The Biggest Fads and Trends in Food and Drink Since 2010

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As in most other areas of human endeavor, fads and trends come and go in the world of food and drink. It isn’t always easy to tell the difference between the two, but trends are basically the fads that stick around. Though they often take time to build, they eventually end up changing things about the way we eat and drink, or think about eating and drinking, more or less permanently — or at least until other trends displace them.

Fads are more ephemeral; they come and go. More than a century ago, an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association defined a fad in part as a “trivial fancy adopted and pursued for a time with irrational zeal.” (The term’s etymology is uncertain, but it might derive from the Latin “fatuus,” meaning “stupid.”) Trends are fads with legs; they lend fads legitimacy, proclaiming that they weren’t perhaps so trivial after all.

Diets — paleo, keto, etc. — can be fads or trends; so can indulgences like fast food mashups (the Doritos Loco taco) or milkshakes with such crazy toppings as cotton candy or caramel apples. Fads from recent years, such as plant-based meat and Middle Eastern food — both included here — have evolved into full-scale trends, and are now virtually part of the mainstream.

It remains to be seen whether such innovations as artisanal toasts, hard seltzer, and rainbow-colored foods are here to stay, but some food and drink trends have definitely altered the culinary landscape and even our very lifestyles overall. These are the lifestyle trends you need to know about this year. 

The “camera eats first” (shoot it before you eat it) phenomenon, for instance, has greatly influenced not only the social media on which food photos appear but the way chefs cook. Foods infused with cannabidiol (CBDs) are probably here to stay, too, as are, almost certainly, food delivery apps, food trucks, and, inevitably, everything pumpkin spice.

It’s easy to see how long-lasting fads that grow into trends can be when you consider the biggest food fads of the past 50 years.