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- When it comes to the last decade’s most popular food trends, there are some we’d like to forget ever happened.
- From milkshakes topped with cake slices and candy to pumpkin-spice-flavored Spam, some food trends simply took things too far.
- Other food products, like coconut oil or celery juice, were revealed to be far less healthy than followers of these trends initially thought.
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Most of us are guilty of buying into a food trend every now and then.
Whether you indulged in the frozen yogurt craze of the 2010s or started every morning with a glass of celery juice during the summer of 2019, some food trends are better than others in terms of health benefits or taste.
We looked back at the biggest food trends that we hope stay in the last decade, from “bacon mania” to the rise of unicorn-themed foods. While many of these food trends are now on their way out, others are still going strong.
Here are 15 of the worst food trends of the last decade.
Lettuce-wrapped burgers can be a good option for people trying to lower their carb intake, but that doesn’t mean these modified burgers are healthy — or even taste good.
- Erin McDowell/Business Insider
Removing the buns from your burger can cut around 200 calories from your meal. However, many keto-friendly fast-food burgers are still loaded with cheese, bacon, and processed meat. While wrapping your burger in lettuce was certainly trendy during the height of the keto craze of the 2010s and may still be a good option for low-carb eaters, they don’t necessarily make for a low-calorie lunch.
Bacon was added to practically every food throughout the decade, from mayonnaise to ice cream, doughnuts, and even vodka.
- Erin McDowell
There’s nothing better than crispy strips of bacon in the morning. However, one of the biggest food trends of the last decade, known colloquially as “bacon mania,” took bacon to an obsessive level.
From bacon-flavored ice cream to bacon-infused mayonnaise and alcohol, food lovers couldn’t get enough of the meaty treat. People have since largely moved on to healthier trends, opting for “superfoods” and trendy diets.
Avocado toast is a hallmark of millennial food trends. However, we don’t really see what’s so great about overpriced green mush on a piece of bread.
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Avocado toast is one of the most pervasive food trends of the last decade. According to Time, avocado toast sales skyrocketed between 2014 and 2017, and the food trend doesn’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon.
Millennials caught some flack for the food item’s popularity, however, when it was reported that young people were spending as much as $19 a pop on smashed avocado toast. While avocado toast actually costs around $6.78 on average, according to Square, it’s our opinion that this food trend is simply not worth the money.
Coconut oil was hailed as a miraculous alternative to olive oil. However, it was soon revealed it actually wasn’t much better for you.
- Irene Jiang / Business Insider
According to the New York Times, coconut oil is extremely high in saturated fatty acids, which have been linked to high cholesterol levels and heart disease. Compared to one tablespoon of olive oil, a tablespoon of coconut oil contains about six times the amount of saturated fat. One Harvard professor has even called the oil “pure poison.”
“Unicorn food” dominated food trends in the late 2010s. However, this food trend quickly died out as people moved on from crazy-colorful meals and beverages.
- REUTERS/Mohammad Khursheed
Lovers of this mystical trend added horns, edible glitter, and pastel accents to pizza, cupcakes, and milkshakes throughout much of 2017.
Perhaps the most iconic symbol of the “unicorn food” trend, however, was Starbucks’ Unicorn Frappuccino. The viral drink took over Instagram despite only being available at Starbucks locations for five days in April 2017.
Kombucha has been called a delicious remedy for a number of health issues, but there isn’t significant evidence to prove the drink is actually beneficial.
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Kombucha exploded onto the scene in 2010 and is expected to continue growing in popularity over the next five years. While some people love the organic drink for its claims to aid in digestion, others are turned off by its live probiotics and odor.
There also isn’t substantive scientific evidence to prove kombucha’s claimed health benefits, according to Time.
Gluten-free food is a good alternative for people with celiac disease or gluten intolerance. However, simply switching to gluten-free versions of packaged foods isn’t any healthier than the real thing.
While gluten-free foods were a huge trend throughout the decade, research on how these alternatives affect the body is mixed. Gluten-free diets can save those with celiac disease or gluten intolerances a lot of pain and digestive problems. However, for people without those issues, going on a gluten-free diet has no real benefits.
According to Daniel Leffler, an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, “People who are sensitive to gluten may feel better, but a larger portion will derive no significant benefit from the practice. They’ll simply waste their money, because these products are expensive.”
Celery juice became massively popular in the spring and summer of 2019, but it’s not as beneficial as many people thought.
Described as a “miracle superfood” by New York Times bestselling author Anthony William, celery juice was touted as a remedy for improving gut health, fighting cancer, clearing the skin, flushing out viruses, and more. However, experts argue the drink doesn’t have many more benefits than drinking water – despite costing a lot more at the grocery store or local juice bar.
