Play with your food!

I spent a few minutes this week putting together a quick script to pull data from the Locu API. Locu has done the hard work of gathering and parsing menus from around the US and has a lot of interesting data (and a good data team).

The API is easy to query by menu item (like “cheeseburger”, my favorite) and by running my little script I quickly had data for the prices of cheeseburgers in my set of zip codes (the 100 most populated metro areas in the US).



I’m a big fan of Pete Warden’s OpenHeatMap tool for making quick map visualizations, and was able to come up with the following:

The blue map is the average price of a cheeseburger by zip, with the red one showing the average price of pizza. The most expensive average cheeseburger can be found in Santa Clara, CA, ironically the city currently hosting the Strata data science conference this week. Have fun with those $18 cheeseburgers, colleagues!

You can also see some fun words in the pizza topping options:



In this plot, the x-axis is roughly geographic (ordered by zip code) and the y-axis is in order of popularity, with pepperoni being the most popular common pizza topping, and anchovies among the least.

This is just a quick look at some data, but hopefully it’ll encourage you to play with your food (data)!

Hacking the Food System: The Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookie

liquid n2 ice cream

Food+Tech Connect is putting together a fun series of essays where technologists and foodies share their opinions on how to hack to the food system.

They also had a great party, with liquid nitrogen ice cream and other very cool foods.

I’m honored to have been asked to participate, especially since food and tech are two of my favorite things! I decided to write about a hack that I did about three years ago, where I wrote a parser and built a statistical model of chocolate chip cookie recipes that I crawled off of the web.

I’d like to tell you the story of the Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe.

This isn’t the Neiman Marcus $65,000 cookie recipe. Nor is it the classic Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe that we all grew up with (and, though the instructions are all the same, my Mom made the best). This is a recipe learned from thousands of bakers around the world, via love and math.

Read the rest of the essay on their site. I’d love to know what you think!

Special thanks to Matt LeMay for language-clarifying edits to the piece.