Good morning, Neverland! (Said in the voice of Smee from Hook)

I’ve been thinking about food trends lately. Why do we eat what we do? The answer: because advertisers are good at their jobs. No matter how savvy you think you are, there are certain buzzwords that I’m pretty sure nobody can escape.

Lets explore.


Low-cholesterol, lite, high-fiber, oat-bran. Oat Bran just about took over in the late 80s. Even Wheat Thins got on the oat bran bandwagon

oat thins 80s ad


Fat-free, diet, reduced-fat. Remember when EVERYTHING was suddenly fat-free?

snackwells 90s ad


Protein, energy, cage-free, all-natural



And every decade we seem to think that “ohhh ok, ok, NOW we have it right.” But if history has anything to say about it, another trend will come after this.

I wonder whats next.

Lets guess!

Possible Trend #1: Spice. I think its about time that a random spice take center stage for its “weight control” abilities. Maybe garlic, maybe cayenne pepper, maybe cinnamon- who knows. Whichever spice has the best PR team. Granted these spices do have health benefits, but suddenly everything from turkey slices to potato chips will be oozing with this one spice. They’ll inject it into produce as it grows to make it extra creepy infused with healthiness. Potential tagline: “Cinnamon french fries: they’re not sinful when they’re cinn-ful”

Possible Trend #2: The new energy drink. Perhaps its time for a “healthy” energy beverage to get in the spotlight. It probably won’t be anything like tea or something that’s actually proven to be healthy but some sort of “fortified” something or other. Oh! Perhaps it’ll be fortified with bio-luminescence so it glows in the dark. Tagline: “Bio-glow: giving you energy you can see throughout the day (and especially at night)”

Possible Trend #3: Wait wait wait… I got it… Moon yogurt. We already have yogurt from just about everywhere on Earth, the next generation has to be from beyond the stratosphere. Granted there’s no life on the Moon to make yogurt, but it’s not like Chobani is made in Greece. Tagline: “Lunar yogurt: one giant leap above the rest”

What do you think about food trends?

Do you buy into them? Do you think most people are aware of how good advertisers are at their jobs?

Do you think we finally have it right this time?

Whats the next trend?


87 Thoughts on “Food Trends & Buzzwords

  1. I couldn’t agree more with your post- marketers have become damn good at their job! They recognise what clients are going “gaga” over and are positioning their products accordingly. Don’t forget about when omega 3s became the rage- I swear the phrase “Omega 3 Fortified” started appearing everywhere I looked!
    Khushboo recently posted…What “Clean Eating” means to me…My Profile

  2. How funny is it to look at past ‘health’ food trends only to look back on it and be like blah blah blah its so bad for us, how could we etc!

    It’ll be interesting to see how long the ‘high protein low carb’ everything bandwagon goes on for- I’m thinking more and more paleo style products hitting our shelves. Oreos made of bark. Faux french fries made of leaves. Im secretly hoping lunar yogurt comes out…
    Arman @ thebigmansworld recently posted…Looking beyond appearanceMy Profile

  3. Food is like fashion… we cycle through trends, and what’s hot this season won’t be hot the next. But me? I like to stick to classic pieces that scream quiet confidence and don’t require flashy lights to sell. Fruits, veggies, bags of whole grains… Just don’t tell the marketing people — I want them to stay away from my stuff!
    Amanda @ .running with spoons. recently posted…. fig and goat cheese honey muffins .My Profile

  4. Hahah yes. Lunar yogurt. I wonder if it will glow in the dark, too. It might deter some healthy living bloggers, but still, genius concept. I think the spices for weight loss have a better chance of taking off though since I somehow can’t see people getting on board with glow-in-the-dark food…
    pickyrunner recently posted…All the RunningMy Profile

  5. Some day we’re going to figure out all of these food trends are just someone trying to make a buck and not always good for us anyway! We need a farm-to-table, eat local, stop putting processed garbage into our bodies trend to take off!! And I don’t mean we should buy everything at Whole Foods either. They’ve got some of the best marketers on the planet working for them. Just because it’s organic, doesn’t make it good for you or for our planet! Ever think of how much fuel is used to ship those organic goodies from California to the East Coast?! Rant complete. Thanks Charlotte!
    Nicole @ Work in Sweats Mama recently posted…Fall Bucket List and Kavu Giveaway WinnerMy Profile

