Durban — It started out 25 years ago as a noun and a curiosity, but it has exploded into a verb and a giant.
Every day millions of people google stuff on the powerhouse search engine Google which keeps track of and tallies up every search.
A look at the site’s international “time capsule” is like skimming a history book: you can see what movies, TV shows, video games, dogs, sporting celebs and even sauces made the headlines in a particular year.
One curious list suggests people have a peculiar relationship with tomato sauce: the humble kitchen staple has claimed the No 1 spot since 2004, nearly 20 years. No doubt there have been news items that helped it to the top. Saffers recently had a national, sometimes heated and colourful, debate about whether it should be stored in the fridge or in the cupboard. There were no half measures, it was for or against. There was also the report of former US president Donald Trump throwing a bottle of tomato sauce at a wall in his Mar-a-Lago club in a fit of rage.
Soy sauce has been second since 2016 but has frequently been in the top five searches for sauces.
Footballer Cristiano Ronaldo hogged the number one search list for more than 10 years, before losing it when the world searched for news of, and mourned, Kobe Bryant, who died in a helicopter crash in 2020. In 2023, the world’s most-searched sportsman was Lionel Messi.
In South Africa this year, South African rugby players dominated the sports personality searches, with the top seven of 10 being the Springboks, Siya Kolisi, Bongi Mbonambi, Faf de Klerk, Eben Etzebeth, Cheslin Kolbe and Ox Nche before Moroccan footballer Achraf Hakimi, tennis superstar Roger Federer and Ronaldo got a look in to make up the balance.
The Cricket and Rugby World Cups were one and two on the search list for sporting events. Banyana Banyana was fourth and Kaizer Chiefs versus Mamelodi Sundowns fifth.
In the international “time capsule” of dogs, bulldogs have stood firm at number one for most of 20 years, with shepherds and Labradors consistently nipping at their heels.
For staying power, TV show The Simpsons has pride of place overall, spending more than 20 years at or very close to the top search. From 2014 to 2019, Game of Thrones took the lead, with a strong challenge by The Walking Dead. Both are in the top five for 2023.
Saffers’ top 10 big- and small-screen searches were, from one to 10, Barbie, Oppenheimer, Shaka Ilembe, John Wick 4, Fast X, Queen Charlotte Bridgerton, The Last of Us, Creed 3, Fatal Seduction and Kaleidoscope.
There was a blip in the run of dominance in the world of gaming: World of Warcraft was tops from 2005-2010, chased and sometimes overtaken across the years by Minecraft. In 2022, however, they were both crushed by a new upstart – Wordle came from nowhere to oust them.
South Africans also showed their love for their parents: categorised as “holiday” searches, number 1 and 2 in 2023, they asked for the dates of Father’s Day and Mother’s Day.
Independent on Saturday