Cronuts. Bacon. Sriracha sauce. Cupcakes. Ramen burgers. Food trucks. Atkins diets. Low carb diets are better than low fat diets. Food news and trends come and go, but what's behind it? Why do some foods or diets or trends rise and fall? What drives them to such popularity?
David Sax takes a look at several of these trends and how they came to be as well as their cultural impact. Some of the stories are quite fascinating for their information. Cupcakes apparently got their lift from Sex and the City, which I never really cared to watch. Food trucks can apparently thank a guy in LA for his Korean food in tacos. These trends reverberate not just in the food itself but more. People go out and start their own cupcake shop or food truck. Washington, DC and other metropolitan areas had a showdown over food truck regulations (which also brought in physical restaurants in buildings, who hated having MORE competition). Potential cronut eater gave the middle finger to the bakery that made cronuts...because they were out of them.
The initial cupcake story dragged me in, but overall the book is very uneven. I feel it's strongest when it's talking about the actual trends themselves (cupcakes, food trucks, etc.) It's a lot less compelling when it talks about WHY: some are organic in development or have a grassroots feeling or are "exotic" (Peruvian food) to US audiences. Some are driven by marketing and big data (surprise surprise). Others are due to economics (bacon, after the low fat diets of the 1980s were all the rage).
I felt that the work might have been stronger if he had discussed each particular food item/trend in a chronological fashion rather than dividing it up on the how, why and history in general and dropping the food trends as he went. It would also perhaps to strengthen his point later about the health concerns that come with some of the after affects of the food trends. He also relates an anecdote where he attempted to get a cronut, only to find the store was closed. Upon checking his email at the store, he found it was closed due to food poisoning, sending 200+ to local hospitals. It turned out the cronut was not the culprit, but the author writes how the desire to be on top of the next food trend lends to sloppiness and unfortunate results.
Towards the end though, I became a little disgusted with all of it. People have time to stand in line for hours for cronuts. Or they come to New York City not for the history or sightseeing but...cupcakes. The author does not really discuss the major economic division of the people who can spend hours in line for food from a food truck that has to hustle to survive or that there are people in the world who can barely get enough food to feed themselves.
Overall though, I did enjoy most of it and did find it very informative. But it also tells me there some people with far too much time and far too much money on their hands as well. Foodies or those with an interest in such trends would probably enjoy this. It does not have a huge focus on any single food (despite cupcakes and fondue being mentioned on the cover), so it's not a go-to resource for bacon or Sriracha or ramen burgers. Library is probably your best bet.