In Regards to Regalement...

Infogroup is dedicated to providing insightful information that helps marketers better understand their customers as described by big data. In an ongoing series of insight studies, Infogroup has authored a new study that answers the question, “Where do Foodies live?”

The first part of this question requires defining what exactly is meant by “Foodie”. Infogroup looked for answers and came up with two different ways people can act that identifies someone who loves great food: eating in and dining out. Each of these were split into 3 measures that could identify different aspects of the supply and demand that each of the “Foodie” markets represent, leading to six total measures.

Eating In Indicators:

  1. TargetReady Cooking For Fun Model1: The average score by MSA (Metropolitan Statistical Area)2
  2. High End/Specialty/Organic Grocers3 Per 10K4
  3. Percentage5 of Grocers that are High End/Specialty/Organic

Dining Out Indicators:

  1. Propensity to Eat at Fine Dining and Other Restaurants6 (Not Fast Food or Family Dining Chains) Model: The average score by MSA
  2. Single Location Restaurants Per 10K
  3. Percentage of Restaurants7 that are Single Location

These six measures were each ranked from 1-381 by Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSAi), the 6 ranks were added together to determine, as the Iron Chef would say, “who’s cuisine reigned supreme”8. So, a city that was number 1 in every category would get a “foodie score” of 6. Ties were given a half point each; i.e., a tie for 10th place gets a rank of 10.5 for both cities.

1 This model predicts the likelihood that a household cooks for fun at least once a week.
2 Metropolitan Statistical Area—A Core Based Statistical Area associated with at least one urban cluster that has a population of at least 50,000. The Metropolitan Statistical Area comprises the Central County or counties containing the core, plus adjacent outlying counties having a high degree of social and economic integration with the central county or counties as measured through commuting.
3 These were defined based on investigating the website marketing campaigns of corporate grocers, those focused on quality over price were classified “High End”, those focused on a particular type of cuisine, i.e. Indian Food, were classified “Specialty”, those focused on organic/local/health food were classified “Organic”. Single location grocers were classified as “High End” if they were located in wealthy neighborhoods.
4 Per 10K is divided by Census 2014 population times 10,000.
5 Percentage being the ratio of High End/Specialty/Organic Grocers over the Total Number Of Grocers.
6 This model predicts the likelihood that a household eats at restaurants at least 4 times a month with at least half of these trips at fine dining or other similar restaurants, as opposed to fast food or family dining chains.
7 Percentage being the ratio of Single Location Restaurants over the Total Number of Restaurants.
8 TM Iron Chef.
9 Based on the percentage of locations in each industry over the total number of businesses in each city.

Foodie Rank by Metropolitan Statistical Area

Top 10 Foodie Cities by 6 Foodie Measures

Closely Related Industries:

To get an idea of what a “Foodie” city looks like, we looked into several types of businesses associated with the "Foodie" score. The top 5 most positively related industries9 to the “Foodie” score are:

  1. Yoga Instructors
  2. Real Estate Management
  3. Graphic Designers
  4. Architects
  5. Website Design Service

The top 5 most negatively related industries to the “Foodie” score are:

  1. Variety Stores
  2. Churches
  3. Automobile Dealers- Used Cars
  4. Tire Dealers-Retail
  5. Automobile Parts & Supplies-Retail-New

TargetReady Models:

There was still one more valuable source of insight to consult: Infogroup’s own TargetReady Models. TargetReady Models are a series of pre-developed categorical models utilizing the consumer data. These models are built using a full array of demographic and psychographic data elements. They are used to predict generic consumer behaviors and attitudes.

The various TargetReady models are built of responses from an external survey. The models are ranked from 9 thru 0. The higher the relative rank, the higher the likelihood that they have any of the desired characteristic (9 = best, 0 = worst).

