The start of the 2020s—marked by the COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath—changed how we eat. Early lockdowns made home kitchens, gardens, and pantries the new centers of culinary culture, and the rise of TikTok democratized recipe creation, turning home cooks into trendsetters.
But not every change was welcome. Some trends should stay right where they are in 2023. In 2024, it’s time to let these nine trendy dishes, gadgets, and conversations go so that others can shine.
Overpriced tinned fish
If Girl Dinner was the meal of the year, tinned fish was the centerpiece. Rising food prices turned diners toward budget staples, and suddenly tinned sardines, salmon, mackerel, and other salty swimmers became unlikely superfoods on TikTok. “It’s a great weeknight dinner protein option for people who may not want to go to the grocery store, or people in small kitchens who are weary of smells and spatters,” says Molly Baz, a recipe developer, video host, and cookbook author.
Now, some high-end companies are capitalizing on the trend with ever-fancier products (like a can of sardines, packed with gold leaf, selling for $44 a pop). But quality doesn’t always increase alongside price, Baz says. “There’s a lot of really nicely branded tinned fish that actually isn’t prepared and packaged properly.” Resist the urge to grab the prettiest tin off the shelf; she suggests stopping by a small grocer to ask for recommendations.
The Ninja Creami
Most people probably don’t need a $200 machine with only one function. But that didn’t stop the Ninja Creami—a specialized blender with descending blades capable of turning a frozen brick of anything into a rich slush—from becoming one of the more popular appliance trends of the year. It was sold out at many retailers nearly all summer as the hashtag #ninjacreami racked up more than 800 million views on TikTok. In the Creami, its proponents promised, nearly anything could become soft-serve—you just have to remember to freeze your ingredients in the proprietary cup 24 hours beforehand, eat it all in one sitting so it doesn’t reharden in the freezer, give up a sizeable chunk of prime kitchen-counter real estate, clean a bunch of pieces, and listen to what sounds like a low-flying jet engine run for up to 10 minutes.
The Creami represents a trend of highly specialized (and expensive) kitchen gadgets that lend themselves to easy impulse purchasing—probably because they looked cool on TikTok. Many are now collecting dust. “If you don’t want to eat ice cream and you want frozen fruit, make a smoothie,” says Meredith Hayden, the chef and recipe developer behind the popular food blog and TikTok page Wishbone Kitchen.
Water bottle collections
First, it was Hydroflask. Then Yeti. Then Stanley. Now, the water bottle brand du jour is Owalla. This year, thanks in part to the rise of flavored #watertok on TikTok, we got a glimpse into the lives of people who collect water bottles like they’re building sets of trading cards. Some influencers boast shelves lined with every color a brand offers—sometimes upwards of 100 bottles.
Stockpiling the very item that most symbolizes reduced consumption is more than a little ironic. Just remember: A New Year’s resolution to drink more water is just as achievable with a bottle you already own.
ChatGPT can do a lot of things, but it can’t cook. All it takes is five minutes with the AI service to realize that its creative capacity is limited when it comes to the culinary arts. When presented with a theme or a list of ingredients, ChatGPT tends to go for the lowest common denominator: simple recipes and menus that aren’t going to knock anyone’s socks off. (Usually a stir fry.)
Successful recipe creation requires serious trial and error. “I have to make something a bunch of times before the recipe is worked out,” says Jeanine Donofrio, a recipe developer, author, and creator of the vegetarian haven Love and Lemons. In contrast, a machine-generated recipe will almost always be lacking.
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Olive-oil coffee made its 2023 debut when Starbucks released the “Oleato” first in Italy, then in the U.S. The line of drinks—which include coffee infused with a spoonful of olive oil—soon hit meme status, with content creators tasting them on video. “It was not for me,” says Baz, who tried the drink and calls it “greasy.”
One issue for some drinkers: Olive oil has a laxative effect, and coffee isn’t much better in that arena. We’ll let you guess what happened to some of the people who tried it.
Cottage cheese desserts
If there’s one trend that best capped off food media’s great transformation into a video-first medium, it was cottage cheese cookie dough. The idea of making treats with lower-calorie and higher-protein ingredients is nothing new, but for years, these types of recipes have been designed to mimic taste above all else, and can sometimes come out looking less than appealing.
With cottage cheese, TikTok creators flipped the script. The desserts it starred in—like cheesecake, ice cream, cake, pudding, and the famous edible cookie dough—looked really good. “It was so exciting, because the mixture itself looked so convincing,” says Donofrio. “It was so smooth and creamy. And then I dipped my spoon in, and it was so disappointing.”
Hayden, who enjoys cottage cheese in savory dishes, says she thinks constantly about new ways recipe developers can convey taste through video. “It’s so easy to make food look like it tastes good, and the viewer is never going to know,” she says. Ultimately, she suspects the answer to disappointments like cottage cheese desserts is that demonstrating consistency and reliability will be more necessary than ever for recipe developers in 2024.
We’re calling it now: For 2024, nonstick is out, and steel is in. To cook like the pros, there’s no better option. “2023 was almost like the peak of millennial-coded aesthetic cookware,” says Hayden, referencing the Instagram-advertising brands peddling pots and pans that prioritized design over function. “I feel like [nonstick] is a crutch, and it’s preventing people from learning how to cook.”
Though solid evidence has yet to confirm concerns that the coatings on these products—which use substances like Teflon and silica to remain slick—could cause health issues as they chip or secrete PFAS into food, there are other reasons to ditch them for stainless. One is versatility. With the right heat control, stainless steel can slide and sauté like the best of them, or sear and fry with a crispness that rivals the work of an established cast iron. “There’s a fear of heat in the kitchen,” Baz says. “I notice a lot of times that cooks are afraid to turn their burners up.” While nonstick pans don’t get quite as hot, you can crank it up for max flavor with stainless steel, and skillets made from it are built to last in a way other cookware just isn’t.
Caviar used to be a luxury experience. Now, it’s a casual snack, at least according to lifestyle creators across Instagram and TikTok. Caviar “has woven its way into more mainstream foods and out of fine dining, I think because people are spending so much more time in their home kitchens as a result of having had to for several years,” Baz says. Now, the trendy way to eat it is as part of a “high-low” pairing: Think caviar with Doritos, potato chips, fried chicken, or scrambled eggs.
On TikTok, this type of caviar consumption is more about the aesthetics than the actual gustatory experience. But since sturgeon are severely overfished and their eggs are often sold on the black market, caviar should remain a rare treat.
The so-called “scooped bagel” went viral this year when a man chronicled his search for a bagel shop willing to hollow out New York’s iconic breakfast food. Scooped bagels may have their origins in anti-carb diets, but if you’re trying to be healthier, disemboweling a food you actually enjoy—or asking a busy worker to do it for you—isn’t the way to start the new year.
The scooped bagel, even more so than other viral bagel “crimes” like 2019’s horizontally sliced “St. Louis bagel,” ignores the fact that an already-pristine baked good with a less doughy center already exists: the bialy, a dense, chewy, and flatter-than-a-bagel roll of similar origins and technique. Like your bagels with less center? In 2024, let the quest for your dream breakfast lead you to a boiled-and-baked good that needs no tweaks.Leave a comment