American Rubs
American Rubs is a series of BBQ dry rub mixes and a data representation project using taste to experience data. American Rubs explores US Census data about ethnic demographics in New York City buroughs by assigning each group a spice and using their percentage in the population to determine the proportions for each mix.

The data for this project comes from the US Census Bureau's 2011 American Community Survey's 3 Year estimates.

Compiling the data proved to be the hardest part of this project because of the way that the US Census handles ethnicity, race, and ancestry. We had to compile data from three data sets to reach a figure close to the total population of each borough. In the end, our data set included ancestries, ethnicities, and race categories when no ancestry was reported. A full description of the process is summarized here.

The BBQ dry rub mix is a food item I have long equated with middle America and something that seems ubiquitous with "American" food. What could be more American than a dry rub mix based on US Census data?

I first surveyed a number of popular dry rub mix recipes from different regions in the US to get a sense for the range of ingredients used as well as the proportions used.

I then researched each group's cuisine and assigned a spice that is used frequently in that cuisine with an eye on the population percentage. Each group 2% or higher in the population was given an ingredient and the actual percentage was used as the proportion of grams that went into each borough's mix.

Mixes made at this time: New York City, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, Staten Island, Bronx

New York City is just the start. I plan to refine the process, expand to other US Cities and neighborhoods, and am looking into making them available commercially.

*If you work with US Census data and am interested in this project, please contact me. I would be interested in getting further analytical help with the data set.

Concept & Art: Hanna Kang-Brown
Data Analysis, Posters: Jacob Kang-Brown
Spices from Kalustyan's.
Inspired by the Open Data Cooking Workshop Helsinki and the Cupcakes Index by fellow ITP student, Annelie Berner

Special Thanks to Annelie Berner, Ann Chen,Sarah Hallacher.

Class: Data Representation with Jer Thorp, ITP Fall 2012

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American Rubs: "Queens" Taste Feedback from Hanna Kang-Brown on Vimeo.