    • yuuup- i love whole foods but its not all healthy. just because something says “organic” or “all natural” doesnt mean its good for you. like, my ice cream says “all natural”…

  6. So true. Nice summary of over 3 decades of food trends. I would assume that since we had a pretty prominent low-carb phase, when everything with a lot of protein and fat was supposed to make you slim and toned, there will be a countermovement claiming that everything high-carb is great in providing the energy you need, as long as those are the right carbs. Probably a term like “plant based energy” could be the 20th century “high in fiber”. I am also pretty sure that the paleo and clean eating movement will make for some popular labels in the close future as we can already observe around the food blogsphere.
    Ksenija @ Health Ninja recently posted…Marvelous Weekend {photography workshop and cupcakes}My Profile

  7. I definitely think food trends exist, but that’s only because marketing people are always trying to get people to buy their stuff. (Nothing new.) I DON’T think that organic/cage-free/grass-fed/etc. is a trend; that’s just the most natural way of producing food and I’d love it if it were to become more mainstream because that’d probably mean the prices would drop a bit and our world would be a tad healthier. I definitely don’t think most people realize how good advertisers are…that’s part of why America has the obesity problem that it does now, isn’t it?
    Beth @ Mangoes and Miles recently posted…PRO Compression Giveaway and ReviewMy Profile

    • great point! part of being a smart consumer is being able to identify trends and also actual healthy food. people should be given a packet with the latest nutrition research before they go to the store, rather than watch commercials.

  8. Great topic!
    I think food trends are like any other, they come and go and some stick around longer than others! I also think it’s nearly impossible not to buy into it when suddenly every company starts making it (take Greek yogurt; I can’t think of any brand in the he grocery store that doesn’t offer a Greek option now)!
    I hope that non-processed food is the next fad!

  9. Marketers… those lil’ buggers. Haha just kidding, I’m one of them. But really though, you’re right. It’s all about buzzwords and package design. I wanna say the next food trend is going to be healthy fats. That’ll start popping up on everything. I know it happened once before, but with coconut oil getting a spotlight I think people are going to go coconut product cray.
    Ang @ Nutty for Life recently posted…Semisweet Chocolate Avocado MousseMy Profile

  10. While I try not to get on trendy food bandwagons…I would probably be all over Moon Yogurt 😉
    It’s hard to say whether or not we have it right right now, because usually as soon as we’re 100% confident that we have it down, there’s another study that shows you how bad the current trend is and what we need to be doing instead…although I’m glad that the fat-free thing died a horrible death. Give it some time, and paleo will be shrugged off as a terrible thing to do to your body.
    I figure that as long as I’m focusing on produce, whole grains, healthy fats and a decent amount of protein, I’m probably not doing terribly.
    Sam @ Better With Sprinkles recently posted…Why I Stopped Hormonal Birth Control.My Profile

    • thats just is- as soon as we think we’re right about something, another study comes around and proves that we had it all backwards. i think you’re on the right track with those eating habits too. everything in moderation seems to hold pretty well through the years.

  11. Oh food trends get us. I think the whole juice fad is such a trend! I do love my veggie juices though. I recently saw veggie Greek yogurt. Now that’s a trend I’m not sure I want to buy into! I love your taglines. So funny!
    FitBritt@MyOwnBalance recently posted…Eats Lately + A New Zumba Video!My Profile

  12. It is sad how easy it is to market things as ‘healthy’ to people. Realizing that ‘healthy’ does not come in a box or bag is essential.
    On another note…lunar yogurt! What a concept (see I’m sold already..such a sucker).
    Tom T. recently posted…Oh Captain, My CaptainMy Profile

  13. Love your summary of Marketings role in almost 3 decades of food trends!
    I am not into food trends that much cos most of the stuff that is pushed is highly processed. About 90% of the time, I try to stay away from food that contains ingredients I cannot pronounce – the other 10% is reserved for my peanut butter chocolate addiction :)
    Now if they were to come up with an oatey-fatfree-chocolate-peanutbuttery-extraproteiny-makeyouglowinthedark bar or drink or smoothie – I might have to jump on the food trend bandwagon 😉
    Shashi @ recently posted…Quinoa & Chocolate Chunk Pancakes!My Profile

