15 Of The Worst Food Trends To Ever Happen On The Internet
Trends come and go, this is especially true for food and fashion trends.
Sometimes, trends can stick around for years, even decades–Jell-O is a great example. (And that was before the internet!) Whereas other edible fads fizzle out within a few weeks.
It seems like there’s a new over-the-top food trend lurking in every corner of social media.
Despite many of these items’ outrageous prices or obvious dangers, foodies flock to whatever restaurant or store is known for doing it best to get the perfect close-up for their Insta feed.
We’ve got to draw the line somewhere, right?
I mean, when your health is at risk, I think it’s time to say so long. (Aesthetics aren’t going to help you when you’re lying in a hospital bed.)
From activated charcoal to edible gold, here are 15 examples of some of the worst food trends to hit the internet.
1. Liquid Nitrogen
This “trend” is actually dangerous.
Sure, liquid nitrogen looks cool, but it’s not worth an impromptu trip to the hospital. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), liquid nitrogen-infused foods and beverages should be avoided at all costs.
The FDA released an official warning on August 30, 2018, notifying the public that eating, drinking, or handling products prepared with liquid nitrogen could cause severe, even life-threatening, injuries.
“Liquid nitrogen, although non-toxic, can cause severe damage to the skin and internal organs if mishandled or accidentally ingested due to the extremely low temperatures it can maintain,” the warning states.
2. Pumpkin Spice
There are pumpkin spice bagels, donuts, muffins, and even hamburgers. When will the madness end?
While I’m not a fan of the flavor myself, I can’t help but admit that the whole pumpkin spice thing does evoke images of colorful leaves, cozy sweaters, and pumpkin patches galore.
Pumpkin spice isn’t just a trendy latte, it’s a mood and you can thank Peter Dukes for that. In 2003, Peter Dukes, the director of espresso Americas for Starbucks, joined a group of researchers on the seventh floor of Starbucks’ headquarters in Seattle to create what the world now knows as the PSL. After months and months of testing, the team finally found a winning combination.
“Pumpkin Spice Latte has become more than just a beverage,” Dukes said. “It has become a harbinger of the season.”
3. Fancy Toast
Who would have thought toast would ever be trendy?
I’m not a fan of bread, but my husband is obsessed with toast. He’s literally the only reason there is a toaster in our apartment. Even so, he’s not into the whole “artisanal toast” thing. I mean, it’s overpriced toast slathered in who knows what. Ricotta, avocado, homemade jam, whatever. One piece of toast definitely isn’t worth $7–especially when we can just make it ourselves. (We are from the South, you know.)
The high-end toast scene had its big debut in San Francisco in 2014 after “This American Life” aired a riveting profile on Giulietta Carrelli–the owner of Trouble Coffee and Coconut Club and the creative behind artisanal toast.
Even McDonald’s adopted the kale trend.
Before kale became a thing, it was used to decorate salad bars. Now, kale is known for its seemingly over-the-top health benefits. Healthy or not, I’m not into its bitter taste and almost wiry (is that the word I’m looking for?) texture.
According to the US Department of Agriculture, kale production rose 60 percent between 2007 and 2012. If that’s not enough evidence to prove that this leafy green has completely taken over, I don’t know what is. In addition, a 2015 survey of restaurant menus showed a 47 percent increase in the word “kale.” There’s even a National Kale Day!
How did this happen, you ask? A bomb PR company. Thanks to Oberon Sinclair, the founder of My Young Auntie, kale became the trendiest vegetable around.
“My approach was relatively simple,” Sinclair told Mind Body Green. “I sought to educate consumers on the benefits of a product via guerrilla marketing. I literally put it on chalkboards around Manhattan and on the menus of cool restaurants, the Fat Radish being one of them,” another My Young Auntie client, “and the ‘trend’ escalated from there.”
5. Açaí Bowls
An açaí bowl is basically a smoothie in a bowl.
Açaí bowls are definitely Instagram-worthy and they’re loaded with antioxidants, but they’re a bit extra don’t you think? Wouldn’t an açaí smoothie suffice? Not to mention they’re really expensive (and full of sugar!)
“Açaí bowls can have 50g of sugar [the equivalent of 12 teaspoons], or double what the American Heart Association recommends for women for an entire day,” Ilana Muhlstein, R.D., tells Shape. “You should really look at açaí bowls as more of an occasional treat, not something you’d have as a meal.”
6. Deconstructed Food
But it’s an art form… HA! OK.
If I wanted a “deconstructed” meal, I’d just stay home and cook. (Or not cook, considering half of the deconstructed dishes I see are just that–remnants of what could have been a delicious meal.)
Apparently, this artsy-fartsy “deconstructed” cooking method emerged in the early ’90s thanks to a Spanish chef named Ferran Adriá. Instead of just serving the mundane entrees everyone was used to, he began producing dishes where all of the ingredients and flavors were presented in an obscure way.
7. AVOCADO EVERYTHING
Avocadoes are not that good.
I have a confession to make: I hate avocadoes. Yes, I once lived in Brooklyn. Yes, I enjoy hanging out in Williamsburg. But I refuse to get on this crazy avocado, hipster bandwagon. (Don’t even get me started on guac.)
I’m not saying avocadoes aren’t good for you, because they totally are. But, what I am saying is, some people have taken this food trend too far. I mean, avocado tattoos? Come on.
