The difference between a trend and a fad is that trends can stick around for many years while fads come and go. In the realm of entertainment, for instance, casino slots have been popular for more than 100 years, but Tamagotchis are just a fading memory. When it comes to fads and trends, probably nothing spawns more of them than food. One of the weirdest food fads in history was in the 1930s, when people just couldn’t get enough of congealed salads. Also known as Jell-O salads, they were basically anything a person could put inside a mould and seal over with Jell-O. For people today, the results look pretty gross, but back then it was the Great Depression, so people were only too happy to entertain concepts that would distract them from their problems. So they feasted on recipes like “Spanish Jell-O Salad”, a treat made from lemon Jell-O, pimientos, pickles, celery, white cabbage, lemon Jello-O and vinegar, and an “Oriental Compote” consisting of peaches, cooked rice, peach juice, and Jell-O. People haven’t changed much since then, though – they’re still keen on new things that take their minds off their worries, and some of the food trends current today would have had the folks of the Depression Era scratching their heads at contemporary antics. Will they be fads or will they be trends? Let’s take a look.
All that glitters
When everybody and their precious little dog are serving up the same type of product, it pays to go the extra mile and whip up something a little different. For instance, there’s a world of difference between a Vegas fruit machine and the latest casino games, which can be as entertaining as movie. When it comes to coffee, though, there’s not much a person can do with the basic product, so enterprising minds must reach for other measures. In 2017, a Mumbai coffee chain called Coffee By Di Bella made the news when they started serving some rather special cappucinos tarted up with edible glitter! A UK coffee chain picked up on the glitter gimmick and started jazzing up their fizzy drinks with gold glitter. It isn’t entirely clear how well the patron’s guts process the shiny stuff, but it’s more about the selfies anyway.
Plant burgers and tree goats
The stereotype of the vegan who is all too keen to share their lifestyle choices with the helpless listener is as unfair as any other stereotype, but now there is actually a great reason for vegans to share and that’s because of the shift towards food that looks, tastes and feels like meat but is actually produced from plant-based sources. Even Burger King is selling a burger without a trace of animal protein, so chances are that there’s a big change in the air as far as cattle breeding is concerned. Unfortunately, at present, there are other concerns with plant-based meat than where it comes from, and that’s the chemicals used in the meat-cloning process. Plant-based isn’t necessarily healthy just yet. What’s weird about this? Well, the folk of the 1930s would most likely have thought it plain madness to spend money on converting edible plants to meat. They might have seen the sense in eating jackfruit, though – a plant-based alternative to meat that can be eaten raw, dried, fried or turned into jam. When done right, it tastes like meat – which is why in Bengal it’s known as “tree goat”. or, when it’s prepared the right way, it’s a strangely accurate substitute for pulled pork. It’s also pretty good when it comes to substituting for something like mutton, and in Bengali households — where it’s been used as a staple for generations — it’s even known as “tree goat.”
Watch yourself eat
Watching videos of people doing other things has become quite common – the game streaming platform Twitch is pretty huge and people will even watch other people play slots online – but watching other people eat? Some might think that this is genuinely weird. Mukbang is a practice that started in South Korea around 2008 and has only gained in popularity – so it’s definitely a trend, not a fad. The mukbang phenomenon is quite easy to define – it’s basically videos of people eating food. Ambient background noises and lots of noisy chewing, biting, slurping – depending on the food in question – are what this supposedly hypnotic genre of entertainment consist of. Mukbang is far from being a fringe concern – there are even mukbang stars like Bethany Gaskin, who was profiled by the New York Times, no less, in 2019, to celebrate reaching one million subscribers on YouTube. Bethany’s mukbang video gig, or “ministry” as she calls it, has made her a millionaire. Feeling hungry?