So Hot Right Now

The Food Apps We *Wish* Existed

September 17, 2015

Calling all product developers and magicians. 

bacon lovers app

After an evening of worrying over the future of our country's leadership followed by seeing Pablo Escobar get away again, I needed to wake up and hear some good news. Turns out, Oscar Mayer has released an app (Sizzl) that "connects users with other bacon lovers nationwide" according to a review by TIME. Nevermind that this is apparently how we define "news" nowadays, nor that it did little to lift my spirits—the ridiculousness of it got our editors thinking about the food apps that we wish existed. And THAT was fun. 

Shop the Story

What we learned through this exercise is that we're a really lazy very hopeful lot. Here are the apps we really do wish existed, and a few that we dared to dream about. 

  • Coffeeinate: an app that allows you to order a coffee from your favorite barista, pay for it through the app, then walk into the coffee shop and have it waiting to swipe off the counter. —me


  • The Fennel Detector: an app that saves you from eating foods you loathe (or are "allergic" to). Hold your phone over any food to scan for contaminant (like fennel) so you don't mistakenly eat it. Settings allow you to customize for testing widely disliked foods such as cilantro and gluten. —Sarah Jampel
  • Breathy: distinguished by a meter that tracks from "Don't Do It!" to "Makeout," this app will allow you to breathe into your phone and see how bad your breath smells like garlic, onions, or tuna fish. —anonymous


  • Shop Map: maps out the shortest route to what you need in the grocery store based on your inputted grocery list. Saves time and feelings of insanity as you go back to the same aisle five times for different things. —Ali Slagle
  • One Dumpling: an app that delivers you just 1 dumpling, wherever you are, for when you're not very hungry but sill want a dumpling; sister app One Scallion Pancake does the same for scallion pancakes. —Madeline Muzzi & Caroline Lange


  • Lineo: choose any restaurant, coffee shop, or Trader Joe's well-priced grocery store in your vicinity and view the status of the line or the average time of the current wait, without calling and speaking to someone who is going to lie to you anyway. —Ali Slagle
  • Chooser: an app for helping you decide what recipe to make from a cookbook. Open the app and see how many people have made which recipes from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone (and what their results were!) so that it's easier to choose! —Sarah Jampel
  • The Secret Spotter: an app that tells you when you're getting close to a hard-to-find, locals-only, word-of-mouth type place that never shows up in the right spot on a map (imagine a kind motherly voice telling you excitedly: "You're getting warmer! Even warmer!") —Lindsay-Jean Hard

secret spotter

  • Hotty: turns your phone into a tiny heater that will keep your coffee warm for longer; doubles as a hand-warmer on cold days (and that will make you feel less bad about holding onto your phone even when it's in your pocket because you're so attached to it). —Ali Slagle
  • The Spice: an app that will keep track of all of your spices so that you don't end up with 3 bottles of cinnamon and 5 bottles of red pepper flakes because you always think you're out. —Caroline Lange
  • Dubious Rewards: this app chooses a workout for you and then suggests a beer to drink afterwards (since experts say that beer is a good recovery drink). —Taylor Rondestvedt

dubious rewards

  • Pantreater: an app that would tell you which recipes from a cookbook you could make based on the ingredients you already have in your house. —Caroline Lange
  • You Cheap: app that tells you where to find TK item (okay, mostly breakfast cereal) on sale at grocery stores. As in, where can I get the $3.99 box of Puffins as opposed to the $5.99 supermarket price? —Sarah Jampel
  • Avocadwoes: scan in a picture of an avocado and this app will tell you if it has any brown spots, is perfect for consumption, needs 2 days and 1 1/2 hours to ripen, or is better off pickled. Can be set, alternatively, to tell you when certain produce will go bad. —meSam Weiss-Hills


  • Eat it Anyway: an app that encourages you when you try something new in the kitchen: "That looks right, of course you were supposed to fold it that way!" "No, no, that's great, I like the charred bits!" —Lindsay-Jean Hard
  • Slimdr: dating apps that show ONLY the people who are in the same restaurant or bar as you. So: That guy across the room? Let technology help you with that. —Kenzi Wilbur

What food apps do you long for? (No rules here.) Let us know in the comments! 

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • EL
  • dsullyo
  • Betsey
  • Penelope Rose
    Penelope Rose
  • lindsay | please pass the peas
    lindsay | please pass the peas
Amanda Sims

Written by: Amanda Sims

Professional trespasser.


EL September 17, 2016
I like "the Secret Spotter" but think it should be amended to list great places to eat in different cities that only the locals know about with descriptions. You could update each week/month for your hometown/city. You could download a city if traveling. Then the app that you suggested would take over once you select a spot. So helpful if it would work.
dsullyo September 19, 2015
Re: Shop Map
There is an app for that. Its free and works great.
There is an option that organizes your shopping list in your local grocery store by aisle. You set it up once and you are good to go.
Betsey September 18, 2015
I vote for the dumpling one. Amazeballs.
Penelope R. September 18, 2015
Love this list!
lindsay |. September 18, 2015
@CarolineLange Re: Pantreater, the website Eat Your Books already does this. You enter a list of cookbooks, then search by ingredients to find recipes in the books you already own.

I would love to see an app that compares recipes. Say I'm looking at 3 cake recipes and want the one with the highest ratio of sugar to flour, or something like that. Easy enough unless one recipe has measurements by weight, another by volume and the third uses a pan size that is different from the other two. An app could save me the math.
hannah B. September 18, 2015
"The Fennel Detector" is being developed, available 2016!
Katie September 18, 2015
definitely agree on the 'Pantreater' one, I waste so much time googling different combos of random things I have unsuccessfully, and then end up either making something boring, or just going out to eat/out to the grocery again.
And the ShopMap thing would save me sooo much time or something similar that showed if hard-to-find ingredients were actually sold IN a particular grocery.
Making a Food52 recipe in particular, ( I had to go to three different grocery stores to find the tempeh and miso, and then didn't end up finding the mizuna at all, had to sub mustard greens.

Some of the other ones just seem really odd or completely unfeasible. But the breathy one does already exist - I did see that Shark Tank episode, too, Amy!
LB September 18, 2015
I love this!!
Ahuvah B. September 18, 2015
I'd love an app that allows me to split fresh herbs with others at checkout. I never need all that parsley, rosemary or dill. Ever.
byb September 18, 2015
Sarah J. September 18, 2015
So, so smart!
Maria September 17, 2015
There ist at least one app telling you what to cook based on your fridge.
amysarah September 17, 2015
"Breathy" exists: This is the kind of thing you learn when home sick, compelled to watch a Shark Tank marathon.
Tammy September 17, 2015
An app called "Order Ahead" does what Caffeinate describes, but with Philz coffee in the SF Bay area.
AntoniaJames September 17, 2015
So many good ideas! "The Spice" currently exists on my phone .- in a Notes file called "SPICE INVENTORY," divided into "Herbs," "Ground Spices," "Whole Spices," and "Other" (Persian limes, crystallized ginger, vanilla beans, etc.). It's so helpful, and best of all, anyone with a phone with a note-keeping app already has it!
I have a similar note for the contents of my freezer, with dates. Very helpful for planning meals and make-ahead projects every week. It will become indispensable in the coming months as I plan and prepare more freezer-assisted make-ahead meals and doughs for holiday baking. ;o)