Food.com is Partying Like It’s 1999
We’re celebrating our 15th birthday with a look back at our favorite “then and now” moments from 1999 and 2014. Read on for fun food trends, unforgettable pop culture moments and more »
There was a time when Y2K incited fear, frozen yogurt was king and nobody “Googled” anything. The year? 1999.
And what a year: Pluto was still a planet and people used pagers. Bill Clinton was president, piercings and coffeehouses were the norm, and Cosmopolitan cocktails were cool (thanks, Sex and the City). The next generation of pop culture emerged, ushering in Britney, Beyoncé, Christina and JT, as well as The Matrix, American Pie and Harry Potter series. Our current digital age was just beginning.
But for us, 1999 was bigger than all of that. It was the year Food.com — then RecipeZaar — was launched by two food-loving technologists. And what can we say? Our birthday has got us gushy and nostalgic. To celebrate, we decided to take a look back and marvel at all of the amazing changes that have happened since we launched.
So put on Prince’s trademark song (because you know you want to) and walk with us down memory lane.
Then: Time magazine declares the low-carb diet an “it” phenomenon on its November cover.
Now: While low-carb continues to go strong, gluten-free and Paleo diets are the headlines of 2014.
Then: Google, founded a year earlier by Larry Page and Sergey Brin as Google! Beta, tries unsuccessfully to sell itself to Excite.com for $1 million.
Now: Google is a multiplatform, worldwide company employing more than 47,000 people with an estimated worth of $167+ billion.
Then: Gardenburger and blackened anything are hot, but Asian fusion takes the top spot.
Now: Creative mash-ups take the place of fusion, with innovations like the Cronut and ramen burger sparking nationwide trends.
Then: Wolfgang Puck has restaurants across the nation, and Emeril’s TV show celebrates its first anniversary, but it’s years before chefs cultivate celebrity status.
Now: The term “celeb chef” is de rigueur. From Rachael Ray to Gordon Ramsay, being a prominent cook is enough to warrant reality TV shows, lines of cookware, magazines—even namesake cruises.
Then: MySpace launches, overtaking Friendster, the original networking site, and spawns “social networking” as a thing.
Now: With MySpace relegated to the social media dustbin (though it remains semi-popular in the music industry), Facebook—launched in 2004—is the largest online social network with more than 1.1 billion worldwide users.
Then: Yoplait introduces Go-Gurt, the first-ever yogurt in a tube designed to make yogurt snackable.
Now: Greek yogurt dominates shelves and headlines. In 2013 alone, Americans spent upward of $1.6 billion on the tangy protein-rich stuff—a 50 percent increase over the year before.
Then: BlackBerry introduces its first device, the 850, an email pager.
Now: Smartphones dominate the market. Nearly 51 percent of smartphone sales go to Apple’s iPhone. Its latest release, the 5S, even uses fingerprint identity technology.
Then: It’s a great year for TV: The Sopranos, The West Wing, SpongeBobSquarePants and Good Eats all debut, while Jon Stewart takes over for Craig Kilborn on The Daily Show.
Now: SpongeBob and The Daily Show are still on-air and are as popular as ever. While The West Wing and The Sopranos are long over, their imprint lives on with new addictive dramas featuring conflicted lead characters, like Scandal and House of Cards.
Then: Starbucks premieres Joe Magazine in partnership with Time Inc. It lasts three issues. Starbucks goes back to what it knows best and buys Tazo Tea.
Now: Starbucks stays out of the publishing business but expands its reach worldwide, growing from about 2,500 stores in 1999 to roughly 18,000 today.
Then: Mainstream cinema hits a high note at the box office with American Beauty, The Matrix, The Blair Witch Project, American Pie, Fight Club, Office Space, Star Wars: Episode 1 and Austin Powers.
Now: After years of dwindling sales at theaters, movies pique the interest of America once again. The 86th Academy Awards, hosted by Ellen DeGeneres, are the most popular in 10 years, with 43 million viewers and roughly 3 million people tweeting about it.
Then: Martha Stewart makes home cooking and dinner parties cool again. Proof: Her company (MSLO) goes public on the NYSE and takes over a palatial space in Manhattan’s Starrett Lehigh Building.
Now: Everyone can be a Martha, with Pinterest and blogs galore allowing people to share, swap and boast about their latest recipes. While great for inspiration, MSLO has taken a big hit and is forced to downsize its staff and office space.
Then: Mixologists are a thing, and so are fussy, fruity cocktails. The Cosmopolitan is queen bee, doing what 1999 drinks do best: hide the taste of alcohol.
Now: Bargoers are bored with flavored booze and fancy drinks. The focus is on bespoke cocktails that feature high-quality ingredients and locally made spirits. Whiskey and tequila stake a comeback.
Then: Food.com, the “home of the home cook,” kicks off with 5,000 recipes and several hundred members.
Now: Food.com is 3.2 million members strong and at 497,000 recipes and counting. And we’ve only just begun!
Photos courtesy of (clockwise, from top left): BooDi, Ralph Daily, Arina Habich and PlanoMUG.