Pinterest gets serious about recipe inspiration with Punchfork buy

A good deal of Pinterest’s members are already using the social network as a visual recipe book, so Pinterest has decided to make its love for food official by scooping up Punchfork, a recipe portal that aggregates culinary ideas from blogs and cooking sites across.

Punchfork CEO Jeff Miller revealed the acquisition on Punchfork’s website today, though he didn’t disclose a purchase price. Pinterest confirmed Punchfork is its first acquisition in its short history, and given the Pinterest community’s obsession with food pins, it seemed a natural fit for the rapidly growing social network. “People come to Pinterest to find inspiration for their everyday lives and we think Punchfork’s mission aligns with this well,” spokesperson Annie Ha said in a statement.

Punchfork is one of the growing number of recipe aggregation portals on the web, but it’s distinguished itself by building an API which food bloggers and independent recipe sites can tap into to bring their recipes and culinary musings to Punchfork’s growing audience. Punchfork has also developed social and analytics tools that help those bloggers track the popularity of their dishes. While Punchfork has used that API to grow its own membership, it’s also shared it with Evernote, powering the note-taker’s new Explore Recipes function on Evernote Food.

With the takeover, though, Punchfork will shut down its website, mobile apps and API, and the Punchfork team will devote itself to bolstering Pinterest’s already impressive recipe discovery boards.

To give you an idea of how popular food is on Pinterest, community recipe portal has reported that in three months after it added a “pin it” button to its pages last summer, 50,000 of its were pinned, generating 139 million impressions. An Experian survey of Pinterest users early last year found that 70 percent of account holders said they pinned recipes and used Pinterest for cooking inspiration, beating out home decorating, fashion and crafting.

Like Pinterest, Punchfork positioned itself as a visually oriented “cooking inspiration” site versus the many more nuts-and-bolts recipe aggregators out there like Paprika, Pepperplate and BigOven. Rather than allowing customers to find their own recipes and store them in their own private recipe collections, Punchfork aggregates recipe content from a broad selection of partners, using its service as a dish-discovery engine.

Other startups have adopted similar strategies. Gojee is even more visually oriented than Punchfork, presenting its dishes in luscious full-screen photos. Evernote competitor Springpad has also taken a page from Pinterest’s book, making the visual organization of recipes a key focus.