Jessica Hyland, ’21, lays out her ingredients on the table for her banana bread recipe. She carefully mixes together the butter, eggs and bananas and pours the mixture into a pan. After taking her homemade creation out of the oven, Hyland snaps a quick photo and uploads it to her food Instagram account @psychoberry_.
Hyland’s first post on her account was a banana bread recipe. She often makes a healthier banana bread at home to share with friends, and refers to it as one of her signature items. She buys her own ingredients and bakes a few times each week.
Hyland started her food account the summer before her sophomore year at Lehigh.
Inspired by her old high school food account and other food Instagram accounts, Hyland uses @psychoberry_ as a blog for healthy baking. She also occasionally posts inspirational quotes and information about her workouts. Hyland said it was difficult to name her Instagram.
“I wanted it to be funny because I am also a weird person and a little bit psycho sometimes,” Hyland said. “I also wanted it to be food related, so I thought psychoberry was the perfect combination.”
The name was also prompted by Hyland’s psychology major.
Many of Hyland’s recipe ideas come from similar accounts, but Hyland adds a creative twist of her own to her dishes.
“It’s hard to learn baking science, so I just play around and have fun with it,” she said.
Hyland’s recent posts include recipes for paleo chocolate chip banana nut bars, peanut butter cookies, sea salt caramel blondies and fig newtons.
Although Hyland’s Instagram features health-conscious desserts and recipes, she said her goal is not to come across as knowledgeable or as a “health nut.” Hyland said she doesn’t want her followers to think she is trying to influence their decisions.
“I feel like a lot of people are like, ‘(wow) do you eat healthy all the time?’ but I just want to make a positive place for people to go to if they want to make a healthy recipe or get some inspiration,” she said.
Hyland’s account has over 650 followers and is working on raising awareness with sponsored ads and hashtags. She said her goal is to reach a much larger audience.
Like Hyland, Katrina Holceker, ’21, became interested in food Instagram accounts in high school. As sophomore in high school, Holceker started the account @chitown_foodies with her twin sister Elena Holceker and best friend Isabel Saltzman.
The name of the account was inspired by Chicago, the bloggers’ shared hometown.
The @chitown_foodies account is not a baking Instagram, but a restaurant blog. Photos on the account feature various dishes the bloggers have ordered, complete with the locations of the restaurants.
Recent posts showcase deep-dish pizza from Lou Malnati’s, a s’mores brownie from Yard House and avocado toast from Bluestone Lane.
Because the three girls attend different universities, the bloggers can now cover restaurants in multiple areas including Bethlehem, Washington, D.C. and Madison, Wisconsin.
“There are food accounts that repost other photos, but what sets us apart from other accounts is that all of our photos are taken by one of us,” Holceker said.
As the account has grown in reach, it has also grown in popularity. @chitown_foodies now has over 20,000 followers.
Holceker explained how the account took off when they tagged other Instagram accounts.
“We gained a lot of followers,” she said. “Now on Instagram we come up on a lot of people’s popular pages which really helps us.”
Holceker gathers insight through the data she gets from having her page set as a business Instagram. As a business account, she can see what time most of her followers view their posts and how engaged they are with each particular photo.
She then uses this information to determine when she should post and what kinds of photos are most popular.
“We also gained popularity through word of mouth through our friends and family,” Saltzman said. “We made sure to post a lot to remain active, and have sharp photos with punny captions.”
Now, new restaurants ask Holceker and friends to come try their food. The bloggers are occasionally given free food at restaurants in exchange for publicity from their account.
Some companies even send the girls products to try in hopes that they will appear on the Instagram.
“It has turned into more than just posting pictures of food,” Holceker said.