Biggest Food Fads of the 21st Century

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Every decade sees new fads in food. Sometimes these rise and fall quickly (so long, bulletproof coffee), while others remain on restaurant menus or become the favorites of home cooks for so long that they enter the mainstream and are unlikely to ever fade away. (Look what we predicted would be the 24 biggest food and drink trends of 2022.)

The first two decades of the 2000s have seen a number of food fads in both categories. To compile a list of the biggest food fads of the 21st century, 24/7 Tempo consulted articles on the subject on numerous food and popular culture sites, including Food Timeline, The Recipe, Food 52, and Buzzfeed, as well as several major newspapers and magazines.

Although some fads on the list are more current inventions, such as Cronuts and avocado toast, others have become newly popular after having been eaten for centuries. Charcuterie boards are not an Instagram creation, but the brainchild of 15th-century French meat purveyors. Matcha is all the rage now, but the Chinese have been brewing it since the seventh century.  

Some fads evolve into long-lived trends to, dare we say, traditions? Every fall, we’re bombarded with everything pumpkin spice, so that’s probably here to stay. Given how much we love iced coffee, our love for a cold-brewed cup of joe will likely never fade away. Health-conscious consumers will continue to crave quinoa, plant-based meats, and alternative milks made of almonds and soy. (These are the greatest public health achievements of the 21st century.)

Yet other fads may have already come and gone. Rainbow foods, for one, may be well past its expiration date, and cupcakes just aren’t quite the universal favorite they once were. 

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