“There’s no research to support the idea that drinking celery juice on an empty stomach helps with digestion,” Rachael Hartley, a certified intuitive eating counselor, told Business Insider. “Most of the digestive health claims I found cited a rat study that was done using celery extract to treat gastric ulcers, but it’s a big leap to say that means drinking celery juice will help with digestions in humans.”
Charcoal-flavored foods became a huge food trend in 2017, but experts say it may not be beneficial to ingest activated charcoal.
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While charcoal-infused lattes and other trendy foods may look beautiful on Instagram, the food trend should definitely be left behind in the last decade. While some believe activated charcoal may cleanse the body of toxins, experts disagree, saying the substance may actually absorb helpful nutrients like calcium and potassium.
“Charcoal can bind toxins, but when it’s added to ice cream or pizza crust, it loses practically all of its benefits,” Lorraine Kearney, a sugar detox expert and the owner of New York City Nutrition, told Business Insider. “This is an example of a marketing ploy which tries to monetize off of fad diets and the latest in trendy food objects. When trying to eat healthier, it’s better to consume whole fruits, vegetables, and grains, rather than looking for a ‘quick fix’ on social media.”
Pumpkin-spiced everything dominated the last decade, but we’re getting a little tired of the obsession with the fall flavor.
- Hollis Johnson
From the iconic Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte to pumpkin-flavored Spam, bagels, and even dog food, the world has become undeniably obsessed with pumpkin-spice-flavored products. According to Nielsen, pumpkin spice product sales in 2018 totaled $488.8 million. However, while pumpkin spice lattes will most likely continue to be popular year after year, consumers can probably do without the pumpkin spice overload in supermarkets come September and October.
Kale appeared on menus everywhere in 2011, after Goop founder Gwyneth Paltrow taught the world how to make kale chips on “Ellen.” However, the leafy green may be diminishing in popularity.
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While many health fanatics praised kale as a superfood, others have remarked on the leafy green’s bitter taste and rough texture, which needs to be “massaged” while raw. According to recent data from the Produce Market Guide, eight million fewer pounds of kale were sold in America in 2017 than in 2016, representing a 6% drop in national sales volume and indicating that this food trend is on its way out.
Açaí bowls were thought to be an aesthetically pleasing and fruit-packed breakfast. However, these beautiful bowls are often overpriced and loaded with sugar.
Açaí bowls were thought to be a healthy breakfast or snack packed with antioxidants and health benefits. However, this trendy food is stocked full of sugar and calories. One açaí bowl made with peanut butter or chocolate, fruits, and nuts can end up being around 900 calories. While this trend is certainly delicious, we can see it being left behind as nothing more than a fad of the 2010s.
“The actual açaí berry does have antioxidant qualities,” Kearney told Business Insider. “However, when you break down or mash up fruit, you’re breaking down the fiber as well. Then, when you add chocolate, Nutella, and other sweeteners, you’re getting a sugar rush and excess calories you don’t need.”
Kearney said that while you may feel great or energized after eating an açaí bowl, this is likely due to the sugar content, which will inevitably lead to a crash.
Over-the-top milkshakes, or “freakshakes,” are expensive, unhealthy, and, frankly, hard to eat.
- Yelp/Evangeline M.
Milkshakes loaded with cookies, full cake slices, and cotton candy may make for the perfect Instagram photo. However, this food trend is one we hope stays behind in the 2010s. Not only are these over-the-top desserts loaded with calories and sugar, they’re also messy and expensive. Other than making for a great photo, we can’t really see the benefits of indulging in these milkshake monstrosities in the coming decade.
Frozen yogurt stores grew in popularity by 17.8% between 2010 and 2015, but the sweet food trend has since gone cold.
- Michael Buckner/Getty Images
While frozen yogurt sales grew between 2010 and 2015, by the end of that period the treat’s popularity began to wane. By the end of 2014, many Pinkberry stores, which had become a symbol of a movement partly fueled by Hollywood actresses and socialites, had closed.
While the trend was seen as a healthier dessert option than regular ice cream, frozen yogurt oftentimes isn’t healthier than ice cream.
“People don’t realize that it often has more sugar than ice cream,” Dana Kofsky, a California-based nutritionist, told Daily Burn. “In order to get rid of the tart taste, [frozen yogurt companies often] add sugar.”
Plant-based fast-food burgers might seem like a delicious, easy option for vegetarians and vegans. However, this food trend might not be all it’s cracked up to be.
- Joey Hadden/Business Insider
While cooking plant-based burgers at home might be a good option for vegetarians and vegans, fast-food versions of the plant-based “meat” are not much healthier than the original versions. Also, many “meat-free” fast-food burgers are not 100% vegan or vegetarian.