Stupid Food Trends That Are Past Their Expiration Date

There's nothing the food industry likes more than a new trend, each one providing an abundance of new recipes, restaurants, chefs, and opinions to put on the pages of magazines and in the mouths of critics. And while some trends lead us to broaden our minds and palates, others just lead us off a cliff like so many obsessed lemmings. Here are a few of the worst food trends that we're happy to cram into the disposal.

Jell-O salad

Salad isn't particularly interesting, but at least it's honest. Jell-O salad however is definitely "interesting," but there isn't an honest bone in it's body—you can tell by how wobbly it is. A serious contender for the biggest crime in cooking, the Jell-O salad starts with Jell-O and then goes wherever the maker wants it too, be that candy, marshmallows, salad cream (a UK staple), mayo, occasionally vegetables, or all of the above if you're feeling really crazy. Jell-O salad was born in the 1950s and probably should have stayed there, but it's still occasionally seen in midwest potlucks and barbecues, where the '50s haven't quite gone out of fashion.


If you're just not satisfied unless your food comes with second degree burns to your mouth, then fondue is for you. Usually paired with bad fashions on 1960s magazine covers, fondue is the bizarre communal ritual of taking random lumps of whatever-takes-your-fancy and dipping it into a pot filled with molten cheese using a long fork. Since the cheese is kept molten by placing a candle underneath the pot, it comes out hot enough to make the devil proud. Then you're left with the choice of holding it until it cools while dripping molten cheese on the table and yourself, or putting it straight in your mouth and never tasting anything ever again. For some reason, this sadomasochistic ritual was a favorite of dinner parties—because nothing says fun like a meal that absorbs dignity faster than reality television.

Space food

The food NASA sends into space is designed to address the challenges of space travel, namely limits on weight and space. This means that it is often freeze dried or heavily processed to achieve maximum calories for minimum anything else. While it's true that space food represents the cutting edge of something, that something is not culinary excellence. Which makes you wonder why people were so keen to eat the stuff. It's almost as if space food represents a step on the way to a magical future of food pills. Unfortunately that future probably includes soylent green. In truth, the whole space food fad was probably a secret effort by NASA to take the shine off being an astronaut. It must have been successful, because they never bothered to release NASA brand calcium-enriched bottled water...from actual astronauts.


The origin of the cupcake seems to have been convenience, doing away with utensils and plates by creating a single serving cake you can hold in your hands. Unfortunately it went from being an innocent little treat at a kid's birthday party and turned into a giant mutated pop culture conquering food trend. Cupcakes are the Godzilla of food. The success of cupcakes is probably down to a mixture of celebrity attention and a childlike attraction to bright colors and lots of sugar. And although food "experts" have declared the cupcake trend dead, it stumbles along like a zombie horde: oblivious, unhealthy, and wearing excessive makeup.

Table side service

Another one to add to the "not dead but should be" list, table side service is perfect for anyone who wants to talk to their date as little as possible. Table side service gives you the opportunity to turn that 'awkward silence while the waiter fills your wine glass' into an extended feature of the meal. As if watching the guacamole being mixed or your steak being fried added anything to the meal except cost. Most people go out to dinner to get away from the chores of cooking and focus on the company, hopefully with a discreet server who knows when to get lost. But order any food that comes with table side service and you're turning what should be an invisible luxury into that guy on the bus who talks to you when you're obviously trying to read a book.

Paleo diet

The Paleo diet definitely doesn't exist anymore, because it stopped being a thing 10,000 years ago at the end of the paleolithic era. And the thing about the paleolithic diet is that it wasn't a diet in the modern sense of health food and weight loss, but in the sense of "there's nothing else to eat." Anyone who chooses to go paleo in the 21st century is either the gullible victim of a food guru's sales pitch, or an incurably romantic fantasist—because anyone who looks to hunter-gatherers as examples of a healthy lifestyle obviously didn't get to the part where they all die in their thirties.


If Superman was a super-man in the way that kale is a "super food," he would have all the same powers, but look like the elephant man with a bad case of halitosis. Kale might contain more vitamins and minerals than your average vegetable, but in order to get them you have to actually eat it...and that's a problem. And it's not like you can just throw it into anything to add bulk like a carrot, or zucchini, because along with all those vitamins comes "flavor." It's a bit like an anti-salt, making anything you add it to taste just a little bit worse.

Pumpkin-spiced anything

When October rolls around every year, it brings a bunch of pumpkin-flavored trash it picked up on the way. And every year we hope it's the last time it does. It's as if Americans are so in love with Halloween that they will buy anything with even a secondhand connection to it: pumpkin-spiced lattes, pumpkin-spiced beer, pumpkin-spiced cupcakes...the list goes on. Popsugar found 124 different pumpkin spiced food items to try out in 2015, every one of which was probably doing just fine before the pumpkin came along. It's almost like the food industry is that well-meaning relative that sees you looking at a figurine of a cross eyed dachshund, and, after mistaking your look of disturbed amusement for pleasure, buys you one every year for your birthday. The list of pumpkin-flavored foods should start with an actual pumpkin and end with pumpkin pie, no more, no less.