11 of the biggest food and drinks trends of the last decade
10 years ago we'd never heard of the cronut and avo toast hadn't made us broke
It's difficult to fathom a world before we went nuts for Freakshakes, bought up kale at farmers markets and paid $19 for smashed avocado on toast.
Food fads come and go — that's what makes them faddy — but the food scene has changed a lot in the last decade and some trends have made a lasting impact on our lives (hello, millennial forever renters) and so now is the perfect time to revisit the biggest.
Buckle up for a trip down a foodie memory lane where we'll pass the silly (rainbow bagels) to the inventive (the cronut) and the zingingly feel good (acai bowls), or were they?
If we've forgotten any really killer food trends from the past let us know in the comments! There's so many, we may have to make a second list or perhaps just move on.
Smashed avo toast
Photo by Mariana Medvedeva on Unsplash
We're not exactly sure when our love for avocados reached peak obsession, but the stoned fruit became the symbol of millennials everywhere in the last decade and were even blamed as the reason they can’t afford to buy a house.
You probably still treat yourself to this mushed up green goo on sourdough every now and again. After all, it's a staple on brunch menus everywhere. Pret sells it in every branch and both Sainsbury’s and Waitrose sell pre-smashed avo to cut down some prep steps at home. If only the supermarkets could make us pre-toasted bread.
Photo by Athena Kavis on Unsplash
Going with our gut instincts we reckon a jar of kimchi found it's way into your fridge in the last two years, or you started to pickle artichoke at home or became a Sauerkraut superfan. Are we right? Has miso made it in to your morning routine along with lashings of yoghurt?
Not long ago Kombucha was a disgusting fermented tea only hippies drank. That's if we'd heard off it at all. But now Kombucha is pretty widely available as more people want a lower sugar, alcohol-free, grown-up drink.
Fermenting in all its guises went mainstream without us even noticing. The good thing is the yoghurts, teas, soups and cabbage are filled with probiotics to boost gut health and will see our own shelf life soar.
The idea of cauliflower rice, courgetti and boodles were picked up this decade with gusto and dropped pretty quickly by most of us as soon as we realised cleaning a spiralizer is a bit of a nightmare. The good intention was there though.
Swapping pasta and starchy rice for vegetables versions meant we were cutting down on carbs and wheat and still filling ourselves up with nutrients. To make things easier you can still pick up bags of these lower-carb replacements in supermarkets, it's always good to have options.
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The Cronut landed on May 10, 2013 as a croissant-doughnut hybrid pastry invented by New York City pastry chef Dominique Ansel of Dominique Ansel Bakery. By chance, a reporter from New York's Grub Street food blog tried a Cronut, wrote about it and a new mega-star was born.
The bakery soon had 100 people lining up down the street to get their hands on what was then a very limited product. Traffic to the bakery's website increased by more than 300 percent. A craze well and truly rocketed thanks to novelty and mouthwatering flavours such as Sweet Clementine Ricotta, Peanut Butter Rum Caramel and Lemon Maple.
Each batch of Cronuts took Ansel and his team approximately three days to prepare and from the beginning the bakery, in SoHo neighborhood of New York City limited two per order. The demand has faded, but the Cronut craze swept the world before settling down.
You've got kale! We all did at one point. Kale reigned king of all vegetables for a long stretch having been plucked from obscurity by celebrities such as Gwyneth Paltrow who added it to her lifestyle website Goop and it also appeared on a variety of high-profile farm-to-table menus.
Soon we were ordering if in Caesar salads, juicing it into drinks and smoothies and fighting over bunches of the stuff at urban farmers markets. According to the Department of Agriculture, U.S. kale production increased by nearly 60 percent between 2007 and 2012. Even McDonald's began testing kale breakfast bowls in nine California locations. In the UK it was the superfood of choice, peaking around 2017. Now our juicers are clogged with algae and water melon pips.
The açai bowl
Photo by Madison Inouye from Pexels
When the smoothie bowl first hit Instagram around 2015 we all swooned and grabbed a spoon. From açai to goji berries, these deliciously sweet and vibrant blends arrived as solid sources of fibre, rich in antioxidants and full of heart-healthy fatty acids. And the "likes" totted up.