Since the Cook for Fun TargetReady Model was used in the definition of a Foodie, analysts wondered what other attitudes and behaviors may be related to “Foodies”. This is a list of the most closely positively related TargetReady Models to strong “Foodie” Scores, excluding Cook for Fun since it was used in the model.

  1. Foreign Travel for Vacation: Foreign Travel for Vacation by Plane 2+ times within the past 3 years
  2. Frequent Business Travelers: Flew at least 5 times for business in the past year within continental US
  3. Heavy Online Buyer: Spent more than $800 through internet shopping in the last 12 months
  4. Online Investment Trading: Tracked investments or traded stocks, bonds, or mutual funds online in the past 30 days
  5. Higher Education: Completed any of the following: Bachelor’s degree, Professional school degree, Master’s degree, Doctorate degree
  6. Organic Food: Purchased food labeled Natural or Organic
  7. High Risk/High Return Investors: Invests in any of the following high risk instruments: common stock in any other company, preferred stock in any other company, privately held shares of companies or partnerships, investments in gold, precious metals or gems, other investments (commodities/puts/calls/etc.)
  8. Heavy Investment Trader: Has at least 10 investment transactions per year
  9. Leaning Liberal: Political outlook/affiliation & voting – Person usually identifies himself/herself as somewhat liberal
  10. Online Purchase- Business: Made online purchases for business reasons in the last 30 days

These models indicate that “Foodies” live in cities with young and wealthy residents. Disposable income is not just being spent on food, but on investments, education, and travel. They are also more likely to use the internet for business or financial purposes.

This is a list of the most closely negatively related TargetReady Models to strong “Foodie” Score.

  1. Satellite TV: Households with satellite dish who subscribe to any of the following Satellite TV: DirectTV or Dish Network or Other
  2. All-Terrain Vehicles: Owns or uses a sport ATV or Utility ATV for work or personal use
  3. Do-It-Yourself Auto Maintenance: Do-It-Yourself Auto Maintenance (mufflers, air and oil filters, car/other batteries, shock absorbers/struts, spark plugs, windshield wipers) in the last 12 months
  4. Sports Fans – NASCAR: Attended at least 1 NASCAR race in the past year
  5. Conservative: Political outlook/affiliation & voting – Person usually identifies himself/herself very conservative
  6. Heavy Snack Eaters: Bought at least 5 of various snack products (such as potato chips, candy, or other sweets) 3 or more times in the last 30 days
  7. Onsite Tax Preparation Service: Used services such as H&R, Jackson Hewitt, or similar in the last 12 months
  8. Freshwater Fishing: Participated in Fresh Water Fishing at least once a year
  9. Heavy Frozen Complete Dinner Users: Eats at least 9 frozen dinners in the past 6 months
  10. Dog Products: Purchased any of the following products given that they own a dog as a pet: flea, tick & parasite products for dogs & cats, canned/wet dog food, packaged dry dog food, dog biscuits or treats, in the last 12 months

These models indicate that “Foodies” do not live in cities with a more rural and conservative pension. Cars are more important in the cities that have fewer foodies. Also, those cities that do not have many foodies have more propensity to eat snacks and frozen dinners.


For additional insight, Infogroup profiled each MSA by examining demographic and psychographic features from its consumer database of more than 150 million records and then identified key characteristics from its business database like major employers. All variables for this study were aggregated at the metropolitan level, and the full list includes:

  • Population – U.S. Census population estimates for 2014
  • Marriage Rates - Estimated percentage of households married
  • Home Ownership Rates - Estimated percentage of home owners
  • Home Value - Estimated median home value
  • Income - Estimated median household income
  • TargetReady Models - Average model score representing the region’s attitudes or behaviors

In terms of demographics, the data describes young, affluent, and vibrant urban centers. Higher income, population, and home values are related to better “Foodie” scores. In the other direction, higher homeownership and percentage of the population that is married are related to worse “Foodie” scores.

