Where will America go for V-Day? Ask Google!

Searches for the Olive Garden crush the Internet each Valentine's Day. Who will win this year?

By Francis Lam

Published February 14, 2011 9:30AM (EST)

"Darling, you know I love you. I have always loved you. And after all these years, looking into your eyes still drives me wild with desire. Will you pass me your Never Ending Pasta Bowl?"

If you're looking forward to saying these magic words to your sugarpie honeybunch over Valentine's Day dinner tonight, you're not alone! Peeking into Google search trends each of the past two February 14ths reveals a nation ready for romance at the Applebee's.

A report by a search engine consulting firm called Everspark Interactive reveals that right around 5pm Eastern time on Valentine's Day, Google lights up like a pinball machine with searches for the following terms: 

  1. Olive Garden
  2. Red Lobster
  3. Applebee’s
  4. Outback
  5. Outback Steakhouse
  6. Outback Steakhouse coupons
  7. Outback Steakhouse menu
  8. Chili’s
  9. Macaroni Grill

On this blessed day on the past two years, the statistics for these searches fly through the freaking roof, or, in Google terms, they go "Volcanic," the highest rating on their "hot searches" scale.

Fascinated by this look into how America will eat / desperately keep their partners happy / mate this evening, we'll be keeping an eye on Google's hot searches. Already, "Edible Arrangements," a company that delivers "flowers" out of fruit, is having a bang-up day, nearly cracking the top 10 searches:

The sadly floundering "Valentine's Day dinner ideas" is steadily climbing, going up from the 12th most-searched term to the ninth in the half-hour from 2pm EST to 2:30. The mysterious and vaguely depressing "heart-shaped pizza" is hanging on at number 12.

And, at 2:30, here comes the Olive Garden, breaking through at number 19, as millions of people are nearing the 5:00 pm Power Hour.

We'll update as more restaurants come in!

UPDATE, 4:30 pm Eastern: And with the approach of the dinner hour, the restaurants are surging! The Olive Garden, true to form, is pushing up to the 7th most-Googled term, leaving "Valentines dinner ideas" (number 10) in the dust as Romeos and Juliets are making up their mind and getting ready for some Hospitaliano. But here, too, comes the Red Lobster (13) ... and the Australian Menace, Outback, is poised to strike at number 16.

UPDATE, 5:20 pm Eastern: Boom! Boom boom boom! Olive Garden is still comfortably ahead at number six, but here come the insurgents: Outback elbowed aside Red Lobster (11) to climb to #10; Cheesecake Factory is bringing the cardiac pain at #15, Texas Roadhouse rides the sexy Patrick Swayze nostalgia wave to #16, and the very depressing Applebees emerges at #18. The night is still young, lovers! 

UPDATE, 6:15 pm Eastern: Well friends, it looks like the OG is not to be messed with this year; the Olive Garden is just killing it at the third-most-searched term on Google right now. Outback isn't blooming enough onions to catch up, though at #7, there sure are a lot of happy couples eating overly salty beef tonight. Red Lobster is close in at #8, but last year's third-place chain, Applebee's (11), looks like it's being taken out by upstart Texas Roadhouse (10). Benihana and his flipping shimp makes an appearance at 14, and Cheesecake Factory is slipping down to 17. (Weirdly, "heart shaped pizza" is still sticking around at 13.) BUT! Score one for this: at number 18, "How to cook lobster tails." Go home steamers!

Francis Lam

Francis Lam is Features Editor at Gilt Taste, provides color commentary for the Cooking Channel show Food(ography), and tweets at @francis_lam.

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