The Truth About The Word 'Foodie'

Few people are strangers to the word "foodie," which has definitely become a buzzword in pop culture. In the age of social media, foodies are easily able to share their love for food, whether that's through a photo or video on a blog, Pinterest, or Instagram, where there are nearly 220 million posts under #foodie. 

Because of how widely the term is used, there is no concrete definition as to what a foodie is — it depends on who you ask. This is exemplified by a 2013 article from First We Feast, in which about a dozen food professionals were asked to share their thoughts on the word. These thoughts ranged widely, but it was generally agreed upon that the word first came about to describe someone who enjoys food.

A lot of foodies are self-proclaimed, and they range from people who are deeply interested in Instagrammable, clicks-driven foods to those who enjoy uncovering hidden restaurant gems. According to the Tyler Morning Telegraph, there are several types of foodies, including the DIY Foodie who rarely eats out and instead cooks their own food, as well as the Farmer's Market Foodie, who is big into organic foods. But where exactly did the term "foodie" originate, prior to the era of social media?

Foodie is a pretty controversial word

The meaning of "foodie" has significantly transformed over the years. According to Eater, the term originated in 1980, when it was used by Gael Greene in New York Magazine. At this time, food was often portrayed in the media as gourmet and exclusive, according to The Guardian. Therefore, the new word brought excitement and accessibility to eating and discussing food, allowing everyone to participate no matter their "age, sex, income and social class."

While "foodie" was initially an inviting alternative to words like "gastronome" or "epicure," often perceived as snobby or "elitist," its connotation has since evolved. Now, many people feel that people who call themselves "foodies" do not truly appreciate the nuances of cuisine. Instead, they eat in a performative manner for clout. Eating Real Food highlights how the Urban Dictionary definition of the word changed in the mid-2010s, with one entry defining it as "a dumbed-down term used by corporate marketing forces to infantilize and increase consumerism." As Eater explained, "Somewhere along the way, foodie changed from meaning someone who ascribed importance to the food they ate, to just someone who likes eating."

Despite the fact that many food professionals cringe at the word, the definition of "foodie," per Cambridge Dictionary, is "a person who loves food and is very interested in different types of food." Considering its highly general, debatable meaning and its ubiquity online, it doesn't appear ready to go away anytime soon.