As the online food writer for ABC News-“Good Morning America” and a culinary school graduate, I suppose it’s safe to say I’m a “foodie” (no matter how much I might dislike the word). I’m also an active New York City dater, so when I started hearing more and more about dating sites that cater to people with a big interest level in food and restaurants, I became curious.
But it seemed inadequate just to tell readers the sites existed, so, despite not being online dating’s biggest fan, I signed up for three foodie sites to survey the scene. Anything for the readers.
Spoiler alert: I’m still single, after many messages and three dates. But I came away with observations about each service that can help better inform if you’d like to try them, too. Read on to hear my experiences with HowAboutWe, HiDine and SamePlate.
Serious Eats recently announced its partnership with HowAboutWe, where members suggest date ideas as a way to connect. Serious Eats positioned the partnership as a way to get the site’s single readers to “offline” with dates like “tacos and a spin around the Bronx zoo” or “a crawl of the essential dumplings of Flushing,” both of which sound like pretty great activities to me. I knew that Eater, Daily Meal and New York magazine also had similar partnerships to connect their like-minded readers, so I figured I’d check them all out to see how they differed.
Turns out they don’t. If you go to the landing pages for each service, they are literally identical.
Brian Schechter, HowAboutWe’s co-founder and co-CEO, sees no problem in this. “We’re not building different websites for any of them. That’s the idea,” Schechter said. “They’re cobranded partnerships where we are powering the dating experiences for those different publishers. If you’re an Eater person you’re not like, ‘Oh, no, I want to go out with someone different from a Serious Eats person.”
Michael Silberman, the general manager of digital media for NY mag who brokered the deal between HowAboutWe and the magazine, agrees with Schechter.
“It would be silly for us to limit you just to the folks who have signed up for NY mag since one of the general features of dating sites is obviously the more people that are in the network, than the better chance you have of finding somebody you’re interested in meeting,” he explained. “If we just restricted it to the NY mag originated members, then that would obviously restrict the pool. That’s by design.”
HowAboutWe, founded in 2010, definitely has the volume with more than 2.5 million users (though the company would not tell me how many of those were active or a part of their “Couples” program, which sets up dates for people to “stay in love,” as they like to say).
It’s a valid point, but rather than see other readers of Serious Eats, Eater, etc., which is the reason I signed up and went to that branded landing page, I see everyone in my area on HowAboutWe. And not even only the ones who are particularly interested in food. No, some of the date suggestions on the home pages were prank calling Oprah, seeing a Mets or Yankees game or going dancing. I signed up for Flushing dumpling dates. Not dancing. (Which, for the record, I do also like. I’d actually also be down to prank call Oprah, but that’s not what I was looking for coming from a food blog.)