So: you've been browsing the web for a few hours and are now starting to feel hungry – we don't blame you - The web is scattered with food- based terms – I'm practically salivating just thinking about it. We've got tasty breadcrumbs just waiting for you to follow them home, cookies hidden away in the cookie jar just out of your grasp, -not to mention that hamburger teasing you in the corner of every mobile website. Without a doubt, designers and developers alike clearly had food on their mind when the web was being weaved.

1. Cookies


Hidden away in the dark deep recesses of your browser (and probably your mum's secret hiding place) you will find a collection of cookies.

On the web, cookies are used to store small pieces of data regarding your interactions with specific websites. Instead of chunky chocolate chips, think chunks of state-based information on your activity – login status, history on the site, products added to your cart, pop-ups enabled, sound on/off and pretty much any data based on your activity that you can think of.

Cookies are extremely useful to web developers. The storage of information on the client side means that the website doesn't need to store data within complex sessions related to your user login. Imagine having to login before the website is able to remember all those products you have added while browsing ASOS – you would lose them on every page! Hence the importance of cookies.

However, I don't want to sugar coat it too much – cookies can be used to track your activity and the really 'clever cookies' can pass your data between sites – yes it's true that's why you've been seeing all those fat loss ads recently. Advertising networks use long-term tracking to know that you have been viewing the latest cookie selection from Arnott's and therefore, knows exactly what products would appeal to you and will show you these ads across other sites.
Despite the privacy concerns of long term cookie tracking there's no escaping the fact that the functions gained on the web are fantastic #nomnomnom – give me ALL the cookies.

2. Hamburger


Over the last few years, I expect that you would have seen a simple icon of three black lines on your mobile device hovering the top right or left corner - but did you know its name? This little stack of hunger-busting goodness is called the Hamburger – it's pretty easy to see why. Some web food vigilantes have tried to coin 'The Hotdog' but personally I prefer the Hamburger – a major score for the burger chains out there!

The iconography goes way back to the 80's with the Xerox "Star" personal workstation creating the symbol as a "container" for contextual menu choices where the lines represented the resulting menu list. The simplicity and clarity of the icons function and design has given it a new-found presence in the mobile/tablet scene, as it provides a compact access point for that full site menu and it is often used in a responsive website for this very reason. Navigation is exceptionally important in any website so if you need more tips check out our 10 steps for better website navigation.

3. Breadcrumbs


So you've been searching Google and somehow found yourself in a deep dark website forest - much like Hansel and Gretel (almost).

You're completely lost! How do you get back to somewhere safe to home!?

Before you panic - most websites will have contextual indicators that will help you find your way back. These are just text links placed in a logical structure representing the page location within the hierarchy of the website and are commonly known as 'breadcrumbs'. Each of these breadcrumbs are linked to parent sections that will allow you to quickly and easily step back to receding sections from the current page.

E.g. Home >> Food >> Bread >> Crumbs

We know what you're thinking. Breadcrumbs aren't as tasty as cookies but they are useful – if they can help Hansel & Gretel then they can help you too. Don't forget context is everything.

4. Honeypot


It's sweet and delicious and everyone/thing wants to get their hands in for a taste but on the web the honeypot is used as bait to catch the elusive spam bots that are forever scrawling sites and entering data into every form field possible.

Spam bots tend to ignore CSS, so if a form field is hidden with CSS, it's likely that the spam bot will still submit data for that field. When Captcha is not used we need to create a honeypot field that is left blank and hidden from humans but if those nasty spam bots enter data there, they give themselves away and we ignore the submission.

5. Toaster


So technically it's not quite food itself but a toaster is your morning's most useful appliance - perhaps second only to the coffee machine.

The toaster is a new term for containers of content that 'pop' up from the base of your website. The well-known content sharing service AddThis provides a 'Recommended Content Toaster' which conveniently provides additional content that the user may be interested in. It's reasonably unobtrusive and we expect to see more functionality similar to this in the future.

More food in the IT world

It's not just web developers and designers that have this obsession with food related terminology. There are a score of programs, tools and releases named after food. Here's just a few:

Android versions

All versions of android are named after sweets. Think Cupcake, Donut, Eclair, Froyo (short for "frozen yogurt"), Gingerbread, Honeycomb, Ice Cream Sandwich, Jelly Bean and KitKat. Looking forward to seeing this delicious trend continue.



Java may be used as a term for coffee beans produced on the Indonesian island of Java but in the web world it's more commonly known for the famous object orientated programming language. Java is used to power Minecraft and what would I do without that?!


A programming language where programs are designed to look like cooking recipes. One of the key design principles according to Chef is that recipes should not only generate valid output, but should be easy to prepare and taste delicious!


With food being such a crucial part of life, it's no wonder it makes its way into language and terminology even in spaces devoid of organic matter such as the interwebs. With no rules, rhyme or reason around naming conventions for the comparatively-new digital industry, it's no surprise that they decided to get creative with some of the jargon, and we have to admit that it really is a lot more fun.

Speaking of all this food is making me hungry. Hamburgers anyone?

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