A Timeline of Food Trends

  • Chelsea Jones
A Timeline of Food Trends

A Timeline of Food Trends

A Timeline of Food Trends

 What makes you try new foods or new restaurants? Between your co-worker that won’t stop talking about this new low-calorie ice cream he swears by, or your sister promises this new superfood supplement will give you lasting energy, it can be difficult to keep up with all the new emerging food trends. There is no doubt that the food industry has been drastically changing since the days of Spam, Spaghetti-O’s and Sunny D. After Americans had experienced a scarcity of their staple foods like bread and milk during the war, they were ready to jump back into the aisles of the grocery store once the war was over. Every day there seems to be a new food or diet trend. Food is no longer seen as just something to fill your belly with, instead food is taking on a more functional role. People are eating foods that will make their skin clearer, their hair grow faster or accommodate a weak stomach. People want more from their food, they want food to work for them, “According to Food Business News, almost half newly introduced food and beverages launched globally in 2017 made a better for you claim”(Knowbel). With the explosion of the food and fitness community on platforms like Instagram and Twitter, people are sharing their experiences with new foods and diet trends, good and bad on social media. It can be quite a daunting task to keep track of what trend is most popular. With all of the different philosophies and guidelines, we’ve put together a timeline of some of the most popular food trends and diet trends out there.  

The 1950s- The T.V. Dinner

-The 1950s were a time where everyday life was changing, and for the better.  Since the war had just ended, there was a giant relief. The emotional, financial and physical burdens from World War II were slowly being lifted from the shoulders of American families. A “normal” routine was being restored to everyday American life, kids would go to school, parents would go to work, and at the end of the day when everyone got home, dinner was expected to be on the table. The combination of exhausted mothers and hungry families introduced the era of convenience food like Spam and Cheese Wiz, but especially frozen TV dinners.  When these frozen meals hit the shelves of the grocery store, American families thought they had struck the jackpot. A full meal that’s ready in less than 7 minutes that requires little to no preparation or clean up? Put it on the menu every night!

2002- The Paleo Diet

-Dating back the caveman days, the Paleolithic diet or “Paleo” diet takes us back almost 2.5 million years to the Paleolithic era. The Paleo diet embraces the power of simple foods, “A paleo diet typically includes lean meats, fish, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds — foods that in the past could be obtained by hunting and gathering.”(CDC).  This means minimal to no processed foods, processed sugar, and processed beverages, dairy, or even legumes. The Paleo diet became especially popular in 2002 after the release of Dr. Loren Cordain’s book, “The Paleo Diet”. Dr.Cordain started to explore the Paleo diet in the spring of 1981 when she was hired as an assistant professor in the Department of Health and Exercise Science at Colorado State University, “Over the course of the next seven or eight years, I collected more than 25,000 scientific papers and filled five large filing cabinets – each with hundreds of categories dealing with all aspects of Paleo diet and Paleo lifestyle.”(ThePaleoDiet). Cordain published her first book “The Paleo Diet” in 2002, since then, she the Paleo diet has gained popularity with celebrities like Blake Lively, Channing Tatum, and Matthew McConaughey. While most celebrities admit they slip up every now and then and will have some wine and dark chocolate, for the most part, they claim this diet makes them look good, feel good and gives them lasting energy.  

2009- Whole30

-A pretty self-explanatory name, the Whole30 is designed to change the way you look, feel, and think about food in just 30 days. Co-Founder Melissa Hartwig took the food and fitness industry by storm when she first blogged about a 30-day experiment she did with food. Hartwig struggled with substance abuse early in her life, after she completed treatment she submerged herself in the fitness and nutrition community and began working at a crossfit gym. She and her trainer had an idea to challenge themselves to eat as “clean” as they could for 30 days, and thus, Whole30 was born. The Whole30 diet removes all potentially inflammatory foods like added sugar, artificial sweeteners, grains, legumes, dairy products, baked goods, and any other highly processed food and focuses on “Whole30 approved foods” like meats, seafood, veggies, and eggs. Hartwig and other Whole30 enthusiasts claim eating these approved foods has given them more energy, improved their sleep, helped them lose weight and, even relieved some of their medical complications. Hartwig’s book, “The Whole30” hit the shelves in April of 2015 and has sold over a million copies so far. Whole30’s popularity continues to grow, “On Instagram, there are now over 3.5 million posts with #Whole30, and the program has over 600,000 followers on Facebook.”(Montag).

