When your city never sleeps, you have a lot of time to 'gram.

Mike Pomranz
July 18, 2018

Created by Crimson Hexagon

New York is known as “the city that never sleeps,” and a walk around town quickly explains why: The bars stay open late, the coffee shops open early, and plenty of 24-hour eateries are happy to bridge the gap. But consumer insights firm Crimson Hexagon wanted to see if they could really pinpoint not just what New Yorkers were eating and drinking, but where and when. The result is its interactive graphic Bites of the Big Apple which uses Instagram data to let us watch what a 24-hour day of dining (or at least food and drink Instagramming) looks like in NYC In real time.

“From sushi in Manhattan to burgers in Brooklyn, explore what people are eating and drinking around the clock, and where they’re having it,” Crimson Hexagon explains before users are thrown into an interactive interface that is part map and part clock. To start, you’ll want to hone in on the part of New York City’s five boroughs that interests you most. Then, clicking on the play or pause button will let the day unfold before your eyes. From there, one of 20 icons (beer, coffee, cake, etc.) will begin to pop up all over the map, corresponding to Instagram hashtags as they were used in real time during a week in May. You can even click through on the icons to reach the corresponding Instagram post, as well as select which icons you do and don’t want to see.

“This is the first interactive content piece of this type, and we picked New York because it is a city with such a rich and varied food history and culture,” explained Crimson Hexagon’s CMO Lou Jordano. “At the moment we don't have specific plans to do similar pieces for other cities, but we are certainly open to it. Based on the feedback we've gotten for this piece, we are excited to think about which cities could be next.”

As is often the case with these sorts of social media scraping exercises, the results are more about what people want to Instagram than what New Yorkers are actually eating. For instance, despite staring down McDonald’s Time Square location for a full day, zero burger icons popped up: Someone was definitely in there! Still, foods worth Instagramming tend to be more exciting than what most people are actually eating anyway, and the fact that you can follow the icons through to see the actual spot they were taken at also turns this graphic into more than just an interesting exercise: It can be a useful tool for finding somewhere new to eat and drink as well.

Pro tip: Though the emojis hang around for a bit after popping up, at the hottest Instagram spots, they'll sit even longer as one Instagrammer continues to follow another.  If you’re looking to map out your own Instagram food tour of New York, that’s one way to do it.