The Curious Incident of the Fish in the Google Trends

Slate's Culture Blog
Jan. 6 2010 3:00 PM

The Curious Incident of the Fish in the Google Trends

It's usually pretty easy to figure out how a word, phrase, or name makes its way into Google Trends ' "Hot Searches," where the search behemoth lists the queries that are burning up the algorithm. The Consumer Electronics Show is ongoing, so lots of people are searching for info about gadgets like the Nexus One phone and the Blio e-reader ; death announcements, news events, and weather peculiarities—Fulton, N.Y., has had 55 inches of snow!—often make the billing, too.

But today, there's a mystery afoot on Google Trends. The No. 1 and No. 8 trends at the moment refer to the hogchoker fish. The hogchoker is a small fish—about 6 inches—found in coastal waters of North America. The Chesapeake Bay Program's "Bay Field Guide" notes that the odd name "comes from farmers who used to feed these fish to their hogs. The hogs would often choke on the fishes' scaly, bony bodies."

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But why are so many people searching for it today? We at Slate searched news items, blogs, and Twitter for a news hook but didn't turn anything up. Do you know what's going on with the sudden increase in hogchoker searches? Let us know in the Fray , or e-mail me at boschv@gmail.com .

Torie Bosch is the editor of Future Tense, a project of Slate, the New America Foundation, and Arizona State that looks at the implications of new technologies. Follow her on Twitter.