It’s important to remember that in Greta Gerwig’s Barbie, Barbie doesn’t eat. When in Barbieland, she holds cups of milk and pieces of toast up to her mouth but, being plastic, she cannot actually ingest anything. This changes when she gets to the real world and at one point has to figure out how to sip a cup of tea. But otherwise, food is not important to her life.
Despite that, the internet is exploding with Barbie-themed recipes. Across TikTok and Instagram there are meals meant to evoke the Barbie lifestyle, which just means food that is not normally pink has been made so. And many of them rely on one ingredient to get their signature color. If you want to start eating like Barbie, it’s time to embrace beets.
Multiple viral recipes for Barbie pasta employ beets, blended into a sauce with ingredients like sour cream, cheese, or greek yogurt. The pasta recipes are all similar to a beet pasta posted by Nasim Lahbichi in February 2021, long before the Barbie marketing train started rolling. One year later, chef and author Meredith Hayden’s Wishbone Kitchen posted a recipe for “the viral tiktok pink pasta,” suggesting the Barbie pasta is just a rebranded version of something that’s been around for a while. But it hasn’t stopped creators from embracing beets to jump on the Barbie bandwagon.
There’s also Barbie hummus made of beets, Barbie tzatziki, Barbie whipped ricotta toast, Barbie dosas, Barbie dumplings, Barbie juice, and an extremely questionable Barbie mustard and cottage cheese. Recently, Lahbichi also published a recipe for cold beet soup and soba noodles with Barbie vibes, and other TikTok creators and chefs are pointing out that traditional beet soups like borscht and aukstá zupa are naturally Barbie-esque. The restaurant Atticus in New Delhi has an entire Barbie-themed tasting menu, with a beetroot risotto as the main course.
Love Beets, purveyors of packaged cooked beets, has also been embracing the beet moment — it posted its own Barbie pasta recipe on Instagram, as well as a Barbie beet smoothie, and beet popsicles. In a statement to Eater the company’s brand manager said, “We’ve seen a lot of engagement and [user-generated content] on social regarding our beets being used in pink Barbie-themed recipes and we’re expecting to see sales results in return as well.”
It is perhaps surprising that so many of these recipes rely on beets, rather than raspberries or dragonfruit or Barbie-artificial pink food coloring. It’s not a guarantee that a recipe based on beets, which are earthy and sweet but also have plenty of haters, is going to be a hit with everyone; some of these creators have said that beets are not usually part of their diets.
But beets suggest “wellness” in a way even fresh berries don’t, making the viral recipes seem good-for-you with their slight tinge of dirt. And ultimately, beets are more versatile — a raspberry pasta would probably not be as welcomed. Maybe this is the moment more people will be introduced to the complexity and delight of beets. Thanks, Barbie.