  14. i love this. i am a marketers’ dream [maybe whyi work in marketing ha] because i fall for all the buzzwords: whole grain! fat free! free shipping! reduced sodium! i know i do it too but i’m just dumb about nutrition and food so i’m like …ohhh okay!..sounds good/healthy.. thankfully my fooducate app is helping me out but still. haha. I think we’ll see a lot more of paleo and then it’ll vanish.
    Caitlyn @ City and the Cubicle recently posted…And I’m Here….Again.My Profile

  15. Cinn-ful fries…love it. It is funny to look back and see how the trends have changed. All natural and packed with protein seems to be big now, which is great. We’ll just have to let the scientists do their work and discover something that’s BETTER than gluten-free, cage-free, all natural, organic….etc. …..what that may be, I have no idea!
    Erin @ The Almond Eater recently posted…How to: Turn That Frown Upside DownMy Profile

  16. I pretty much missed the trendy gene in everything – food, fashion, fads!!!
    I do however, love your moon yogurt idea!!!
    Kim recently posted…Things you Have to See to BelieveMy Profile

  17. I couldn’t agree more! Food trends are so overrated and the thing of it is, I don’t think that some of these trends are all that healthy. Fat free is sometimes worse than full fat foods because they’re adding all these ingredients to make them fat free and you can’t even pronounce the words. I definitely try not to buy into that kind of stuff.
    Holly @ EatGreatBEGreat recently posted…Treat Yourself Tuesday #1My Profile

    • exactly i totally agree!! plus i think the problem with fat free is that people eat way more than a normal serving size, and that is another huge problem. portion size in this country is out of control. too much of anything isnt healthy.

  18. Ha, you’re so right. Food trends are absolutely ridiculous and I love watching them happen! What’s even funnier is that after these trends, research is done to prove that they are really not good for you at all for reasons A, B and C. Oats are bad – they have gluten. Fat free is bad – it means it’s not all natural and has lots of chemicals and poisons in it! I have no clue what could be wrong with Greek yogurt but I’m sure at some point we’ll hear it all (I know Paleo folks already have beef with Greek yogurt). I too, wonder what’s next! :) I like your glow in the dark energy drink – no matter what chemicals were in it, I’d likely buy it for the fun I could have with it!! MAKE IT CHARLOTTE!
    Meghan @ fitnesscrEATures recently posted…S’ghetti So Good!My Profile

  19. Moon yogurt LOL you kill me. Maybe it won’t taste like cement???

    Maybe I’m just a negative nancy but I don’t think we’ll ever get it right. My faith in humanity is pretty depressing eh?
    Davida @The Healthy Maven recently posted…Baked Cinnamon Apple ChipsMy Profile

    • lol, i share your negative nancy outlook on that :) i think that people who ignore the flashy trends though tend to have it right. and omg hopefully it wouldnt taste like cement thats the last thing i want to see staring at me on the shelves, next to all the other cement-tasting yogurts :)

  20. Yay I love this post! This is what I study for a living!! Food marketing is so pervasive, it’s ridiculous, and most of the time it tricks people into thinking that things are way healthier than they are. Sure, something may be “low fat” but then you find out it has twenty other ingredients that you can pronounce or never heard of. Don’t even get me started on what no calorie (aka artificial and many times non-nutritive sweetners) means and what that craze has done.

    I like the idea of cinnamon french fries, though. Not gonna lie – I’d try them…
    Amy @ Long Drive Journey recently posted…Girl Gets Real: I Don’t Want to RunMy Profile

  21. I have a theory…Today’s super foods is tomorrow’s killers! e.g., Calcium and heart disease! I’m sticking with chocolate!
    carlotta recently posted…The Good Old Days!My Profile

  22. I pick garlic for the next health spice. Garlic fries sound much more appetizing then cinn-full fries. Also, you’re hilarious and I love you in a totally non-creepy way.
    Carly @ Snack Therapy recently posted…Rome: What We DidMy Profile

    • lol, come to think of it, yes, garlic fries would have made a lot more sense there… garlic fries sound delicious! why isnt that more of a thing?? and i love you too in a non- creepy way. anybody who puts garlic and fries together like that is my kind of people.

  23. Ha! I definitely agree…. although moon yogurt does sound pretty tasty 😉
    olivetorun recently posted…The Ew in Running: Running is Gross!My Profile

  24. I love the taglines especially cinn-ful. I could totally see this happening sometime soon, too. I always wonder what the next trend will be from fashion to food. Everything is always evolving so you never know what will be invented within the next month!