The actual history of the avocado, however, is an interesting one, to say the least. The pear-shaped fruit has been around for more than 9,000 years. Back then, the Aztecs called avocadoes “ahuacatl.” In English, this word means “testicle.”
8. Truffle Oil
A truffle is a type of fungus. (Yum…)
A while back, chef Frank Tujague of The Westin New York hotel at Times Square added a $1,000 bagel to his menu.
The insanely expensive bagel was slathered with decadent white truffle cream cheese and goji berry-infused Riesling jelly with golden leaves (we’ll talk about this later).
Fortunately, this ridiculous creation had a sweet backstory–the funds were to support the Les Amis d’Escoffier Scholarship.
“I wanted to create something that speaks to New York, and is also a reflection of my culinary passion for seasonality and fine ingredients,” Tujague said in a statement. “By giving back a portion of the proceeds, we are inspiring future chefs to think outside the box and maximize culinary creativity.”
While it’s nice Tujague wanted to give back to the community, $1,000 for a bagel is a bit steep.
Plus, truffle is an acquired taste.
9. Intermittent fasting
News flash: Fasting isn’t sustainable.
Intermittent fasting (IF) is more of an “eating pattern” than a food trend, but I thought it was worth mentioning.
IF is when a person cycles between periods of eating and fasting.
People who choose to do IF can opt for a 16-hour fast (you’re to eat all of your food in an eight-hour window) or a 24-hour fast, twice per week.
Some dieters prefer to do the 5:2 plan, which consists of a “normal” five-day meal plan followed by a two-day low-caloric diet.
Ultimately, what other people do with their body is none of my business.
But I don’t think I can support a diet that encourages you to starve. (That may sound a bit dramatic, but there’s very little research that the benefits of this diet outweigh the negative side effects.)
10. Edible Flowers
Tasty or toxic?
Popping a colorful flower in a cup of tea or on top of a cake may seem harmless, but according to James Wong–a well-known botanist and food writer–you could be putting your health at risk.
Another day, another ‘clean eating’ Instagrammer posting images of toxic flowers on food,” Wong writes on Twitter. “It may not contain dairy or gluten *gasp* but it does contain the toxic plant alkaloid, lycorine. Symptoms: itching, swelling, (and in quantity) nausea, vomiting & convulsions.”
11. Poop-themed Foods
I wish I were kidding. But, unfortunately, this is real-life and poop-themed cafes are actually a thing.
Apparently, Lien Nguyen–the owner of Poop Café Dessert Bar–thought it would be cute to create the very first poop-themed cafe in Koreatown (Toronto, Canada).
“I’m trying to make poop cute,” Nguyen told the The Star. “[It’s] considered very disgusting, [something] you can’t talk about when you’re eating,” she said … until now.”
I’m at a loss for words.
12. Rolled Ice Cream
I can’t lie. I fell victim to this one.
If there’s one thing I love, it’s posting photos of drinks, desserts, entrees, etc., to Instagram before scarfing whatever it is down.
I’m usually uploading photos of medium-rare steaks, creative cocktails, and coffee, but one hot day while I was strolling the streets of downtown New York I decided to post a ~trendy~ photo.
But here’s the thing: I’ll most likely never buy rolled ice cream again. Why? Because it tastes exactly like “normal” ice cream, but it’s pricier. (I hate things that are expensive for no reason.)
13. Overnight Oats
It’s cold oatmeal, right?
Overnight oats is exactly what it sounds like–soaking oats in yogurt or milk, popping it in the fridge (most likely in a Mason jar), and taking it to work/calss for lunch the next day.
(My best friend does this every night.)
The only problem? Overnight oats are high in carbs, making it a less than ideal choice for breakfast.
A high-carb breakfast dulls the bodys’s cortisol response (making you feel grumpy and groggy).
It can also mess with your sleep cycle, and because carbs are digested so quickly, eating a high-carb breakfast can cause you to feel hungry earlier in the day.
14. Gold-Leaf Foods
You fancy, huh?
For some reason, the edible gold trend is still a thing.
Even now, in 2019 when we’re supposed to be living by our wits.
But, the masses loves shiny things, even in their food–from ice cream to pizza to hot chocolate.
Gold, while beautiful (I guess?), is tasteless, void of texture, and adds nothing valuable to a meal other than a bit of shine.
“It certainly was being used in large feasts in the Middle Ages,” Dr. Heather Evans, a food expert and historian tells Maclean’s. “This was the period that people referred to as the Dark Ages.
Among the upper class, the small percent that had loads of money, this was a really glamorous, luxurious era. They wanted their fancy stuff.”
15. Edible Activated Charcoal
Yet another item you shouldn’t be putting in your mouth.
I’ll start by saying this: Charcoal is burnt organic matter. That’s it.
It only becomes “activated” when it’s exposed to gas at a high temperature.
Once it’s activated, it can easily bind with whatever it comes in contact with–this is why doctors use it to treat poisoning and drug overdoeses. (It binds with whatever substance it needs to before the body can absorb it.)
When you eat charcoal, it might bind with some pretty good stuff you don’t want to get rid of, like minterals, vitamins, and phytonutrients.
It can also restrict your body from absorbing any meds you’ve taken while eating charcoal-infused foods. (It can also cause intestinal blockage.)