Gastronauts, sharpen your knives, don your finest bibs, and rejoice! The sizzle of steak, the crunch of kale, and the undeniable beauty of butter are but tiny morsels of delight in this sweeping, multi-millennial exploration of the history of food.
A savory feast for the eyes, National Geographic Channel’s Eat: The Story of Food offered gourmands and casual diners alike plenty of delicious content to whet their appetites for the 2014 Thanksgiving holiday. This tasty, six-course miniseries provided a fun, informative look at the foods that fuel the world’s population and offered insight on how they shaped mankind. With episodes dedicated to grains, fish, food revolutionaries, sugar, guilty pleasures, and meat, the series presented a calorie-free taste of the past, present, and future of what we eat.
To serve up a second helping of content, we took foodies and their many varied palates along on a visual narrative journey through the ages via their desktops and tablets. Each episode was accompanied by a veritable smorgasbord of interactive content that was sure to make stomachs rumble by highlighting important milestones in food history. From the first cave dwellers learning how to cook meat with fire to bioengineering the lab-grown beef patty of tomorrow, each topic was explored through multiple eras.
Setting the Table
With so many ways to explore content, you could almost smell the menu through your screen.
The chronological history of what, how, and why we eat was laid out in a grand smorgasbord of original content. Starting in prehistory, each page crept closer to the present day, eventually peering into the future of food.
How much junk food do Americans eat during America's biggest sporting event? What despicable practice drove the early sugar industry? What does it take to grow four ounces of beef? These questions and more were answered via easily-digestible infographics.
Food expert Graham Elliot revealed that Americans eat their weight in burgers each year, Barton Seaver suggested that lab-grown meat could be the food of the future, and other famous foodies served up juicy facts via exclusive video interviews.
Have you ever seen a beef patty nestled between two waffles? How about a bowl filled with tofu cubes? Perhaps you’d prefer to gaze upon the perfect shrimp cocktail. These visual delights and more were waiting in numerous photo galleries showcasing menu items that may not have been featured on the series.
Nuggets of Knowledge
You know what pleases your palate, but you may not know exactly how those delicious morsels are produced, how they’ve changed over time, or what the future may hold for them. There’s something for everyone on this content menu, and Nat Geo generously agreed to pick up the check.
Tons of Tips
How can you make crispier battered fish? What coffee alternative can give you a quick energy boost? What simple trick can keep your hamburger more level during cooking? Bountiful food tips and secrets were waiting to be discovered throughout the experience.
Take a Bite!
Don't have time to explore on your own? This guided tour will give you a taste of what you're missing!
Preparing the Feast
Capturing the natural joy that comes from eating a truly fine meal was important for this project, so the site was filled with colorful ingredients that delighted the eyes and ears of visiting foodies.
Lush, mouth-watering photography gave viewers the chance to gawk at delicious and unusual foods, such as a bacon cheeseburger nestled between two glazed donuts instead of bread. Exclusive video interviews with food experts including Anna Boiardi, Graham Elliot, and more provided colorful commentary on a wide range of topics, from Americans eating their weight in hamburgers each year to ornate table settings made entirely of sugar. Tying it all together, meticulously-researched text dished out thousands of years of food history laced with fun tips; for example, did you know agitating even the finest wine in an ordinary blender can improve its flavor? Well, now you know…
Quick, fanciful food animations were peppered throughout the site, while multi-planar parallax motion created an enchanting sense of depth so real that morsels of these tantalizing treats looked like they could be plucked right from the screen. An original musical soundtrack and ambient soundscapes helped to create an experience so engrossing that one almost expected to smell a roasting turkey or to catch a whiff of chocolate while exploring each scene. You can see an all-David band recording the music in the video below; click and drag your mouse anywhere in the video window to rotate your view and explore 360 degress of David's luxurious recording studio.
In order to add extra flavor to each episode, we devoured series scripts months before the television premiere and conducted additional research that wound up in our own special sauce. Facebook and Twitter social sharing made it easy to invite anyone to the table, and curated Instagram feeds gave fans the opportunity to have their finest food pics featured on the live site. Although this digital experience was designed as a tasty companion to the television event, it featured enough easily-digestible content to be enjoyed on its own.