One need not be an astute student of culture and human nature to guess why interest in kale peaks in January of each year. Naturally, that’s the month when we resolve to eat more healthfully. That particular superfood, sad to say, is wilting—at least in terms of the public’s interest. As measured by web searches in the U.S., interest in kale hit its apex in January 2014 and has dropped steadily every year after. It is no coincidence that “juicing” also hit its peak in web searches that very month!
Comparing interest in kale vs. chia seeds, the latter also saw a peak in 2014—yes, in January, too. But interest in chia seeds actually grew in 2017 and has continued to increase so far this year, while kale’s downtrend continued through most of 2017 before recently seeing a very slight uptick (January, remember).
Now, consider public interest in dark chocolate. Unsurprisingly, search frequency jumps each year around both December and February. For dark chocolate, though, U.S. web searches hit their peak in December 2017 and may well surpass that level this month.
Why the difference? Kale has to compete with the next superfood touted in lifestyle and health websites, magazines, and TV shows. Dark chocolate, though, is a crowd pleaser that can be used in a variety of products. It has also received an added boost in the form of a steady stream of positive health headlines: In the last few years, numerous studies have suggested a link between compounds found in cocoa and cardiovascular and mental health. The studies are cautious, usually pointing out that any health benefits would be canceled out if people self-prescribe a daily dark chocolate bar.
The message people hear, however, is that dark chocolate is a less-guilty pleasure. That perception has stuck, and it will likely continue to support worldwide cocoa demand for years to come.
But if you choose to give someone special a heart-shaped box of kale this Valentine’s Day, let us know how it goes.
Dark chocolate vs. kale, relative search volume in the U.S.
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