Nerd Alert: 2015's Best Geeky Food Articles

December 24, 2015

We're into learning about food. Like waaay into it. We love finding out what goes into food, what comes out of it, and how it works in this mad, mad world. We flip out about science-y food books and spend hours pouring over books and link after link after link to make the perfect SCOBY.

Here are some of the stories that had us nerding out in 2015.

Photo by Mark Weinberg
  • After reading this article, I, a firm tea-drinker, backed away very slowly from my coffee-drinking family.
  • We heard the story of San Francisco’s Boudin Bakery and the 166-year-old wild yeast starter that has gone into every loaf of their signature sourdough since 1849.
  • The New Yorker followed Prof. Charles Spence's studies of our multi-sensory experiences with food—essentially how sound, appearance, and texture affect our perceptions of taste.
  • Gizmodo told you everything you ever wanted (and plenty you probably didn't want) to know about lab-grown burgers.
  • Sweet, salty, bitter, sour, umami... oleogustus?
  • Bonus: All things Kenji.

What did we miss?! Tell us about your favorite food-nerd stories of 2015!

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • patricia gadsby
    patricia gadsby
  • Joy
  • Kaz
  • Sharon
  • Lisa
Gabi Benedit

Written by: Gabi Benedit

domestic dilettante.


patricia G. December 27, 2015
Gastropod: witty, nerdy, in the best way. Go listen.
Joy December 26, 2015
People, people, people! Way too much hullabaloo being made about some simple words. The fact that there are those who truly are offended by an innocent food article that has nothing but fun behind it (not MAKING FUN OF) says a lot about our wimpy society. And it is truly *your* issue if you are offended by the use of those words and not any fault of the author. Put on your "Big Girl" pants, get over it, and move on. You waste so much time getting your little feelings hurt on your behalf or someone else's behalf!
Sharon December 26, 2015
Joy, hurt feelings, no. I just cannot believe that educated people believe that they just can make up new definitions and everyone will accept them. If anything, I am amused.

Joy, it is not an "issue". None of the dictionaries support any of this. Please prove me wrong.

I think that bloggers should use standard definitions to reach the greatest number of people (versus creating secret definitions that only a few accept). The readers have spoken. The new definitions really suck.

Why is a web site (that relies on traffic) fighting the readers?

Get over it, it is a really bad blog. Get some dictionaries, some really good editors and move on.

Bonnie December 27, 2015
Joy, I agree with you completely! what in the world is all the fuss about?
people need to be concerned with 'real' issues.
Kaz December 26, 2015
About the actual post - love it! Thanks Gabi! Guess I must be a bit of a food nerd because I love reading all these little scientific bits. Also, I'm a bit of a travel geek - and LOVE your Cookies of the World post! Will have to check out a few...
Kaz December 26, 2015
Sharon I believe your definition of Geek is the noun. This blog writer has used the verb definition: to be overexcited about a specialized subject or activity, or to talk about it with excessive enthusiasm.

Personally I couldn't think of a better word to use here!

Almost any word can have negative connotations in this ever-increasing slang society. Lets just take the author at face value - I think we all know what she meant!

When I viewed this article the word spaz had been removed. Wise choice - I too believe that to be offensive. We definitely need to be sensitive towards those people in our society who suffer from these sad disabilities.
Sharon December 26, 2015
Disabilities are sad? Really? How patronizing. I see disabilities as empowering.

Ok, let's use the verb, "geek out". Sadly, you only wrote part of the definition. from the Urban Dictionary, Geek out - "to become immediately obsessive or enthralled in a subject that is considered by many to be geek-favorable."

ahhh... Geek-favorable things (e.g., Star Wars, cosplay, python, numpy, distributed processing, simulated annealing, machine learning). As I said, geeks like food that is convenient. They understand raspberry pi (I am not sure that you do or can program one), I do not expect most of my geek friends to know anything about raspberries (unless they are making weiss beer :-))

I am geek and know about all of above.

I do not recall ever attending a tech conference and seeing a demonstration about food (except the demos using 3D-printers and chocolate, not impressed).

