Biggest Food Fads of the 21st Century

Source: PicturePartners / Getty Images

Coconut water

Like kombucha, coconut water has been sipped for thousands of years. The clear liquid drained from green coconuts is packed with nutrients and electrolytes. (It’s different from coconut milk, which blends in coconut flesh.) A low-calorie, low-sugar drink, coconut water is great for post-workout hydration. It is also a source of cytokines and phytohormones, said to have anti-aging and anticarcinogenic properties. In terms of global sales, it far outpaces that other trendy health beverage kombucha, having recorded global sales of $5 billion in 2021 – a figure predicted to rise to $11.72 billion over the next five years.

Source: sarahvain / Flickr


As more states legalize marijuana, edibles are one way to consume cannabis in a variety of products, from baked goods and candies to beverages, and they figure to become only more popular as the cannabis culture stabilizes in more and more places. However, since the products contain varying amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active ingredient in cannabis, consumers should be careful when trying edibles for the first time.

Source: bhofack2 / iStock via Getty Images

Rainbow foods

The Bagel Store in Brooklyn had been selling bagels streaked through with various bright colors for 20 years, but when one of its bagels went viral in a video in 2016, a food fad was born. Although eating food loaded with artificial dyes flies in the face of health-consciousness, we’re attracted to those fancy colors for a reason: A study found that we associate colors with certain tastes. For example, we see green and think sour, or we see pink and think sweet.

Source: bhofack2 / iStock via Getty Images

Fried chicken sandwiches

In 2019, Popeye’s launched a food war with its innovative fried chicken sandwich. The concept is simple: A fried chicken filet is topped with mayo and sour pickles and sandwiched in a brioche bun. Not to be outdone, Chick-fil-A chimed in, claiming it had invented the sandwich. Popeye’s refuted that claim. Fans of both sandwiches took the battle to Twitter, and the great fried chicken scuffle was on. Today, it seems like nearly everybody offers a version – Wendy’s, McDonald’s, Arby’s, Sonic, Burger King, KFC, and more.

Source: JulyProkopiv / Getty Images

Cold brew coffee

Cold brew coffee dates back to the 1600s, when the Japanese adapted the cold-brewing process from tea to coffee. Although cold brew – in which coffee grounds are steeped for hours in cold water, producing a flavorful beverage without bitterness – appeared in Cuba in the 1930 and the U.S. in the 1960s, it wasn’t until the 2000s that the preparation made its way onto the menus of independent specialty coffee shops here. Soon afterwards, Starbucks and Dunkin’ got in on the act, and now cold brew is as common as latte.

Sponsored: Find a Qualified Financial Advisor

Finding a qualified financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to 3 fiduciary financial advisors in your area in 5 minutes. Each advisor has been vetted by SmartAsset and is held to a fiduciary standard to act in your best interests. If you’re ready to be matched with local advisors that can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.