Food fads, like fashion fads, come and go throughout the decades. While there is plenty to gain by introducing a novel food item or concept, even those that succeed often don’t last long.
A food fad is not to be mistaken with a food trend. There’s actually a clear-cut difference between the two. A food trend is something that’s consistent with lifestyle trends, grows gradually over time, with multiple brands and companies attempting to benefit from the trend. A food fad, on the other hand, is much more impulsive and is typically only produced by one brand. The product, or recipe, generates a hype and does well for a short amount of time, just so it can dwindle off into obscurity.
The team at 24/7 Wall St. scoped out food fads since the 1920s to find the hottest one from each decade.
The fads vastly vary between the decades, and the selections include meals, snacks, and beverages. Several food fads are reflective of historical events of the time. For example, in the 1930s, a food fad was a recipe called mock apple pie, which — surprise — doesn’t actually consist of real apples. Instead, the filling is made of Ritz crackers, lemon juice, and a whole lot of sugar. Since this was the decade of the Great Depression, families were surviving off the bare minimum and utilizing everything in their pantries to whip up a substantial meal — or dessert.
As for the 2010s, it’s hard to pinpoint what’s a fad or what’s a trend seeing as the decade has yet to conclude. However, what we do know is that one person — Chef Dominique Ansel of New York City — created the Cronut pastry in 2013. The Cronut, a hybrid between a croissant and donut, is a registered trademark of Dominique Ansel Bakery. The pastry certainly stirred media hype, with articles about the launch of the buttery treat published in various publications. It even has its own hashtag on Instagram. It’s no question the pastry is a hit now, but only time will tell if its success will persist throughout the remainder of the decade and beyond.
To identify food fads from each decade, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed popular recipes and food products from every decade since 1920. A food fad abruptly attracted viral attention for a brief amount of time. Before the internet, this would just be a food that was popular via word of mouth or ads in various media. Food fads include foods produced by a single brand with limited appeal such as the Cronut or rainbow-colored bagels. While some foods from earlier decades are still around today, they are not nearly as much of a sensation as they were back in their specific decade.