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A Look Back at 2017’s Biggest Food Trends

Jamaican food, pot edibles, and soft serve saw big rises in Google searches this year

Jean Schwarzwalder/Eater NY

Some could say 2017 was a year of politics, confusion, shock, and uncertainty. But a poke at Google Trends data shows that in the food world at least, there were many opportunities to escape the commotion that was the rest of living in 2017. That is: If Americans were looking for a release, they found it in food. A look at this year’s top food trends shows the country’s hunger for the diverse, the magical, the nostalgic, and the euphoric. Here are 2017’s top food trends, according to the Internet:


Jamaican cuisine

Jamaican-inspired menus have been growing in popularity over the last few years, but 2017 was the cuisine’s breakout year. As Eater reported, this might be due to the growing number of chefs who, in an effort to make the island’s food more familiar and accessible to Americans, have been fusing Jamaican flavors with other international cuisines like Latin and Korean. Google Trends data shows search interest for “Jamaican food” and “Caribbean food near me” were high in 2016, but even more so throughout 2017.

Soft serve

Earlier in the year, Eater predicted the summer of 2017 would be the summer of edible raw cookie dough, but Google search interest data proved that despite the slew of raw dough parlor openings this year, people were not that interested in searching for it. Instead, soft serve, the cold ice cream-ish dessert, saw a huge boost in search interest. It makes sense: Eater revealed the economical treat has been popping up on restaurant menus all summer, appearing to be the “it” item for dessert counters and tasting menus alike.


Breakfast and brunch

All-day and midday breakfast were all the rage this year, thanks in part to more restaurants serving meals throughout the day (one catalyst for that trend: breakfast food tends to be profitable for restaurants). So it should come as no surprise that Google search interest for “breakfast near me” and “brunch near me” spiked in 2017, peaking in the late spring.

“Brunch near me” was especially popular in Washington, D.C., Maryland, Massachusetts, and Illinois, the data shows. In D.C., brunch culture has grown among young urban professionals there, much to the chagrin of some folks like one D.C.-based writer, whose hot take on brunch caused a stir. But if search data is any indication, interest in brunch and breakfast doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon. The millennials have solidified this one.


Meal delivery

The new(ish) meal kit delivery market has been booming. Services like Plated, HelloFresh, and Blue Apron have been slowly enticing busy professionals into buying pre-prepared cooking kits for the last five years or so. This summer, Blue Apron began trading on the New York Stock Exchange; in the coming weeks, its performance would prove disappointing. HelloFresh, the German-based meal kit service, would go public in November, hoping to overthrow Blue Apron as the leader in meal kit delivery.

Despite concerns over how these companies will sustain profits, Google data shows customers are very, very interested in them. Trends data shows an all-time high in interest in food delivery kits — and/or their zigzagging stock prices — and it seems to be growing.


Edibles

As more states move toward laxer recreational marijuana laws, interest in pot-based edibles has spiked. Voters in four states — California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada — approved the legalization of recreational cannabis on Election Day 2016, with California entrepreneurs set to open legal retail marijuana stores on January 1. Meanwhile, companies and chefs are working to improve the taste and experience of edible marijuana snacks, as more states consider making recreational use legal.

Search interest for easy-to-consume CBD edibles like “cbd gummies” skyrocketed in popularity this summer.


Unicorn Frappuccino

Starbucks’ Unicorn Frappuccino was one of the year’s biggest viral stunt dishes. Capitalizing on other crazy food trends like rainbow food, galaxy desserts, and mermaid drinks, Starbucks debuted the purple and blue glittery Frappuccino in April, and the Internet went mad for it. While it lacked the staying power of other food trends of the year (the Unicon Frapp was designed as a limited-time-only menu item), it may have spawned a wave of unicorn-branded Instagram food.

Location intelligence company Foursquare saw a spike in mentions of the “unicorn” on its Swarm app the week of the Frapp’s debut.

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