Invented by the Brazilians, adopted by the Hawaii surf crowd and then embraced by the health nuts in major cities such as New York, London and Dubai — in that order — the açai bowl (pronounced: "ah-sah-ee"), soon became everyone's favourite breakfast treat.
With toppings such as banana, blueberries and shredded coconut, sure they taste delicious, but our main obsession was just how darn photogenic they are. Now Pret A Manger serve a version of the bowl and Viva Acai is London’s only dedicated açai bowl cafe.
Two years ago activated charcoal was everywhere: in face masks, whitening toothpastes and sold in tablet, capsule and powder form. Just like CBD oil today, we added it to filtered water, organic lemonades and dairy free lattes. When it was added to ice-creams, noodles and pizza some called it the goth response to fluoro trends like unicorn lattes and rainbow bagels.
The haters will always hate, but many claimed this trendy food supplement cleanse us of toxins, beats bloating and even cures a hangover. The hype was real!
Activated charcoal, also known as activated carbon or coconut ash, isn't what you would find at the bottom of a barbecue. It's most frequently produced by heating coconut shells to extremely high temperatures until they are carbonised.
Judging by twitter the novelty of black as a food colouring hasn't worn off just yet.
Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash
Ever ordered a thick sugar-filled milkshake and thought, wow, there's something missing? Well someone at some point did, because the Freakshake happened.
A monstrous milkshake piled high with whipped cream, ice cream, doughnuts, popcorn, cookies, chocolate and any other sweet treats that will balance – left us with one question – how do you even eat it? Spoon, straw... wrecking ball?
Freakshakes are an Australian invention and found their way from Canberra to Newcastle (the English one) in 2015 and quickly multiplied around the UK at a horrendous rate. When one Yorkshire restaurant threw cheese and pulled pork into the mix the trend reached tipping point.
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It seems unthinkable now, but as recently as 2010, alternatives to cow’s milk largely meant soya. Now Sainbury's stocks 70 different options. There's oat milk, almond milk, hazelnut milk, peanut, walnut, cashew – and that’s just the nuts. Coconut, hemp, spelt, quinoa, pea and even water melon pip milk are also a thing. There's a start-up somewhere milking it right now.
In 2018, the entire US was suffering from a shortage of Oatly, a Swedish plant milk whose rapid rise from obscurity even took the company itself by surprise. Since its US launch in 2016, Oatly is supplying more than 3,000 cafes and grocery stores nationwide. According to research firm Mintel, UK plant milk sales have grown by 30% since 2015.
Then there's all the controversy surrounding alternative milks, the ones to embrace quickly turning into the ones to avoid like the plague. Almond milk is causing deforestation and all sorts of problems in California, soya contains female hormones and apparently makes us fat and don't even get us started on palm oil content in cashew milk. So confusing!
In 2016 the rainbow bagel went viral in a big way. Oh, yet another social media fuelled food trend you say? Well, yes dying everything from bagels to cake gave our Instagram feeds a technicolour wash fro a good few weeks.
The cynics blasted it, saying it did nothing to enhance taste. It's true, the rainbow bagel was a visual marvel that looks like magic, but tastes like a plain bagel. Not that it should (or ever was) taken too seriously either way, we think.
The funny thing is the rainbow bagel has been sold by the Bagel Store in Brooklyn since the 1990s. Reactions on Instagram included: "They look like a unicorn had diarrhea." Quite.
Street food has been a thing for as long as we've had streets, be it hawkers in Singapore or hot dog stands in New York. It's even found its way indoors, thanks to start-ups such as Mexican street food chain Wahaca in the UK.
The Great Food Truck Race premiered on the Food Network in 2010, and thanks to the recession food trucks began popping up at festivals, weddings and city car parks as a mobile, great value, fresher way to enjoy a wide variety of global gourmet bites within a couple of steps.
Many vendors such as Pizza Pilgrims and Meat Liquor, in the UK and LA favourites Roy Choi and Wes Ávila, have opened permanent restaurants and even gotten famous doing it.