2010- All Things Coconut

-From coconut oil to coconut flour, coconut water, even coconut chips, coconut products are taking over the shelves of grocery stores everywhere. Research suggests that “coconut has been ‘reborn’ as a ‘star ingredient’ in better-for-toy foods and beverages”(Askew).  There is one particular coconut product that the rest of the coconut products have to thank for their rise to stardom, “Attention was also fueled by the rise of coconut water, which prompted people to think afresh about the humble coconut”(Askew). Coconut water started becoming more familiar in the fitness industry when research started suggesting that coconut water hydrates the body more efficiently than normal water, leaving gym rats everywhere reaching for coconut water after their workouts instead of generic sports drinks.  Coconut products have caught the attention of consumers when products like coconut flour and coconut chips came out. These products provided a gluten-free, vegan, and grain-free alternative to those with allergies or those who just wanted to try something new. Debatably one of the most popular coconut products, coconut oil has been stealing the attention from frequent canola oil or corn oil users, “A survey found that 72% of Americans rated coconut oil as “healthy,”( Harvard.edu). Experts believe that coconut oil is high in healthy saturated fats that can boost fat burning and provide the body with fast-acting energy, making coconut oil popular in Keto diets.  Coconut oil is not only becoming a principal on kitchen shelves but bathroom shelves too! Coconut oil is not only great for baking but is becoming a beauty product people can’t live without. From strengthening and shining hair to moisturizing skin to teeth whitening kits that use coconut oil, beauty connoisseurs seem to take a liking to coconut beauty products. Additionally, it probably helps that celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow are big fans of coconut products, “Gwyneth Paltrow uses it for everything. ‘I use coconut oil on my face, on my skin and in my cooking’…. ‘And I just started oil pulling. It’s an ancient technique which is supposed to be great for oral health and make your teeth white. its supposed to clear up your skins as well’” (Financial Times Trend).

2013-Gluten-Free Diets

-Chances are, you know at least a few people who avoid eating gluten.  Gluten-free products seem to be a trend that isn’t slowing down anytime soon.  Whether it’s Celiacs disease, a gluten intolerance, or health reasons, people seem to be ditching their gluttonous cookies and crackers and reaching for the gluten-free option.  Between celebrities raving about their weight loss on the gluten-free diet, to athletes reporting that gluten-free diets improve their performance, Americans have taken quite friendly to this trend, “A 2013 study found that 65% of American adults think gluten-free foods are healthier, and 27% choose gluten-free products to aid in weight loss”(Jones).  Food companies wasted no time creating gluten-free alternatives like pasta, bread, cookies, crackers, and even cakes to suit the needs of their newly anti-gluten audience, “Between 2004 and 2011, the market for gluten-free products grew at an annual rate of 28% (3), with an estimated $2.6 billion in sales in 2012”(Jones). While that number might seem staggering, what’s even more surprising is that majority of people buying these gluten-free products don’t necessarily have Celiacs disease, “The percentage of Americans who follow a gluten-free diet is more than three times higher than the percentage of Americans with celiac disease”(Niernberg).  Celiacs disease occurs when the body can’t properly digest the gluten proteins, when gluten is ingested, it can causes extreme pain and discomfort and can even be life-threatening, but that only makes up a small percentage of the gluten-free community. It is no surprise that celebrities have had a stealthy influence on the gluten-free community. Chelsea Clinton, Justin Timberlake, Emmy Rossum, and even Drew Brees are just a few people in the spotlight who are nixing the bread. Did you know that there wasn’t a single celebrity at the Grammys this year that wasn’t gluten-free?

2017-The Ketogenic Diet

-The Ketogenic diet might seem like a new trend, but it has actually been around since the 1920s to treat epilepsy.  In 1938 diphenylhydantoin, a drug used to control seizures became available and the ketogenic diet was put on the back burner, little did anyone know the Ketogenic diet would miraculously resurface years later.  Also known as the “keto” diet, this diet regime consists of high-fat foods with minimal to no carbohydrates. A common version of the Ketogenic diet is 75 percent of daily calories from fat, 20 from protein and a mere 5 percent from carbs.  In simple words, when an individual has such a low carbohydrate intake, the body enters a state of ketosis. During ketosis, fat is burned off as an energy source and the body creates ketones, which give the body energy when there is an absence of carbohydrates in the body.  The Ketogenic diet has gained popularity through celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow and Tim Tebow who claim the Ketogenic diet has made them not only look great but give them lasting energy, “It’s popular in the mainstream is fairly recent. Looking at online searches, US consumers started profusely Googling for ‘Keto’ in December 2017, the typical time for spikes in diet and wellness related items”(Wiener-Bronner).

