Special Report

The Biggest Fads and Trends in Food and Drink Since 2010

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Rosé used to be dismissed as an uninteresting wine category, a simple summer quaff or an easy choice when you couldn’t decide between red or white. Today, it’s hot. Though it’s made in virtually every wine-producing country, French rosé seems to be the category leader. It started gaining popularity in the early 2000s, but really took off about four years ago — showing a 33.9% increase in sales in the 52-week period ending in May of this year alone. It “has benefited from its positioning as a gender-neutral beverage, which opens the door to more occasions and consumers, such as brunch,” says IWSR, an alcohol trend-watching site. Both regular and sparkling rosé have maintained double-digit growth since 2014. Part of rosé‘s success can be attributed to the fad for frosé — frozen rosé, either plain or blended into a kind of slushie with various fruits and even vodka added — though that drink’s popularity seemed to peak after the summer of 2018.

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Recreational marijuana use is now legal in 11 states (the first of these, Washington, took the step in 2014) and the District of Columbia, and possession of small amounts has been decriminalized in a number of places. There are plenty of options for those who want to enjoy the pleasant effects of the drug but prefer not to smoke, as cannabis now appears in everything from candies and baked goods to vitamins to beverages (including wine). Sales of edibles in the U.S. are projected to reach $21.6 billion by 2021.

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CBD foods

Cannabidiol, known for short as CBD, is a non-psychoactive ingredient of cannabis. In other words, it won’t get you high — but it is said to have a myriad of health benefits, relieving anxiety, insomnia, various aches and pains, and more. It started to get really big only last year — perhaps, mused the New York Times, when Mandy Moore announced that she used it to relieve the pain of wearing high heels, or when Willie Nelson introduced a line of CBD-infused coffee beans, or when Dr. Sanjay Gupta touted it on “The Dr. Oz Show.” While its use is controlled in some places — New York City, for instance, bans its use by restaurants and bars — CBD is now added not just to the Red-Headed Stranger’s coffee but to bottled water, cereal, popcorn, honey, matcha, gummies, and cookie dough bites, among many other foods and beverages.

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Bowl food

Eating food out of a bowl…what a concept. We’re not talking about soup or chili or cereal — old-school bowl food. What became a full-fledged trend around 2016 was the idea of arranging various foods, usually in colorful contrast, in a bowl, in ways that seemed to not quite be salad form. Hawaii’s poke (see below) was an earlier bowl ingredient, dating from around the 1970s, though it’s not always served in bowls. The more recent iteration has two main variations: the so-called Buddha bowl, a combination of grains — quinoa is a quintessential bowl constituent — with an assortment of cooked or raw vegetables; and the açaí bowl, a kind of partial-smoothie combining a purée or powder of that faddish South American fruit with yogurt or milk and various fresh fruits, nuts, etc. A variation is the goji bowl, with the berry of that name, long used in traditional Chinese medicine, added to bowls in place of or sometimes in addition to açaí berries. Bowls are so popular that they were part of the menu at Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s 2018 wedding — though in that case they were filled with things like pea and mint risotto with pea shoots, truffle oil, and parmesan crisps.

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Middle Eastern food

Whole Foods predicted in 2017 that Middle Eastern cuisine — largely vegetable-focused and quintessentially Mediterranean — would be one of the top food trends of 2018, citing hummus, pita, and falafel as entry points. Though the trend started some years earlier, they were clearly right. The spice mixture called za’atar is appearing on more restaurant menus and grocery store shelves, while tahini (sesame paste) is going mainstream in smoothies, cocktails, baked goods, and more. Such chains as Cava, Roti, Taïm, Hummus & Pita Co., and Zöe’s Kitchen — all serving Middle Eastern-style dishes to a greater or lesser extent — are proliferating. Upscale Middle Eastern restaurants like Bavel in Los Angeles, Nur and Ilili in New York City, Zahav in Philadelphia, and Saba in New Orleans are thriving.