15 Crazy Food Trends That Have Captivated America Since MyRecipes Began
In the 60s it was Jell-O salads. Fondue and quiche graced tables in the '70s. The cabbage soup diet took hold in the '80s, and Lunchables—charcuterie for children—were hot tickets in the '90s.
Looking back on trends can be fascinating and a little cringey. But because it's MyRecipes' birthday (we turn 15 this month!) we're inviting you to indulge us in a little celebratory nostalgia as we reminisce on the biggest, craziest trends in culinary culture over the last 15 years. Let's dig in.
1. Avocado Toast (1993)
The story goes that the mashed avocado-on-toast phenomenon was first served in Aussie Bill Granger's corner cafe in Sydney in 1993. Its popularity spread at warp speed in the age of Instagram, thanks to its visual appeal paired with our brunch obsession.
2. Dalgona Coffee (2020)
Quarantine brought us work from home, sweatpants as acceptable fashion, and a whipped coffee craze known as Dalgona. (You better believe we jumped on the trend and spiked it too.) The simple combination of sugar, instant coffee, and water whipped together and served over milk erupted on TikTok after Korean actor Jung Il-woo tried the drink during a mukbang in Macau on a television program called "Stars' Top Recipe at Fun-Staurant."
3. Everything Seasoning … on Everything (2017)
Inspired by the collection of seeds and spices that coats an everything bagel (the origins of which are hotly contested themselves), Trader Joe's launched their jarred seasoning Everything but the Bagel Sesame Seasoning in 2017 with copycats springing up in just about every grocery store. Trader Joe's went on to unveil Everything But the Elote Seasoning and Everything But the Leftovers Seasoning.
4. Over-the-Top Desserts and Drinks (2016)
Because a plain Jane milkshake wasn't decadent enough, nor was a bloody Mary with a celery stirrer, in 2016 we were blessed with beverages piled sky-high with unnecessary accouterments. Known in some circles as "monster milkshakes" or "freakshakes," the dairy dessert was seen overflowing with whipped cream and studded with skewers of brownies, waffles, and any other ridiculously large, sugar-laden item that was on-theme for that shake. Bloody Mary bars with infinite add-ons became the rage as did brunch spots serving cocktails nearly tipping over with outrageous toppings, from fried chicken to sushi rolls.
5. The Keto Diet (peaked in 2020)
The Ketogenic Diet was developed as a treatment for epilepsy in the 1920s and 30s. Who knew it would rise to fame in the 20-teens as a weight loss method popularized for its allowance of indulgent foods like high-fat cheeses and red meat? Like almost every diet ever, Keto was not devoid of drawbacks, and faded in popularity as health experts sounded the alarm on its iffy health claims and guidelines.
6. Foam (2007)
If you watched Top Chef in its heyday, you remember foam–that bubbly, futuristic-looking dollop contestants added to elevate a dish. The molecular gastronomy trend was around long before the reality show, but Top Chef introduced it to the masses. And while every contestant seemed to have a foam fetish, not all chefs felt so enamored.
7. Hard Seltzer (2016)
Like its nonalcoholic cousin flavored seltzer, spiked seltzer (see our favorite here) has had a heck of a moment. "Hard seltzer is at the intersection of several consumer trends right now," Lara Crystal, co-founder/co-CEO of Minibar Delivery, recently told Wine Enthusiast. "We've observed increasing demand for lower-alcohol products and healthier, natural options, along with a surge in ready-to-drink beverages." We won't claim credit for starting the trend, but we did spot it pretty darn early.
8. Instagram Eye Candy (2016)
We can thank social media for the profusion of brightly hued foods (that happen to be beige in their natural state) that you can't help but double tap and hunt down to taste and 'gram yourself. From the rainbow food trend (bagels, grilled cheese, pasta, etc.) to unicorn toast (and cakes, Starbucks drinks, and more), and even sparkly "galaxy" foods, it was all about looks with these dishes, which prompts the question … was the flavor worth the fuss?