  25. Love all of this. Food trends are one thing that are so weird to me. How can a company totally convince people to fear a food group. Seriously, though. We see it happen like every decade….first fear fat…then carbs, then sugar…I’m sure protein will be the next one 😉
    Haha I totally see spice being a new trend…especially since I hear people say all the time…sprinkle cinnamon or cayenne on food because it speeds up your metabolism. Oh man.
    Lisa recently posted…Beauty Products I’m Loving Right NowMy Profile

  26. I think you have a definite future on the cinnamon PR team. Can we seriously just make all these things happen? Imagine how much money we’d make!
    Julie @ Health Nut Julie recently posted…Am I Addicted to Exercise?My Profile

  27. I can’t agree with you more on these trends.
    Ofcourse, the advertisers are some smarty pants, how else could a CRONUT get this famous…No, never have I fallen for the crazy trends but they can get very pushy right?
    If spices get into the trend wagon, I am good and happy, we are already there..
    Ash-foodfashionparty recently posted…PANEER TIKKA with YOGURT MINT SAUCEMy Profile

  28. My favorite trend is chocolate :-) I am really into these juice cleanses too for some reason! I’m a marketing person’s dream!
    natalie@fitfunfemme recently posted…Target Practice + Taper Time!My Profile

  29. Sometimes I am disgusted by advertisements in the food industry. It sucks that we, as consumers, are so gullible. I don’t usually buy into food trends as I try to make most of my food rather than buy packaged and processed items.

    I do love your tagline for the cinnamon French fries though. I would totally buy them! 😉
    Sarah @ making thyme for health recently posted…Black Eyed Pea DipMy Profile

  30. Haha – this is such a blast from the past! My mom totally thought Snackwell cookies were ‘healthy’! And therefore so did us kids! Oh lordy! And you should def be in PR…you’ve come up with some great taglines! :)
    -Sammy @
    Sammy @ Peace Love and Ice Cream recently posted…WOD – September 23, 2013My Profile

  31. I had never really thought about these marketing trends before, but you are SO RIGHT! :) I can’t wait to see what the next big thing is going to be!-Ashley

  32. This is awesome because you are so right on!!! I love the idea of having food from the moon. People would TOTALLY buy it too. I’m reading a very interesting book right now called Salt, Sugar, Fat and it’s all about the 5 largest food companies (think Nabisco, General Mills, Toll House) and how they manipulate and addict with food. It’s pretty insane.
    Allie recently posted…Running with GazellesMy Profile

  33. Haha, I was thinking about this the other day when I was at the grocery store and skipped right past the regular yogurt for the greek yogurt because why would I ever want something without high protein content?! (Gasp!) 😉 But back in the day, fat free Yoplait was all the rage. Who knows what’s next but I do know one thing, good ol’ lean meats, fruits and veggies will never go out of style!
    Christa @ Situps & Sequins recently posted…Weekend Recap: Sweet Potato Hash & Buffalo Chicken Salad + WorkoutMy Profile

  34. Haha, so true! I still love oat bran, but I have to admit that it isn’t really in style anymore. I remember my chronic dieter mom who pretty much turned our kitchen green with low-fat Snackwells and Healthy Choice from the 90s.
    Tiff @ Love, Sweat, & Beers recently posted…34-Week Growing PainsMy Profile

  35. I remember when the Atkins diet was HUGE! Now, I know a ton of people on the Paleo diet and the craze surrounding it seems to be getting bigger. I think we’ll be hearing about Paleo everything soon. I just took a Human Nutrition class and everything I learned pretty much goes against both Atkins and Paleo. I’m still waiting for the balanced diet with whole foods craze to come along. :)

  36. marketing companies are evil. i don’t buy into any of that because it’s all bullshit.

    remember when it was all about atkins or south beach diet? now it’s paleo this, gluten free that etc… open your eyes, people: eat fresh foods that you cook; avoid things that come out of a box, bag or can and eat everything in moderation and you’ll be fine.
    kathy @ vodka and soda recently posted…pressureMy Profile

  37. We’ve really progressed SO much. I have no idea what’s next. The only bad thing is that we’ve also invented some crazy bad food like pink slime and really unhealthy candies, etc. So, even though we seem to be getting really healthy maybe we’re not? (Not in our little blog world though! It’s all fitness here lol!) Just a thought. I think sticking with unprocessed food despite trends is probably the best bet! Love this post!
    Katherine recently posted…Together Tuesdays: Pumpkin, Pumpkin, Pumpkin!My Profile

