Millennials everywhere can finally justify all those overhead photos they just had to snap (and then Instagram) before digging into their food.
Knorr, the powdered soup and seasoning brand owned by Unilever, has developed an AI-powered tool which scans your Instagram feed and then recommends recipes based on your photos. Dubbed Eat Your Feed, the tool uses visual recognition technology to match your food snaps with recipes from Knorr’s database. After you get your recommendations, you can save the recipes or add the ingredients to a digital shopping basket. And if you’re not already on the ‘gram, don’t worry — you can use this short quiz on Knorr’s website to get personalized recipes.
In the spirit of thorough journalism, I decided to give Eat Your Feed a try.
After entering in my Instagram login information, the webpage whirred around a bit before directing me to a page of almost completely nonsensical recipe matches.
First up was a photo I took of burgers & fries (it was actually the Impossible Burger, but I wouldn’t expect Eat Your Feed to know that). I would have expected it to match this to a perhaps another burger recipe, or even a grilling one, but instead I got… chicken and pasta soup?
As I scrolled through my recommendations, some of Eat Your Feed’s logic became clear. Some. For example, a photo I’d posted of some seaside cliffs linked to a recipe for Mussels Meuniere. However, most of the tool’s process was still shrouded in mystery: why did a painting of a cake equate to spinach soup? What linked a photo I took of a cave in Greece to a lemony pasta dish?
Presumably, it was some tag which I didn’t know existed — but Eat Your Feed did. When you allow the tool access to your Instagram, it also gains access to all of your data stored on the platform. It uses AI to scan your captions, locations, and tagged people to try to draw links to their recipe database. A few of these tags are displayed above your matches, which gives you a clue into how the algorithm made its selections. This explains why my photo of the ocean synched up to a mussels dish — both were tagged “Beach.” As to how they categorized both burgers and chicken & pasta soup as “Time” and “United States” is slightly less clear, however, though I suppose I was in America when I ate them?
Those who take the quiz instead of letting Instagram take the wheel have a bit more transparency into their recommendations. I took the 5-question quiz and was suggested recipes that were “Active” and “European” based on my answers. Which makes more sense than pairing cake and spinach soup together because both are purportedly “Swedish.”
One of the tool’s biggest issues lies with Knorr itself. All of the recipes must contain at least one of their ingredients, and since Knorr only makes soup stock cubes and powders, that limits the selection pretty severely.
I couldn’t find a way to save a recipe or add ingredients to an online shopping cart; the only option was to email myself a link to the recipe. In the future, it would be smart for Knorr to partner up with a shoppable recipes platform and a grocery delivery service like Allrecipes/AmazonFresh so they can actually deliver on those promises.
To give Eat Your Feed credit, the tool was gimmicky enough to suck me in in the first place. Plus, I did find myself clicking around other recipes on the site for a minute after I got my personalized meals. However, most of my suggested meals were so laughably off-base that I’m wouldn’t be inclined to make them at home, no matter how much they might remind me of that time I went to the beach two years ago.
So is the tool worth using? In short: no. It gives you almost no utility, but it’s still fun in the way that, say, taking on online quiz about Which Backstreet Boy Is Your Spirit Animal is fun: it’s pretty useless and probably inaccurate, but it’s a great way to waste a few minutes on the internet.
To promote Eat Your Feed, Knorr will open a pop-up restaurant at London’s Jones & Sons on April 11, where diners will be served meals matched to their Instagram feeds. I’ll be sad to miss my four-course meal of various soups and soup-like dishes, but maybe I’ll check in on the ‘gram. And then recreate them at all at home.