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St. Patrick's Day: Food for Thought

Monday, March 01, 2010

Posted by Katrina Shonbeck, Google CPG Account Planner

We celebrate St. Patrick’s Day on March 17th to honor the death of the Patron Saint of Ireland, who, ironically, wasn’t even Irish! When he was 16-years-old, Patrick was kidnapped from his home in England and spent over 10 years in Ireland as a shepherd slave. After he escaped Ireland, he joined the priesthood and made it his life’s mission to bring Catholicism to the Irish people. Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day dates back to the Middle Ages when Irish Catholics would close shop and honor the feast of St. Patrick. This feast represented the one day they could break Lent. Needless to say, the custom really took off!

So what’s on the feast menu? (See Source [i])

Irish Recipes:
The week of St. Patrick’s Day, American consumers are connecting to this cultural phenomenon by searching for Irish recipes online. While many will be looking for corned beef and cabbage, those wanting a more authentic Irish meal may choose boxty (a traditional potato dish) or perhaps boiled bacon.

Corned beef and Cabbage:
Corned beef and cabbage is actually an Irish-American dish. In the mid-1800s, the Irish were some of the poorest immigrants in America. They could afford meat, but only once per week. So, they would buy brisket, the cheapest cut of meat, and cabbage, the cheapest vegetable, and that was their special meal. Over time, their special meal started to be associated with their special day, St. Patrick’s Day. But just because it's been around for over 200 years doesn't mean it's old news. In fact, from 2008 to 2009, we saw a 29% increase in the number of searches on "corned beef and cabbage."[i]

Irish Soda Bread:
What distinguishes soda bread from most other breads is the fact that it uses baking soda rather than yeast as its leavening ingredient. “Soda breads are made using either wholemeal or white flour. In Northern Ireland the wholemeal variety is known as ‘wheaten bread’ and normally sweetened, while the term ‘soda bread’ is restricted to the white savoury form normally served fried. The two major shapes are the loaf and the ‘griddle cake’, or farl in Northern Ireland.”[ii] While this dish may be short on yeast it's high on interest, at least during St. Patrick's Day. 15% more searches on "Irish soda bread" occurred in 2009 than the year prior.[i]

How Marketers Can Capitalize On This Trend:
1. Website Content:
Ensure recipe content features Irish cuisine if you offer recipes on your website.
Feature holiday-themed merchandise on your homepage (e.g. paper towels with shamrocks)
2. Google Paid Search:
Recipes: Capture consumer interest in Irish recipes by bidding on keywords related general Irish cooking and the specific recipes you're featuring on your website.
3. Google Content Network:
Recipes: Increase your reach by creating contextually targeted campaigns around Irish recipes.
Merchandise: Drive more awareness of your holiday-themed merchandise by creating a St. Patrick's Day contextually targeted campaign.

Whether you’re truly Irish, or just Irish in spirit, we hope you enjoy your St. Patrick’s Day! Slàinte!


[i] Google Insights for Search. Retrieved February 26, 2010.

[ii], “Soda Bread.” Retrieved February 16, 2010.