Kale. Cronuts. Sriracha. Coconut water. Ramen burgers. These foods and drinks have flown off shelves and inspired plenty of copycats and knockoffs. But are they technically food trends? Fads? Perhaps both? Forbes recently tackled the issue, clearly differentiating between the two.
According to the biweekly business magazine, trends are identifiable and explainable. For example, it’s no secret that soda sales have declined over the past few years in the U.S., due in part to an increase in warnings regarding sugar and artificial sweetener consumption. As a result of these numbers, multiple brands have entered the category, offering more-nutritious alternatives (think: different types of flavored waters, such as coconut, maple and watermelon). These products pick up steam slowly and are consistent with lifestyle trends, such as pledges to consume healthier foods and beverages. Yes, that officially makes kale a “food trend” as well.
On the other hand, food fads are unpredictable and often take the market abruptly and by storm. These typically one-off items gather hype in a matter of weeks or days — sometimes even hours — through word of mouth, the internet and/or various social-media channels. These items may attract viral attention and long lines but are characterized by a brief shelf life that may see them linger around for a little while before fading into obscurity. You won’t find anyone waiting patiently at the crack of dawn for a Cronut anymore (though, in all fairness, that particular fad has somewhat transcended time).
So there you have it. Now you know your fads from your trends. As for what’s next in either category? That’s still anyone’s guess.