Taxonomy or classification exists in the fields of economics, nature, society, etc. This is not news to any of us. We may not call it taxonomy, but we see it when we walk through the grocery store in aisle signs, or when you fill out your income taxes and find yourself, much to your dismay, in a new tax bracket.

Recently I discovered taxonomies in a new place, at least for me. Right there on my Pinterest page.

My Pinterest account is about six years old and though there are a few craft, DIY and some holiday decorating boards, the majority of what I search for and pin are recipes. Until recently, I had two boards of food – Sweet and Savory. When I started them I believed that was all the sorting I would ever need.

Fast forward six years later and over a thousand recipes — it was not enough.


The re-sorting began, with savory first as it seemed easier to tackle.

I added Entrees/Main Dishes, Sides/Salads, and Appetizers. The last one had been a problem for a while because some appetizers are sweet and some are savory, and quite frankly there are some that are both, i.e. Goat Cheese Stuffed Dates wrapped in Bacon.

I began sorting all the recipes into these three categories and started to find a need for additional classifications. Soups are entrees, but when I personally search for entrée recipes, I am looking for more of a meat/chicken/pasta dish than soup. Plus I had a lot of soup recipes pinned, so that alone created the need for a soup board.


Then I ran into breads that were not sweet, i.e. sourdough, focaccia, etc. Hence a bread board was next, which I also added sweet breads to later.

Similar to the appetizer board, a breakfast board was created because it stands in both the sweet and savory world. In our house, there is another dilemma with breakfast foods. We like them for all meals, not just the morning ones. However, there is no real fix for that in categorizing the boards. That is just something I have to remember when searching for inspiration and recipes.

So when all was said and done, I moved 589 recipes into six new boards and deleted the Savory one. I felt empowered and ready to tackle the sweeter side of things.

The air went out of that balloon really fast when I started sorting over 750 recipes of the sweet nature. Initially I made boards for cakes, cookies, pies, and ice cream. It didn’t take long to start refining and redefining what goes where.

Cakes turned into cakes/cobblers; cookies turned into candy/cookies; pies turned into pies/tarts; and ice cream became ice cream/frozen desserts.

You may wonder why I didn’t just make new ones for cobblers, candy, tarts and frozen desserts, and I confess I started to, but I quickly found recipes for things that weren’t really a cookie but weren’t exactly candy, and that applied across the other mash-ups as well. So I decided hybrid categories worked well for how I thought about food. It may be very different for someone else.

But don’t worry, I did indeed add more categories. Puddings/dessert, brownies/bars, frostings/dessert sauces/jams, petites/sweet dips, and beverages.

Puddings need no explanation except that I define them by texture, less by technique. Therefore, all mousses and fluffy desserts fell into this category.

The petites/sweet dips board was a challenge. I started putting some small finger style desserts into appetizers but they weren’t really appetizers, i.e. cream puffs. That is why I felt a category of its own was warranted, but since it was kind of a sweet appetizer, things like cherry cheesecake dip seemed to pair nicely. This board, like many others, may continue to evolve.


The beverages board was the last one I added because I really didn’t think I needed it. I had a board for cocktails already, but I decided there had to be a differentiation for alcoholic and non-alcoholic type beverages, i.e. toasted marshmallow milkshakes, which could easily have been included in ice cream/frozen desserts as well.

In all taxonomies, decisions have to be made. The key is to be consistent in those decisions so there is consistency across the classification. Consistency makes content findable.

This has all made me very hungry so I am going to go search for something yummy to make. Should I start with sweet or savory?

Melody K. Smith

Sponsored by Access Innovations, the world leader in thesaurus, ontology, and taxonomy creation and metadata application.