  38. I think another tagline for a little while was “trans-fat free” or contains no trans fat. I definitely remember during the 90s one potato chip company tried to make their chips free of some sort of fat, and they did, but when they put it on the market it gave most people diarrhea. So, there’s that. I’d be down for some “cinn-ful” fries as they actually sound kind of great haha
    Her Happy Balance recently posted…Five Natural Headache SolutionsMy Profile

  39. You are SO right! And things like Paleo, gluten free (for weight loss, not allergies) are such big trends right now!

    I laughed out loud at my desk about the moon yogurt. 😉

  40. Thinking about marketing (and the gazillions of dollars supporting it) makes me so, so uneasy. The more I learn about it, the more I question every opinion I have and every decision that I make.

    “Why am I buying this yogurt? Is it because it’s delicious? Why do I think it’s delicious? Is it because it’s healthy? Who said it’s healthy? Who am I? How did I get here?”

    It’s exhausting sometimes 😛

    If you haven’t read it yet, I would definitely recommend “Mindless Eating” by Brian Wasink (or something) because he goes over some really interesting points about why we choose certain foods.
    Alex @ Brain, Body, Because recently posted…Juxtapositions and ValidationMy Profile

  41. “Cinnamon french fries: they’re not sinful when they’re cinn-ful.” This is my favorite line ever. Maybe you should become a food marketer. :)
    Cassie @ Rural Running Redhead recently posted…A Few of My Favorite Things: Gear EditionMy Profile

  42. “Cinn-ful” sounds like the next best thing! haha, I loved that! I sure hope we finally have it right. Seems like cutting out processed foods should be the healthiest decision available. Oh how I wish the “fat-free” and “zero calorie” trends from the 90’s would have been as good as they sounded! Marketers are scary good at convincing me! :/
    Lauren @ Rustic Honey recently posted…Space Saver: DIY Dryer Top Ironing PadMy Profile

  43. I think food trends are far too exhausting to keep up with. give me a bown of pasta and let’s call it a day 😉
    Michelle @ 3cheaprunners recently posted…When in Doubt – Take it OutMy Profile

  44. Omg girl, you’re killing me with the tag lines…cinn-ful! Bahaha! I agree with you 100% on this! I used to work at GNC when I was in college, so I’ve seen my FAIR SHARE of the crazed diet trends and the massive amount of people who believe taking a pill with a microscopic amount of some exotic cactus plant is going to turn them into a Victory Secret model in less than a month! Let me just say, for that reason alone, I HATE Dr. Oz!

    Sadly, I must confess to succumbing to the lies of the diet foods back in the day, but I think we’ve finally got it right now with more attention going toward protein…now if we could just finally convince everyone that fat is GOOD for you we’d be good!
    Heather @ Kiss My Broccoli recently posted…Summertime BluesMy Profile

  45. so true Charlotte! Food is very similar to clothing, there is always a new trend. Next year at this time, I’m sure greek yogurt will be pushed to the back-burner for something else…just maybe it’ll be that moon yogurt heheh :)
    Meredith recently posted…When the little things become the big thingsMy Profile

  46. Ha! I like this post. I was just talking about this with my husband this morning. About the gluten-free stuff. Those foods are getting popular these days. We survived without it before. I think they’re all for the sake of advertisement.
    Ja @ Ja on the RUN recently posted…Coast-to-Coast Trip Part 4: Jackson Hole, WYMy Profile

  47. Everything is also ‘carbs is bad!’, when in reality, carbs is good for you metabolically! I can’t wait for that trend to go out of style like it’s 1999.

    PS: I love how old looking the 1990s advertising is. Same when I watch old movies, it always surprises me how fast technology moves.
    Tara recently posted…FelinaMy Profile

  48. I want some moon yogurt – perhaps it’ll come with little crater balls to put on top instead of granola? :)

  49. i love this post! it’s funny that sugar free used to be the trend and now it’s “sweetened with truvia” or even “made with real sugar”. i love watching how it all has evolved and it makes me wonder if the future america will be laughing at us now for being all about organics or all natural.
    Caitlin recently posted…WIAW Goes to CollegeMy Profile

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