A fad is a “trivial fancy adopted and pursued for a time with irrational zeal…or an important matter imperfectly understood [and] taken up and urged with more zeal than sense” — at least according to an article called “Our Tendency to Fads,” published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 1913.
The world of food seems particularly susceptible to fads. It has been estimated that about 15,000 new food products are introduced in the U.S. each year, at least some of them probably destined to become at least minor fads. Every week seems to bring a new diet, a new superfood, a new way of getting food on the table. These, for instance, are the biggest trends in food and drink since 2010.
Some food fads prove to have lasting strength, evolving into trends, which then, in turn, evolve into commonplaces — things that become so much a part of our culinary lives that we can’t remember when we didn’t have them, or imagine how we could have managed in their absence.
Whether they prove to be permanent additions to our ways of eating or not, some food fads become famous — written about in all the major epicurean publications, talked about whenever food-lovers chatter, reflected in countless restaurant menus or on every grocery shelf.
Quinoa and kale, for instance, are household words. Avocado toast and pumpkin spice latte are cultural touchstones. Almost everybody knows what “paleo” and “keto” mean.
Truly famous food fads often get that way because truly famous people take them up, and a look at some of the best-known and most widely disseminated examples in recent years shows how important the Kardashians and Paltrows and Gagas of the world have been to the way we eat and drink.
Publications that cover the entertainment world assemble photographs of notables eating frozen yogurt or post videos of music stars discussing fried chicken — and magazines and websites of all kinds seem to have an inexhaustible appetite for stories on the way celebrities eat (or stop eating), as if these rarified creatures are sharing healthy eating habits that will change our lives.
With an eye to celebrity endorsements (and sometimes investments), 24/7 Tempo has curated a list of “trivial fancies,” dietary and otherwise, that have proven resilient (and non-trivial) enough to achieve genuine renown.