Why There Aren’t More Food Emoji to Choose From

The food-emoji approval process is something of a mystery for the lay-texter or tweeter. Here are a few insights.


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You’ve just welcomed the new year by sending everyone you know a celebratory emoji depicting a bottle of bubbly popping its cork (approved as part of Unicode 8.0 in 2015) or two Champagne glasses clinking (approved as part of Unicode 9.0 in 2016). Yet you find yourself perpetually yearning a new emoji, something new and different with which to let your food-nerd flag fly.

Breakfast fans have a bacon emoji, a pancakes emoji and — for those who take it continental — the croissant emoji. But where is the waffle emoji you crave? It’s enough to make you send out an unamused face emoji (approved as part of Unicode 6.0 in 2010)!

The food-emoji approval process is something of a mystery for the lay-texter or tweeter, but in a “brief history of food emoji,” NPR’s The Salt blog provides or steers us toward a few insights. Among them:

— The first food- or drink-related emoji was the steaming cup of coffee (or perhaps it’s tea or some other hot beverage), which was part of Unicode version 4.0, in 2003.

— An emoji is not official unless it has been approved by the Unicode Consortium, which regulates the addition of emoji and their appearance to make sure they work on various devices.

— Texters now have at their fingertips 82 officially approved food-and-drink related emoji (out of about 2,000 emoji, total). (Here’s a list of some popular options.)

— Pizza slices, mugs of beer and glasses of wine are among the most popular emoji to Tweet, with millions sent and more following, according to this cool real-time Twitter emoji tracker.

— While lots of ethnic foods remain absent from emoji-land, Japanee foods are pretty well represented. You’ve got your sushi, your ramen, your rice dishes. That may have something to do with the fact that emoji originated in Japan.

— Part of the difficulty in creating new emoji is that they have to be simple and clear and instantly iconic. “There’s no text to help people understand whether that’s a chestnut or an acorn, and space, color gradients and shading are all restricted, so making food look representative and appetizing is tricky,” The Salt explains.

— You are not the only one yearning for more: 75 percent of U.S. consumers say they’d like to have more emoji choices, The Salt reports, citing a report from the messaging platform Emogi. “People want stronger emoji options across categories including food,” Alexis Berger, Emogi’s chief strategy officer, told the NPR blog, “not just a coffee emoji, but specific drinks, not just food emoji, but specific restaurants or dishes.”

Count us among them.

Related Links:

Food Network Staffer Diary: I Ate Only Foods I Discovered on Instagram

Old-Fashioned Soda Fountains from Coast to Coast

Macaroon vs. Macaron: Two Very Different Cookies With a Linked Past

Photo: iStock

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