IronViz Feeder: Food Fight

For the food fight challenge I quickly explored the example data sets that were provided and decided that I wanted to do something totally different. On a side note, my 12 year-old daughter has only recently started eating hamburgers, and has fallen in love with Five Guys where you can pick your own toppings. While in line to pick up dinner for us, I thought that showing the toppings in an infographic style could be a fun effect… (Read on for more / Click image to visit the Viz)


Every task seems to begin by searching Google!

Step 1: The Data

I started looking for appropriate data. I ended up finding I had never heard of the site, but it had a great list of toppings and lots of votes on what the best ones were. It also had some additions to the list like ‘a man’ that I wasn’t sure what to do with unless I manually removed the things that I thought were absurd. While it was great to see that data, I was thinking that my entry would be more geared at just being fun and, if anything, I would try to hit community favorite. Thinking back to the question ‘Why should people care about my viz?,’ I wanted to make it personal. That is why I took to Survey Monkey to poll the people that I would want to engage with the viz.

After pulling down the survey results I realized that I wouldn’t have time to incorporate the data in a thoughtful way, so I skipped it. I did pull up a site called which had a great selection of foods with a traditional nutrition label. Unfortunately that took a lot of time to pull the data down manually, and it wasn’t so many items that I found it worth trying to automate the process.

Side note – I came across some data in one of Rody’s Tableau Public Vizes (@RodyZakovich) and I can’t wait to go back and see what he has done with it.

Step 2: The Icons

Initially I started with Google images and tried piecing my concept together. I also googled the infographic concept and was a little bummed (but not surprised) to see it had been done numerous times. I decided to continue forward though because mine would be data driven. Here is my starting concept:


I quickly found that many of the icons that I needed weren’t available or at least I couldn’t find them in a similar format. About that time some of the survey data started to come in and I found that I needed to make REALLY custom icons, like Chicken Schnitzel!

Here is my first attempt at Chris Love’s chili. My wife confirmed that it looked bad, but I’ll save it in case I ever need an icon for dog food.


I’m by no means a designer, I just pretend to be one at times. So I built my icons like any true ex-consultant with an MBA might… PowerPoint. I layered lots of shapes and got better with the freeform shape tool. By NO MEANS do I think that I have professional quality icons here. I just thought that it would be fun to do and not have to rely on someone else’s art for a change.


What I had underestimated however was HOW MUCH TIME this was going to take me to complete. Even now I realize that I never added chicken chorizo as an icon since that ended up becoming my tomato. I’m afraid that I must have plugged it on a temporary basis and didn’t ever make or assign the right icon.

Step 3: Bringing it Together

Over the years with other dashboarding/data viz platforms (and Excel), I have used the XY positioning fairly often. In following the latest work by Matt Chambers (@sirvizalot), this concept comes up a lot in the Hex Map technique.

Mostly, I’m bothered that small icons with lots of transparency can be hard to select! At times I’ve been able to add a transparent circle over the center of the image and that occasionally seems to work. Yet, I didn’t think of this issue until most of my icon work was done, so I go and add it back in (especially since I wasn’t confident that it would help).


I also had great ideas for the following, that never were implemented because I ran low on time:

  • Slide out containers – Listing all of the toppings
  • Cooler Pagination – To scroll through the burgers
  • Better Interactivity between Visuals

The fact is, this was FOR FUN!. I’ll be at TC16 regardless, so let me know if you want to grab a burger, veggie patty or some cheese on a bun!