9. Hybrids (2013)
No, we're not talking cars. These are the mashups of two foods morphing into one new Frankenfood. The Cronut, pastry chef Dominique Ansel's croissant-meets-donut creation, might be the most well-known. But there's also the sushiritto, launched at the fast-casual restaurant of the same name in 2008; the ramen burger, developed in 2013 by chef Keizo Shimamoto in Brooklyn, and so many others. When the fanfare around these new concoctions made actually obtaining one nearly impossible, MyRecipes came to the rescue with dozens of delicious mash-up recipes that you can make in the comfort of your own home.
Related–Mom vs. Hip Food Trends
10. Creative Ice Cream Flavors (2008)
The last decade and a half have been anything but basic in the world of frozen treats. Ice cream flavors have adventured far beyond vanilla, which has become its own derogatory adjective. Brands have been churning out wilder and wilder flavors, from Everything Bagel at Jeni's, Kraft Mac and Cheese by Van Leeuwen, Salt & Straw's "garbage-inspired" ice cream line, and a French's Mustard flavor by Coolhaus.
11. Boards of Every Kind (2020)
Mom joke warning: When it comes to charcuterie in the last five years, no one was bored. (Oof.) It's not hard to understand why charcuterie has taken off. It's great for entertaining, is visually appealing for social media, and because every bite can be a different combination, it's a delicious way to play with flavors. But in the last few years, boards went way beyond cheese, cured meats, nuts, and olives. Pancake boards, French fry boards, taco boards … It turns out just about anything can be boarded, but our hearts will always belong to the traditional charcuterie set-up.
12. Cupcakes (2007)
In MyRecipes' early days, cupcakes were all the rage. It was such a simple trend, but social media was in its infancy, which meant fads were less complicated and stuck around longer. The internet credits our hunger for cupcakes in part to Magnolia Bakery and its cameo on Sex and the City. Cupcake specialty shops like Sprinkles in Beverly Hills, Crumbs on the Upper West Side, and Georgetown Cupcake in D.C. sprang up to sate the cupcake desire, Food Network's Cupcake Wars aired for nine seasons, and folks couldn't make enough of the mini cakes at home.
13. Smoothie Bowls (2017)
In the world of health fads, one thing can be counted on: the annual list of the year's biggest superfoods–those nutritional powerhouse fruits and vegetables. When acai, an earthy Brazilian berry, hit the list, the smoothie revolution took place. In Brazil, acai is combined with sugar and guarana, as well as toppings like fruits and granola. When acai was imported to America by two California brothers, it was transported frozen, making it a perfect smoothie ingredient. When placed in a bowl and topped with stripes of granola, fresh fruit slices, seeds, and yogurt, acai bowls were born and so very Instagrammable. Their popularity may have dwindled, but they're still healthy and tasty, so here's how to make one at home.
14. Bacon on and in Everything (2009)
Bacon has always been popular (it's delicious), but something happened in the late aughts that took our love of bacon to red-flag level. According to the National Pork Board, between 2001 and 2009, bacon volume in food services grew by almost 25%. Some chefs theorized it was because it's relatively easy to make, and there was a strong "made from scratch" draw during these years. And while most bacon iterations were fun and creative (bacon-infused vodka for bloody Marys, bacon chocolate chip cookies, a bacon lattice), some were plain weird (bacon candles and our bacon football).
15. Anything But Carbs! (2007)
America has a fraught relationship with carbs, and over the last 15 years the trend of avoiding them seems to have a variety of motives at play. Firstly, weight loss: Low-carb diets like Atkins and South Beach eschewing white bread and pasta amassed large followings. Second, the trend toward "sneaking in" more veggies (hi, cauliflower pizza crust and sweet potato toast). And third, our generally gluttonous tendencies (we're looking at you, KFC Kentaco, the taco made with a shell of fried chicken).
Phew, if the next 15 years are anything like the last, we are in for a wild ride.