some new data that helps break down how Americans seem so divided.

That’s right, we’re talking TURKEY. Or more specifically, how we our regions and preferences are very different when it comes to how we celebrate Thanksgiving, the most American of holidays.

Kelly McBride of the Poynter Institute for Media Studies breaks down these latest data divides from Google Trends:

•             Pie. According to Google trends, in most of the country, as we get close to Thanksgiving, there is a clear front-runner in pie recipe searches, and that is pumpkin pie. But while that is true here in Florida and in 32 other states, that is not universal in every state.

Apple pie is the front runner in 13 states including Michigan, a state with a changing demographic, which is difficult to nail down. And add to the apple pie list New York, Maine, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia.

Of course there's an alternative third candidate in these searches. Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana are doing their own thing, hunting down pecan pie recipes.

•             Turkey.  Google Trends shows our cooking preferences – or at least the preferences people want to try in the way they prepare the holiday bird. In the middle of the country, from Texas on up through the Midwest and into Montana, those people are looking to smoke their turkeys. Out West, in the Upper Midwest, the Northeast and Florida, we are a little more traditional, looking to roast our turkeys. In Louisiana, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Kentucky, those people are most interested in frying their birds.

•             Football vs. the Thanksgiving Day Parade. It’s split across the country as to whether people are more interested in Googling about the NFL on Thanksgiving or the annual parade in New York City. In the middle of the country, from Missouri, through the industrial Midwest of Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania and into New York and parts of New England, the parade wins. Florida, being the swing state that it is, was in a statistical dead heat in searches for the two.

If you’re wondering why this is part of Making Sense of the Media, McBride said Google Trends offers us a lot of information about ourselves and our interests.

"Years ago, Google figured out that it could predict certain viral outbreaks like the flu, by looking at what people were searching for," she said. "And then when they started digging more into their search data, they discovered all kinds of insights about America and various regions within America."

It's just more evidence, she said, that our media ecosystem is much like a living, breathing organism that encompasses all of us.