Sensationalizing The Sun-Times: On The Lookout For The Next New Thing

Right, so what has the Sun-Times discovered this week? First and foremost, LTHForum. Well, the fact, is, S-T’s audience may very well never have heard of LTH, and given how much Chicago food media we absorb every day, sometimes we lose perspective on what is common knowledge and what’s esoteric. But with 10 million page hits a month, is LTHForum really a niche site? Wait, hold the phone - 10 million a month? That seems improbable. A gross estimate on Quantcast puts it at 5,600 monthly unique visitors. Even if it’s actually 56,000 (an order of magnitude more!), and each person visits once a day (a likely story!), that’s only around 1.7 million hits. But suffice it to say, it’s the most influential food message board in, what, a 700 mile radius? Yes, we’re comfortable with that. And it’s wonderful in almost every way, and hopefully one day, 10 million monthly page hits won’t be pie-in-the-sky.

Okay, moving on to the dual breakthroughs of cheese that isn’t single-slice American and condiments that aren’t ketchup. OMG, artisanal goat cheese and mango chutney! It’s not that these articles aren’t enjoyable and informative, but…we’re definitely ready to move on from beginner to intermediate.

The final two articles worth addressing did, indeed, teach us something new, and played more to the strengths of the Sun-Times food section. The first is about a group that tries ethnic food around Chicago: a mild profile of a local gal with a hankering for good eats and new friends. Certainly parallels what goes on at LTH - maybe putting both articles in this week’s section will create some cross-communication?

The second article is a classic: Lisa Donovan writes about the pink, rose-shaped peppermint cream cheese mint, apparently a staple of Midwestern weddings since time immemorial. Regional culture! We never, ever would have known about this food item if not for this article. Donovan talks about how they’ve fallen deeply out of style, and it’s now much easier to make them oneself than to find them at a bakery (could the closest one really be in Omaha? We hope so). Anyway, if you’re perpetually behind on the new, just stick with the old.

[Photo: America’s favorite new condiment, Sriracha]

Sensationalizing The Sun-Times: On The Lookout For The Next New Thing