Top Ten Foodie Cities:

#1 - San Francisco, CA:

Photograph of San Francisco burrito from the podcast site Sparkletack, which uses a Creative Commons license

This city loves food so much that the city’s tourism website includes multiple itinerary suggestions for day long local restaurant toursii. Keep in mind this is a city that includes world famous landmarks such as the Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman’s Warf, and Alcatraz. Strong showings in the top 5 for both measures of grocers and a top 10 finish in the Dining Propensity Model pushed the City by the Bay over the top as this nation’s Top Foodie City. This is further demonstrated in the TargetReady Models, which show a high consumer preference for Specialty Organic Stores. Pleasanton, a small city in the San Francisco MSA is home to the corporate Headquarters of Safeway Inc., one of the largest grocery chains in the nation and one of the largest private employers in the MSA. Being home to arguably the most popular staple of millennial diets, Mission-Style Burritos, tops the San Francisco Area as the number one foodie city like a free side of guaciii.

#2 - Santa Cruz, CA:

Heading less than 100 miles down the coast, Santa Cruz-Watsonville comes in tied for the second Foodie city. Ranked in the top 10 in High End Grocers (both per 10K and percentage), in the Dining Propensity Model, and in the percentage of Single Location Restaurants, Santa-Cruz-Watsonville citizens show passion for both cooking and dining out. Two food related businesses show up among the largest private employers - Safeway and the seasonal employer Dutra Farms. The city of Santa Cruz hosts numerous food festivals, including a Greek Culture and Food Festival, a Fungus Fair focused on mushrooms, and a Mole and Mariachi Festival for those looking for deep, rich flavorsiv. Watsonville also just hosted its 21st annual Strawberry Festivalv.

#2 - Bridgeport, CT:

Tied for the second Foodie city, Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk comes in as the first, but not last, city on the list from the east coast. With top 25 scores in all six indicators, it’s clear that people in the Connecticut Coast really love great food, whether at home or out on the town. Stop & Shop Supermarket is one of the MSA’s largest private employers according to the Infogroup Business Database.

#4 - Barnstable Town, MA:

The largest MSA on Cape Cod is the number 4 Foodie city. Finishing number 1 in the Dining Propensity Model and number 2 in Single Location Restaurants both per 10K and as a percentage of restaurants, it may be fair to call Barnstable Town the dining capital of the country. Two supermarket chains show up as top private employers in the MSA as well - Stop & Shop Supermarket and Shaw’s Supermarkets. TargetReady Models indicate that consumers have a higher than average propensity to be Wine Lovers. Pairing the great local seafood with a glass is a common practice in Barnstable Town.

#5 - Ocean City, NJ:

Continuing on the coastal theme, Ocean City, New Jersey, ranks 5th in terms of Foodie cities. It might be unexpected from the only dry resort in New Jerseyvi, but that is part of the charm of the city with the motto “America’s Greatest Family Resort”vii. The city shows extremely well in every “supply side” calculation - #1 in High End/Specialty/Organic Grocers per 10K, Single Location Restaurants both per 10K and as a percentage, and tied for second in terms of Grocers percentage. MCR Concessions-Morey’s Pier, a seasonal employer, is one of the largest private employers as per Infogroup’s Business database. The TargetReady Suite indicates that Ocean City residents show a high preference for Cooking from Scratch as well as being Wine Lovers, even if they have to go to another town to buy the wine. Tourists may come for a beach day with the kids, but the food will have them staying for a date night with the spouse. A favorite and longest serving sweet treat is salt water taffy candy. It originated in Atlantic City, but Shriver's Salt Water Taffy and Fudge, founded in 1898 by William Shriver, is the oldest business on the Ocean City boardwalkviii.