Nutritionists, food scientists totally rock and unlike the writers and commenters on FOOD52, they can talk the talk and walk the walk.

Sorry Kaz, you are not a geek.

Seriously, I do not want most geeks making decisions about food but the boys who have jumped recently into the world of food and nutrition (considered by many to be a women's topics (like home economics) need to demonstrate that the topic is, well, manly. Instead of using the correct terms and definitions from the science of food (e.g., all of the peer-reviewed research knowledge from food scientists, food chemists and nutritionists), the new generation of men playing with food (poorly) need to "geek" it out.

Kaz, you are the sad one.
Kaz December 26, 2015
In my opinion, some of your definitions are a little old fashioned - times move on!

A NERD is a person who is single-minded or accomplished in scientific or technical pursuits but is felt to be socially inept. Many bloggers are sure NERDS. You can just tell your keyboard all about it, and hit publish - no need to physically talk to a single person! And the fact that here we are - on our Christmas break, sitting at the computer reading some technical food post rather than engaging with friends and family seems to suggest that all of us commenters are actually nerds. A nerd is also a person commonly referred to as 'boring' - due to their single-mindedness. This post would certainly be boring to anyone who is not a 'foodie' like me. Therefore I conclude 'NERD' to be an adequate term for this blog post writer to refer to.

This post contains approximately 267 words. To pick out two and spend a few paragraphs critiquing them, with no mention of the other 265, I find to be quite single-minded and boring. A job for real nerds, yeah? (I know, I'm even worse than the rest of you!)
Sharon December 26, 2015

True, it is not tweet-length. I am ok about this.

Socially inept people live in their own world. Why would they blog? Seriously, nerds do not care what other people think.

I would not refer to you as a nerd, I kinda think of you as bit delusional. Imagine, someone believing that they can snap their fingers and change the definition of a word.

I know nerds, you, my friend, are not a nerd. Just look up the definition.
Sharon December 26, 2015
I usually ignore bad blog articles but the SPAZ term really set me off.
For those who think that we are too sensitive, I dare you to find a definition of it that does not start with the term "offensive" or does not describe it in this way.

Nerd - nerd refers to a person who is highly intellectual but socially inadequate. Nothing about article strikes me as a description of the actions of socially inadequate people. Nerds would not post it to a blog, they would keep it among themselves.

Geek - geek is related to the tech industry (video games, computers, etc). Geeks eat convenience food because they are way too involved with work. Google has a free cafeteria for their employees because, well, geeks need convenience.

Some geeks are into cooking and the science of food - here is an old standard (I have the book) ( The author works in the tech industry, a true geek.

The term nerd is pejorative, the term geek has a more positive image. Combining them in an article tells me that the writer is a bit clueless.

Combined with the SPAZ comment, I would say that this article is a FAIL.
Lisa December 26, 2015
Oh No!!! Better remove Nerd and Geeky then.. I am sure those offend someone !!! Eyes Rolling!!!
M December 26, 2015
I;m with Judith. Spaz, retard etc. are words that need to be retired to a sad corner of history.
Judith V. December 26, 2015
As a retired special ed teacher, your use of the word "SPAZ" made me wince. Spaztic used to be a derogatory term for someone with tics or involuntary muscle movements. For example, someone with Parkinson's or MS, etc.
I can't imagine you using the word if you realized it's origins.
Lisa December 26, 2015
People are too sensitive.. Could just be short for muscle spasms, not everything is derogatory.. Maybe that is just your mind set, that is sad....
WendieW December 26, 2015
Judith, I'm so glad you took the words right out of my mouth!
WendieW December 26, 2015
Lisa, sorry, it is derogatory.
Sharon December 26, 2015
Agree with Judith and Wendie. Term is so derogatory that I cannot recall the last time I have seen it. Oh, by the way, there are other word problems with this piece (will post this separately).
Gabi B. December 26, 2015
You are absolutely right—I was not aware of the term's origin. I apologize and thank you so much for bringing my attention to this matter. It was certainly not my intention to cause discomfort or harm. I've made the appropriate change. Best wishes and a lovely new year to all.