This year has been an interesting and generally productive one for food trends, with global tastes well-established, house-made fruit and vegetable pickles all the rage, gourmet burgers and craft brews holding steady, and Peruvian and Thai fusion cuisine everywhere. But with the good comes the bad, and there are definitely a few food trends that have outlived their usefulness, and need to be put out of our misery.
Here are the top five food trends that should end when 2012 does. Cupcake-sized caskets, anyone?
5. Crisis foods need to flatline.
We have had economic crisis-inspired, extreme comfort foods there to cuddle us through the hard times: dishes like fettuccine Alfredo with bacon instead of pasta, mile-high meatloaf stacks with buckets of gravy on the sides, and macaroni and cheese made with seventeen different kinds of cheese -- including Velveeta -- loaded with sauteed onions and green peppers, a fried egg, three apple turnovers and topped with an entire pot roast.
Diners need to get comfortable with the idea that it's okay to say that nostalgia foods have gone too far, and get back to eating regular, high-calorie/fat-loaded/hibernation-fuel macaroni and cheese.
4. Extreme couponing needs to have an extreme demise. Coupons are awesome -- they really are. Saving money on groceries and dining out never goes out of style, but showing up at the checkout line with a wheelbarrow full of coupons for shampoo, granola bars and Virginia Slims, saving $113 and spending $4.15, and then posting the receipt on Facebook and gassing on about how clever, frugal and hip you are...well, it's time to turn those coupon-cutting scissors on yourself. That, or get some other hobbies, or consider using a few of your stray pharmaceutical industry coupons to sample the latest OCD medications.
3. Mini desserts need to be downsized.
Cake pops, micro-brownies, layered pudding things in shot glasses, tartlettes and breath mint-sized cookies all need to be Miracle-Grown back to regular-sized desserts. Because while the portion sizes may have shrunk, in many cases the prices sure as hell haven't. Self-control is a lost art form, to be sure, but mini-sweets have helped to marginalize the old-fashioned, tried-and-true solution to monitoring sugar intake: You take a knife or other suitable cutting device, cut the regular-sized dessert into two or more servings, and don't eat them all at the same time.
2. Cupcakes are terminally ill, but still clinging to life.
Wooden stakes, garlic-laden crosses, silver bullets and John-f*cking-McClane can't seem to kill the cupcake trend, but at least it's on the decline, just waiting for us to yank the plug out of the wall, fake a few tears, and move on. Bigger and better dessert trends are being cake-blocked by this aging trend -- think of the poor macaroons that've been waiting in the lobby of the trend depot for years. And even though we all have collective memories of the good times with cupcakes -- eating them in fields of daisies and that time cupcakes loaned us money for that ski trip -- wouldn't it be best to honor their memories by giving them the option to die with dignity? Pull the plug, already!!!
1. A gluten-free death. There are people who have genuine, legitimate allergies to wheat gluten, and for them, this last year's trend of restaurants and shops offering gluten-free meals and products was not only a good idea from an empathetic standpoint, but quite a marketing coup as well. But this trend is now getting out of hand, and it needs to be stopped before it gets so big that Dr. Yamane, Emiko and Steve Martin have to blast it with an oxygen destroyer to stop it from eradicating Tokyo.
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Gluten-freeZilla is being fed and nurtured by folks who have no allergies to gluten, and are trend-f*cking it the same way people trend-f*cked the Atkins diet into the ground. And just as now nobody orders burgers in lettuce "buns," the gluten-free trend will end up a mostly unfunny joke in a few years, erased from menus and memories alike. So why not have some compassion for the people who actually need gluten-free foods and drinks, and pre-meditatively murder-one this trend and then try to plea it down to accidental death?