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The rise of social media has paved the way for the rise (and fall) of endless viral food trends across the internet. With many of these originating as Youtube, Instagram, and Tiktok food videos reach peak popularity, these trends are ever evolving reflections of pop culture. While some sound genuinely delicious and may have changed appetites for the better, the vast majority are more than questionable. Below, we revisit some of the internet’s most memorable food trends.
The Cinnamon Challenge: This challenge went viral in 2011, encouraging people to try their best to eat an entire spoonful of cinnamon in under a minute. More often than not, the participant either choked on the cinnamon or spit out a messy brown cloud. The danger of this trend is something that internet culture has attempted to recreate time and again. It goes without saying that no matter how much of a cinnamon lover you are, you should not try this trend at home.
Spicy foods: The trend of eating spicy peppers on the internet peaked in 2012 but continues to reappear every few years. Starting with the “Ghost Pepper Challenge'' but even working up to the Carolina Reaper, individuals pushed their level of spice tolerance in extreme and dangerous ways. Spicy foods in media are still extremely mainstream, with artisan hot sauces still being in the limelight of food culture and youtube series such as “Hot Ones” still raking in millions of views with each video.
Honorable mentions include the more dangerous saltine challenge, sprite and banana challenge, and the harrowing Tide-Pod challenge,
Healthy (Green) Trends
Avocado everything: It is no surprise that avocado made it onto this list. With a need to put avocado on seemingly everything, millennials in particular defined this trend (particularly with the rise of avocado toast as a 21st century breakfast staple).
Açai bowls: These bowls have become a representation of peak health for the self branded “gurus” of the internet. Typically consisting of a blended açai berry base, topped with bananas, strawberries, blueberries, and granola, the appeal of these bowls of sugar is obvious.
Honorable mentions for this category include chia seed everything, kale, kombucha, and fermented foods in general.
Trends within the last month
Corn: The corn kid has taken the internet by storm. A viral sensation complete with songs and interviews, the endearing nature of the corn kid has encouraged many to find the simple beauty in a food that so many take for granted.
Butter Boards: Essentially glorified sticks of butter, smeared across a board, and topped with beautiful seasonings, vegetables, fruits, and more. This brand new iteration of charcuterie boards began with TikTok user Justine_Snacks and has prompted everything from bagel boards to seafood spinoffs.
NyQuil Chicken: Even the attention of the FDA can’t get the internet to leave the dangerous food trends that it loves in the past. The NyQuil chicken is what it sounds like: a large chunk of chicken cooked in a very dangerous amount of cold medicine. This one should be avoided for obvious reasons.
Pumpkin spice everything: With a culture in love with Starbucks, many cafe-related trends rely on its marketing at the time. The pumpkin spiced latte is no different. With a reliable consistency, it is almost guaranteed that autumn consumers will easily find massive arrays of pumpkin flavored pastries, treats, and of course, the drink itself.
Whipped dalgona coffee: Consisting purely of sugar, hot water, and instant coffee, this is one of the trends from this list that readers are more likely to have tried themselves. Generally, this is then placed on top of a glass of iced milk to create a deliciously refreshing beverage.
Honorable mentions that continue to fuel this caffeine addicted section include the internet’s rendition of the Starbucks pink drink, matcha, and the rise of cold brew.
Rainbow bagel: Rainbow pastries rose to their peak of fame in 2016. Inspiring rainbow related feelings of joy and happiness, this trend really took off with the virality of the rainbow bagel being sold by the New York City Bagel Bakery. These bagels inspired a wave of rainbow foods such as the rainbow grilled cheese.
Japanese cheesecake: Loved for its fluffiness and jiggly nature, Japanese cheesecake took the U.S. by storm. Created by whisking the egg whites separately before incorporating them into the mixture, this rich, sweet, eggy treat deserves the love it receives.
Video content on the internet has truly changed how we consume food as a society. This trip down memory lane reveals just how quickly these trends come and go. It’s easy to see many of these as ridiculous, unnecessary, or downright dangerous in hindsight; however, the cultural fascination that they have created will likely persist.
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