2018- Veganism

-The term “vegan” or “veganism” can often intimidate many because of how restricting it sounds.  Surprisingly, more people seem to be more fascinated than intimidated by this new trend. A 2018 study found, “There’s been a 600% increase in people identifying as vegans in the U.S. in the last three years.”(Kelly).  A vegan is someone who does not consume any animal products. This means no meat or dairy, some vegans even refrain from using leather products or products like shampoo or certain soaps that test on animals. Like any other lifestyle change, there are numerous reasons people go vegan, Figure1 shows the reasons why people choose to give up meat alone.  While this lifestyle might seem crazy to some, the food industry has adapted fast, offering more plant-based alternatives to meat and dairy. Almost every grocery store now has a decent selection of items like veggie nuggets, vegan ice cream, veggie burgers, vegan butter spreads, and even meatless deli slices. And of course, no food trend would be complete without some celebrity endorsement.  Ellen DeGeneres, Portia DeRossi, Natalie Portman, even Mike Tyson are just a few of the many public figures who have chosen a vegan lifestyle. Degeneres went vegan in 2008 after being convinced by several animal rights books, “she says she does it ‘because I love animals’”(Lynch). DeGeneres and DeRossi’s wedding even offered a vegan option at their wedding!

Figure1 (Source: Simpleplatform.com)

2018-2019 and Beyond-Digestive health foods

-From Kombucha to Keifer, to probiotic ice-cream, you can pretty much find any food your heart desires with probiotics in them.  But what exactly are probiotics and what do they do for us? The word bacteria is usually associated with negativity and diseases, but it turns out some bacteria are beneficial, especially for gut health.  Your intestines might not be a part of your body you think about often but, “there are a greater number of bacteria in your intestines than there are cells in your body.”(Mayo Clinic). Of course, a great deal of this bacteria is bad bacteria, that’s where probiotics come in.  Probiotics or “good bacteria” help balance out the immense amount of bad bacteria in your intestines. Our bodies aren’t capable of making all the good bacteria we need, so we need to get this good bacteria on our own from the foods we eat. Not only do probiotics keep our guts healthy, but they can also help improve symptoms for diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, and vaginal infections.  The probiotic craze is just getting started, “The consultancy New Nutrition Business identified digestive wellness as its No. 1 trend for 2019, and The Kroger Co., Cincinnati, listed gut-healthy foods as one of its five leading trends heading into the new year.”(Nunes).

Have you tried any of these food trends?  If so, which ones did you like and which ones would you never do again?  While some of these food trends might seem crazy or extreme to some people, it’s one of the reasons we here at Rollingreens love being a part of the natural food industry. We think its pretty awesome that food companies as well as motivated individuals, are constantly innovating and experimenting with  new ways to help people live better lives through diets while also accommodating taste preferences, lifestyle habits, and food allergies.

Askew, K. (2017, September 01). What next for coconut’s millennial appeal? Retrieved from https://www.foodnavigator.com/Article/2017/09/01/What-next-for-coconut-s-millennial-appeal#

Coconut Oil. (2018, July 25). Retrieved from https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/food-features/coconut-oil/.

Jones A. L. (2017). The Gluten-Free Diet: Fad or Necessity?. Diabetes spectrum : a publication of the American Diabetes Association, 30(2), 118-123.

Kelly, T. (2018, June 26). Veganism is at an All-Time High: Is it A Fleeting Fad or The New Norm? Retrieved from https://www.singleplatform.com/blog/the-rise-of-veganism-a-fleeting-fad-or-the-new-norm

Knoebel, A. (2018, December 18). Gut Health and Functional Foods Top Charts of 2019 Food Trends. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/arielknoebel/2018/12/18/gut-health-and-functional-foods-top-charts-of-2019-food-trends/#1045a7a6ea4a

Lynch, S. (2018, October 08). 24 Celebrities You Didn’t Know Were Vegan. Retrieved from https://www.delish.com/food-news/g3539/vegan-celebrities/

Nierenberg, C. (2016, September 06). Gluten-Free Diets Surge in Popularity, Yet Celiac Rates Remain Stable. Retrieved from https://www.livescience.com/55993-gluten-free-diets-increase-while-celiac-rates-remain-stable.html

Nunes, K. (n.d.). Digestive health a top trend heading into 2019. Retrieved from https://www.foodbusinessnews.net/articles/12959-digestive-health-a-top-trend-heading-into-2019

OriginalPaleoDiet. (2017, November 30). A Brief History of the Contemporary Paleo Diet Movement. Retrieved from https://thepaleodiet.com/a-brief-history-of-the-contemporary-paleo-diet-movement/

Subscribe to the FT to read: Financial Times Trend: Coconut oil. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.ft.com/content/4ac105f4-509f-11e5-8642-453585f2cfcd

What are probiotics? (2017, April 14). Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/what-are-probiotics/art-20232589

Wiener-Bronner, D. (n.d.). The keto craze is hitting the mainstream. Retrieved from https://money.cnn.com/2018/09/17/news/companies/keto-diet-trend/index.html

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