The 14 Worst Foods Trends Of 2022

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Another year is almost over, and you know what that means? In between bouts of panic shopping and manic holiday baking, it's time for us to start speculating about all of the food fads that we have seen this year. However, before we get to that point, let us take a look back at all the food trends and movements that took over bars, restaurants, and food Instagram feeds in 2022.

We heartily endorse some of the trends from the past year: The zero food waste movement is pretty great, as is head-to-tail eating, even if it does mean we need to deal with those googly fish eyes staring up from our plates. 

We're also all-in on having low-ABV drink options for holiday parties, as well as alcohol alternatives and sober bars. As for edible flowers, we absolutely love them. (Butterfly pea makes everything so beautiful!) There are other food trends, however, that we can't wait to leave behind us in 2023. Some of them are just silly, others are well and truly annoying, and all of them need to be over already.

1. Butter doesn't belong on a board

Although it's still early in the decade, we've already got a strong contender for the top food trend of the 2020s: Anything and everything on a board. It kicked off with those uber-popular, always-photogenic assemblages of cheese and charcuterie, but soon people started riffing on the whole board thing by replacing the cheese and cold cuts with all manner of other foods. (Probably a good thing since charcuterie itself seems to be linked to an increased risk of cancer.) 

Breakfast boards may be a bit silly (except for this Burger King one, which is hilariously awesome), while salad boards are just crudites and dip on a board. Hot cocoa charcuterie boards, however, are one way of settling the great marshmallows vs. whipped cream debate. Butter boards, though, are a TikTok trend that seems both pointless and gross.

The basic concept of a butter board is simply this: Soften some butter, smear it on a wooden board, and sprinkle it with flavoring and/or decorative elements such as lemon zest and chopped chives. Serve it with fancy sliced bread, and your guests will supposedly go ga-ga for the opportunity to dive into this mess.

 Ick, really? Did a worldwide pandemic teach us nothing about germ-sharing? Flavored butter is all well and good, but individual pats or tiny cups of the stuff would be far more appetizing, not nearly as messy, and less likely to leave a greasy stain on your wooden board.

2. Caviar bumps are more nasty than naughty

How do you typically eat caviar? If you're like many of us, you may not eat the stuff at all. Not only are fish eggs pricey, but they're also an acquired taste, one whose acquisition may not be worth the investment. Imperia Caviar suggests that if you do wish to enjoy its fine product (or that of its competitors), you can eat it on a plain cracker or a piece of toast, or you can simply savor a small bite eaten from a non-metallic spoon. Apparently, that's not what the cool kids are doing these days, though. Instead, they're slurping up caviar like they're doing shots of cheap mezcal (minus the worm).

According to The New York Times, certain bars and restaurants are now featuring caviar bumps on the menu. What this is, is plain caviar that's spooned onto the back of your hand and then snarfled directly off your skin. Okay, let's get this straight: Eating with your fingers is seen as inelegant, and yet somehow licking your own hand is now an experience for which the trendiest of eateries are now charging $20 a pop? 

Sam Ross, who is one of the owners of New York's Temple Bar, explains caviar bumps as a "high-low thing," one that some seem to find "naughty" and "decadent"; however, to us, it just seems like one more example of over-the-top ostentation and a rather disgusting one, at that.

3. Drinking vinegar tastes terrible

Apple cider vinegar is a trendy ingredient that is often credited with a bunch of miraculous healing properties despite the fact that there's not a whole lot of evidence proving that it really can cure all (or any) ills. No matter how many times cider vinegar myths are debunked, though, there are still numerous people who are willing to down shots of the stuff for the sake of their health, but we doubt anyone's doing it because they enjoy the flavor.

The fact is, vinegar does not taste good in beverage form, no matter how you dress it up. In recent years, drinking shrubs, switchels, and different types of vinegar has been on the rise. While these are similar to the old-timey drinks people enjoyed, or rather, endured, in our great-great-great (etc.) grandparents' day, the thing is, people drank such things back then because they had few options and didn't want to let scarce resources go to waste. 

These days, we're paying big bucks for vinegar-spiked craft cocktails and wincing as we down them. These drinks are probably not benefiting our health all that much, they're certainly doing some damage to our wallets, and they Do. Not. Taste. Good. Can we please just let vinegar go back to being a salad dressing? That's the one thing that vinegar does very well.

4. Enough with the secret menus, already

Secret menus, shmecret menus, these do not (or should not) exist! Seriously, do you really think restaurants are deliberately playing cute little games with us where only those with insider knowledge get to order the good stuff? This may be true if a) you are eating in a very authentic Chinese restaurant and b) you can read Mandarin and decipher the untranslated entrees that are not typically marketed to non-Chinese patrons. 

If, however, you are eating at a fast food restaurant, the whole point of such an establishment is to offer a limited menu of easy-to-prepare dishes that can be dished up quickly and easily. Ordering from a so-called secret menu makes things difficult for the underpaid, overworked restaurant employees and also forces the other customers to wait on one person's whim.

All those years ago, when Burger King promised you could "have it your way," did it realize what a monster it was creating? Asking someone to hold the pickles and the lettuce is not too much of a hassle, but asking for a monster of a Starbucks secret menu order that calls for 28 different ingredients and requires 20 minutes of the barista's time to prepare is a real jerk move. Don't be a coffeehouse (or burger chain, sandwich shop, or ice cream parlor) Karen; stick to the regular menu.

