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This article was published on October 28, 2011

Punchfork turns bland recipes into a social trending food network

Punchfork turns bland recipes into a social trending food network
Drew Olanoff
Story by

Drew Olanoff

Drew Olanoff was The Next Web's West Coast Editor. He coined the phrase "Social Good" and invented the "donation by action" model for onlin Drew Olanoff was The Next Web's West Coast Editor. He coined the phrase "Social Good" and invented the "donation by action" model for online charitable movements. He founded #BlameDrewsCancer. You can follow him on Twitter, Google+, Facebook, or email [email protected]

Recipes aren’t just for mom and grandma anymore. The web has gotten ahold of food and will not let go. Take Gojee for example, it designed a drop-dead gorgeous site that gets you excited about cooking in ways no other cooking blog could.

Punchfork is taking that approach a step further by making recipes a little more social with data, trending content, and search.

What makes Gojee and Punchfork different, is that Gojee is a personal focused recipe site with some sharing features. Punchfork on the other hand focuses on social discovery and tracking trending recipes.

Let there be food

As soon as you sign up, you’ll be shown a homepage with a lot of recipes from all different sources. The display of the recipes is beautifully designed, but it’s the trending nature of the site that will get you interested in what you’re seeing.

Punchfork looks at how often the recipe has been shared, how many people have favorited the recipe, and has a trending algorithm around it that shows you the hottest foods to make. Right now, the site looks at Tweets, Facebook shares, and StumbleUpon views to decide what’s trending.

There are no lack of recipes on Punchfork, which is currently pulling in content from 51 different sites and blogs. Publishers can submit their site for review, but Punchfork decides who makes the cut.

Publishers are shown on a leaderboard tracking their rating average, top rated recipes, and how many recipes they’ve published. Top publishers are shown in order of their rating.

Share your recipes

When I remember my grandmother cooking, she had her recipes stored on index cards in a plastic box. With the internet, that clearly isn’t the case anymore. I imagine that if I could take some of her best recipes and put them on a site like Punchfork, she probably would have been a top contributor. Which leads me to hope that Punchfork can bring in some of the best recipe sites and sharers around, otherwise the content will get stale and people will look elsewhere for their content.

This is a problem that Punchfork may have thought of already, as it has an API that syndicates and distributes top recipes, which can easily lure in the best of the best to share their own.

If you’d like to re-share a recipe you’ve found, there is Google+, Twitter, Facebook, StumbleUpon, and email buttons.

Your recipe sharing contributes to which concoctions are popular and trending on Punchfork.


This is where Punchfork really shines. The search experience is solid on the site, which lets you search for ingredients as well as actual recipes. The ingredient search is something Gojee perfected, and Punchfork isn’t far behind. Once you search for an ingredient like “peanuts”, you’re shown a list of recipes containing them, as well as the ability to sort by Trending, New, or Top Rated.

If you search for ingredients separated by commas, you can find the perfect recipe using all of the items that are your favorite, or that you have at the time.

Unfortunately, the multiple ingredient search isn’t straight forward or explained. I figured it out just by trying.

There’s something missing from this recipe

I was interested to explore how social recipes really could be, but it seems as if Punchfork forgot to finish the job with its site. When visiting someones profile page, you have to click “Favorite Recipes” to see which ones they’ve saved for later. This seems odd, as you would think that the recipes would be displayed as soon as you hit the profile.

That and the fact that you can’t communicate with other members on the site directly by way of direct messaging or comments around a recipe just seems like a missed opportunity for the company. Relying on third-party social networks to engage your users is a really big mistake, as fragmented as they are. Building a brand and community has to happen on your own home base, like Instagram has shown, rather than in bits and pieces on Twitter and Facebook.

Punchfork is a gorgeous site with amazing discovery features. The company should take a few more looks at its user experience and invest in keeping people on its platform, it has an extremely bright future. Hopefully this is something the company is working on. Discovery here is great, but the interaction is non-existent unfortunately.

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