#6 - Boulder, CO:

The first landlocked city on the list is Boulder at number 6. Boulder seems to be cooking up something special, as it's the only city to finish in the top 5 in all three “eating at home” indicators. Beyond that, Boulder boasts a history of being included on lists like this one and features local chefs’ takes on the “scene” at the tourism page; Boulder is a city that knows how to woo foodiesixAdd in the number 2 rank in the Dining Propensity model, and the reason for the strong showing in the overall Foodie score becomes apparent. With Coors, Anheuser-Busch, and local microbreweriesx, this area has become the largest beer-producing triangle in the worldxi.

#7 - Santa Fe, NM:

Enchiladas and chile rellenos reign high in the 7th ranked foodie city in the nation. Santa Fe is a city known for bringing the heat in the kitchen, and its tourism website declares the city "a foodie paradise”xii. Numerous awards and accolades for the culinary history build Santa Fe’s resume as a “foodie city”, but the city is famous for its local chilesxiiiSanta Fe residents show a high propensity to Cook from Scratch as well, according to TargetReady Models - homemade tamales anyone? Ranks in the top 25 for 5 out of 6 models bring the New Mexican Capital into the top 10 in the nation. The only question left - red or green?

#8 - Trenton, NJ:

The second state capital, Trenton ranks 8th in terms of Foodie cities. It is home of the New Jersey staple Pork Rollxiv (or Taylor Ham, depending on whether you’re from south or north Jersey) and a reminder that being a “foodie” doesn’t necessarily mean expensive, but rather local, novel, and niche. Top 10 ranks in Grocers per 10K and as a percentage, plus the 10th place in the Dining Propensity model get Trenton into the top 10. New Jersey becomes the second state to have 2 cities in the top 10.

#9 - New York City, NY:

The Big Apple shows up as the 9th ranked Foodie city. Top 25 ranks in Grocers per 10K and the Dining Propensity model show that New Yorkers know good food. The TargetReady Suite indicates New Yorkers love Specialty Organic Food Stores, showing that the move toward fresh and local is not just a West Coast phenomenon. Also, a fun fact about this city's restaurant scene is that NYC is home to over 20 Iron Chef owned restaurants, including Bobby Flay’s Gato, Mario Batali’s Del Posto, Marc Forgione’s self-named restaurant, Geoffrey Zakarian’s The Lamb Club, and Alex Guarnaschelli’s Butter Midtown. Could there be any doubt that a city that takes credit for the invention of the American versions now known as hot dogs, hamburgers, pizza, cheesecake, General Tso’s Chicken, and eggs benedict would make a list of the “Foodie” cities?xv

#10 - Santa Rosa, CA:

The largest city in Wine Country rounds out the top 10 Foodie cities. A city that is known as “California’s Cornucopia” is also a major agricultural center with a focus on “farm to table” diningxvi. This focus is reflected in the TargetReady Models as well, with a higher than normal propensity of Santa Rosa residents to shop at Specialty Organic Stores. Three top 10 finishes in Grocers per 10K, Grocers as a percentage, and the Dining Propensity Model give Santa Rosa the pedigree of a top “Foodie” city. Safeway makes a final appearance as a top private employer in the MSA according to Infogroup’s Business Data in Santa Rosa. It’s easy to find the perfect meal to pair with the world famous California wine.

Honorable Mentions:

11. Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA: Foodie Score 177
12. Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH: Foodie Score 178
13. San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles-Arroyo Grande, CA: Foodie Score 181.5
14. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA: Foodie Score 211
15. Napa, CA: Foodie Score 214
16. Bellingham, WA: Foodie Score 222
17. Burlington-South Burlington, VT: Foodie Score 226
18. Norwich-New London, CT: Foodie Score 235.5
19. Charlottesville, VA: Foodie Score 252.5
20. Ann Arbor, MI: Foodie Score Foodie Score 253
21. Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA: Foodie Score 269
22. Ithaca, NY: Foodie Score 277
23. Manchester-Nashua NH: Foodie Score 279.5
24. Wilmington, NC: Foodie Score 287
25. Kahului-Wailuku-Lahaina, HI: Foodie Score 291