'Foodie' Had A Different Connotation When Gael Greene Coined The Term

In 1980, Gael Greene — then columnist for New York Magazine — was the first to use the term "foodie" in a restaurant review and since then, the term has elicited mixed feelings, says Eater. "When I said it, it was a wonderful thing to be," Greene said in a 2012 interview, according to the same article.

A few years later, the term "foodie" hit a nerve when Paul Levy and co-author Ann Barr used it in their 1984 book "The Official Foodie Handbook," per The Guardian. At the time, it was a fun and new concept that replaced the term "gourmet." Paul Levy wrote with gusto on what he thought of as foodies – "the new sect which elevates all food to a sacrament," according to Australian Food Timeline.

Four decades later, the term has morphed into something not altogether wonderful. By 2012, Gael Greene noted that it had become a "toxic" word on everyone's list for food writing (via Eater). Hungry Forever explains that the term may be disliked because "everyone is a 'foodie' these days," while The New Republic describes it as "the full commercialization" of the food culture, and it's tough to disagree. 

Foodie is a complicated term

Now, in 2022, if you search #foodie on Instagram, there are over 225 million posts associated with the term. But what evil can be said of food hobbyists? People who travel for an acclaimed meal or bring local restaurants national acclaim? Can that be bad? Glutto Digest makes a clear distinction between foodie and food lover. A foodie will dedicate a vacation to tasting the best food in the region, while a food lover is someone who loves food, but may not go to great lengths to get it.  

First We Feast asked celebrity chefs and food writers what they thought the term meant in a 2013 interview. Their answers ranged from "absolutely nothing" to "someone who loves food" but most echoed "please don't call me one." Whether a foodie is someone who eats as many hamburgers as they can in a lifetime or will shun all hamburgers until they can consume the Michelin star-rated one on their list (via Insider), the term "foodie" is here to stay.