We're searching for food hacks a lot more than we were in 2011 (the chart below shows the number of Google searches for "hacks" in the food and drink category over the last five years), but judging from the "hacks" listed above, we must be having a much harder time finding them.
The definition of "hack" is confused, at best, utterly polluted and completely disheveled at worst. We've overused it and dragged it through the mud. And we at Food52 are as guilty as the rest; we've probably driven you hack crazy. (Oh, look: We have a whole topic page dedicated to kitchen hacks—they'll change your life!; home hacks, too.) Media companies see that people are searching for hacks and so, in order to benefit from the search frequency, they (I mean, we) title more and more articles with the word. It's a vicious, chicken-or-egg cycle: You, searchers, stop looking for hacks; we, media companies, will stop claiming that everything under the sky is one—and consequently making it even harder to find any at all. ...Deal?
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We've taken something fun and potentially helpful and turned it into something annoying and worthy of a big eye roll.
Let's agree on what good hacks should do: Hacks should solve (or purport to solve) a tangible problem, to make the task at hand either possible or easier. Hacks are creative for the purpose of utility and resourcefulness. Hacks don't promise to transform your state of being; they promise to make a fix in the moment.
Hacks are often a way of cutting through an apparently complex system with a really simple, non-obvious fix.
Danny O'Brien, The Father of Life Hacks
But refusing to bring dip to a tailgate? Not a hack. A hack shouldn't be a catch-all term for a tip or a trick or a piece of advice. Because it just leaves us scratching our heads, looking for a smart solution and instead finding an extremely hard way to eat an apple that's sure to leave a mess and make life stickier, not easier.
None of this addresses the question of whether hacks—true or false—even function. Can you refuse to make the dip at a tailgate? Can an apple-peanut butter Tower of Pisa defy the laws of physics? That's an issue for another time.
See what other Food52 readers are saying.