As 2022 comes to a close, we wanted to reflect on what our readers were thinking about and clicking on over the past year. Based on our online analytics, here’s a rundown of some of our most popular stories with some updates, where possible.
Technically, we posted this story in December of 2021, so it had an entire year to gain traction and clicks, but our inaugural Where Are They Now? story catching up with a Minnesota personality was a success. As this story states, “Pat Miles was part of the Twin Cities media landscape for more than a quarter of a century before retiring from the spotlight in 2006.” Since retirement, Miles has been living in Minnesota as well as Arizona and recently wrote a book about losing her husband, Bucky Zimmerman, and the financial and emotional impacts. That book, “Before All Is Said and Done,” came out in October and is available now. Miles has been featured in several interviews since the book’s release, but we like to think we were the first to the refresh with this story.
After a few years of COVID-19-related cancellations, closures, and limited attendance, the Minnesota State Fair returned this year to surging crowds and hungry attendees. Food critic Jason DeRusha set out to review this year’s new food and drink options, selecting some hits and misses. And while the new dishes get most of the attention, Jason recognized that most of us plan our Fair frenzy around our favorites. His list of top not-new State Fair foods was also one of our best-performing online stories.
Another popular story that started as a Where Are They Now? feature expanded into a longer profile of meteorologist Ken Barlow with rich details. About one in five U.S. adults lives with a mental illness, the story quotes from the National Institute of Mental Health. Barlow was one of the first prominent Twin Cities personalities to openly discuss his diagnosis, and this story highlights his decade-long journey since that announcement, including the highs and lows. After the story appeared in print, Barlow shared on his social media channels and discussed on KSTP.
Another top story for 2022 involved some breaking restaurant news. In September, barbecue food truck owners Jon Wipfli of Animales Barbeque Co. and Dylan Boerboom of Boomin Barbecue were facing closure because of a city ordinance prohibiting their meat smokers. The story explains the issue: “Minneapolis doesn’t allow food trucks to have anything outside the truck. No condiment tables, garbage cans, signage, seating, and no smokers. Offset smokers are a very common way of smoking meat outside food trucks all over the country. Animales has been running these smokers outside their truck since August of 2018; they’ve been inspected every year, no one ever said a thing until now.” After some back and forth with the city, both operations were allowed to use their smokers through November, and a recent report suggests Wipfli is looking to open a brick-and-mortar shop in 2023.
The online story about the smokers appeared shortly after we published an extensive guide to the Best BBQ, which included Wipfli’s grilling tips. Also included in our BBQ guide were suggestions for spices and rubs from Twin Cities chef Justin Sutherland, who also made it into our top online news stories for the year after recovering from a horrific boating accident over Fourth of July weekend.
Finally, our readers love lists and suggestions for things to do. Our weekly Best Bets as well as our topical lists of events—including fall foliage drives, holiday concerts, and Halloween events—were among our most-clicked throughout the year. And our extensive roundup of winter activities, with a twist, had an outstanding number of clicks and shares. This article first appeared in our Jan/Feb 2022 print issue and offers more than 100 suggestions for “chilling out indoors or heating things up outside.” Winter is back, and we’re ready to revive our list for some clever ideas. Add yours in the comments or share with others.
Thanks for reading and being a vital part of “The Spirit of Minnesota.”