This page you're reading was originally going to be filled with jokes about of those penis-shaped worms colloquially known as "penis fish" that littered a California beach last week. Plans changed when I began typing "P-E-N-I-S-F" in a fresh Google search page. When I reached the "F," the first option on the drop-down list of predictive search topics changed this article from a simple news recap to an investigative hunt. Yes, Google's predictive search function assumed I wanted "penis fish recipes."
According to Google, predictive searches are based on "common and trending" searches that are "relevant to the characters that are entered and also related to your location and previous searches." That last bit about previous searches made me wonder if "penis fish recipes" was a unique prediction Google made just for me. I love to cook and bake. I search "[insert food I will make too salty] recipe" three or four times a week. Maybe my own search habitats skewed the results? So, I asked my wife and a few friends to open a fresh Google search page and type "P-E-N-I-S-F" and report back their predictive search results.
It wasn't just me. Searching the actual keyword doesn't bring up much of anything relevant to the search term besides a short Atlas Obscura article about how penis fish are often served raw "with a savory sauce made from sesame oil or salt" in South Korea, which is technically a recipe. I hope the people who saw the story of the penis fish found it and were pleased with the results.
The search term got popular in early December, which is the same time that the penis fish began their invasion of California, only to quickly perish before making it off the beach. The timing of it implies that there were people from all over the country who saw the penis fish lying dead and flaccid on a beach and thought "what would be the best way to prepare that?." Thanks to the data supplied by Google Trends, we know it was mostly people Washington state, Maryland, Colorado, Missouri, and overwhelmingly in Minnesota. Google Trends is great because it's like peeking into an entire country's browser history.
The conclusion to all this is really more a question: why did so many of you see the dead beached phallic worms and then immediately begin fantasizing about all the ways you'd cook them suckers? I don't think we're going like the answers.
Luis can be found on Twitter and Facebook. Check out his regular contributions to Macaulay Culkin's BunnyEars.com. Check out his "Meditation Minute" segments on the Bunny Ears podcast. And now you can listen to the first episode on Youtube!