5. Fruity Pebble-flavored everything is so over (we wish)

Okay, we get it, life is stressful these days, and one way we all cope is by indulging in our favorite comfort foods. While the definition of such a food may vary from person to person, very often, nostalgia is a driving factor, which may well result in why sugar-loaded kids' cereals are seemingly ubiquitous these days. As Post Consumer Brands chief marketing officer Claudine Patel explained to Smithsonian Magazine, people often seek familiar products that can transport them to easier times. 

Well, cereal nostalgia may be happier and simpler for the consumers, but it's cha-ching time for Post as it's making big bucks off increased sales of the dreaded Fruity Pebbles. While we're okay with the stuff in a cereal bowl, we're tired of seeing it in pancakes, on donuts, in milkshakes (boozy and otherwise), and even in cocktails. 

It was bad enough when Fruity Pebbles-flavored coffee creamer came out (cereal milk-flavored coffee, the breakfast beverage nobody asked for), but Fruity Pebbles pancake syrup is some next-level shark jumping. Why would you want to take a first-rate breakfast food (pancakes) and transform it into something that tastes like a third-rate cereal? Please, somebody, stop this sugar-coated juggernaut before we wind up with cereal pizza! Oh wait ... with the invention of Froot Loops pizza, it looks like we may already be too late.

6. Impossible restaurant reservations aren't doing us any favors

If you live in a small town where Applebee's really is your fanciest date-night option, then restaurant reservations may not be a major concern. If, on the other hand, you're in New York or Los Angeles and would like to check out the buzziest new hotspots, you're going to have to hunt down those reservations like they're the latest Xbox console or tickets to a Taylor Swift concert. 

Jump on Open Table at the stroke of midnight, fingers flexed to click and grab the only reservation available ... congrats, you're booked for the second Tuesday of March next year, and you'll be dining at the fashionable hour of 5:15 p.m.

Seriously, do any of us really want to live this way? Sure, OpenTable allows you to set an alert, but you could be waiting a long, long time to hear that ping. You want to know why that is? The New York Times spills the beans: It seems that some restaurants may be going the Ticketmaster route by cutting deals with credit card companies and other third-party brokers to allow priority reservation access for a small (or not so small) fee. 

Other restaurants are cutting out the middle person altogether by establishing private dining clubs. If the price of fine dining now means we have to pony up bug bucks before we can sit at the table, maybe we'll just stick with that Bourbon Street steak and $1 margaritas, after all.

7. Kitchen appliances should stay in their lanes

It seems as if there's a kitchen appliance for every purpose under the sun, but while we may fantasize about owning the perfect tool for every kitchen task, those of us with smaller living spaces may not have the room to house a tabletop grill, soda machine, egg poacher, etc. 

This is why we love multi-purpose appliances such as a rice cooker/crockpot combo. While we also enjoy a good kitchen appliance hack, such as using a thermos in place of a cocktail shaker; however, we're not so enthused about all of those TikTok videos urging us to use our appliances for unintended purposes when there's no good reason to do so.

Who on earth needs to make their margarita in a coffee machine? Isn't that what blenders are for? And why would you ever use an iron for cooking purposes unless you're stuck in a hotel room and are desperate for grilled cheese (and just happen to have the necessary ingredients on hand)? 

Using your toaster to heat up anything other than bread or Pop Tarts can be risky business, too: Just ask the man who burned his house down when he tried making that viral TikTok toaster steak. Many of these appliance hacks just serve a single purpose, and it's one they accomplish very well: They draw eyeballs to TikTok videos. Still, if you're not the original content creator, there's no need to try such kitchen stunts at home.

8. Salted caramel needs to slow its roll

Make no mistake: We're not saying that we hate salted caramel here since we most assuredly do not. It's a rather tasty flavor combination, and really, we're okay with a little salt being sprinkled on our caramel from time to time. Salted caramel sauce on ice cream is quite nice, and salted caramel Rice Krispie treats are just fine. As for Starbucks' salted caramel offerings, though, we're not big fans of the coffee + salt flavor combo, so are a bit on the fence about some of that stuff.

Still, there's one thing it seems that everyone's forgetting now that salted caramel seems poised to take over pumpkin spice as fall's most ubiquitous flavor: Caramel is perfectly delicious without salt, too! Seriously, it's getting to the point where we're afraid to pop a Werther's candy into our mouths in fear that someone is going to show up with a comically large salt shaker and insist that we take our candy with a spoonful of flaky sea salt. Umm, no thanks, we're trying to watch our sodium intake. Why can't we just enjoy a little sugar flavor now and then without trying to turn it into a sweet and salty thing?

9. Some sweet and savory combos are just ridiculous

Speaking of mixing sweet and salty tastes or just sweet and savory flavors in general, this, too, is a trend that seems to have gotten out of hand over the past year. Yes, it can be good in limited doses, as apparent in those popcorn tins where the cheese and caramel kind get all mixed up in a good way. 

There's also the Monte Cristo sandwich, which is our favorite way to pair ham and cheese with raspberry jam. Do you know what we're not really down with, though? Really oddball combos that seem like they were dreamed up just so someone could double-dog dare us to take a bite.

Pickle soft-serve? We'll pass. Figgy pudding-flavored Spam? Please say it's a joke. By far the worst offenders when it came to truly over-the-top 2022 flavor combos were several MLB Stadium Offerings that tried to woo strike-weary fans back to the stadiums with delightful fare such as marshmallow fluff-topped fries and a barbecue sandwich embellished with Reese's peanut butter cups. 

Swings and misses, both of them. One more strike like that, and it's the fans who'll be out (or at least sticking with plain old hot dogs and popcorn as a safer bet).

10. Terrible vegan ice cream is terrible

We have no problem with the concept of vegan ice cream, nor with non-dairy products in general. It's great that the lactose-intolerant, as well as those following a plant-based diet, can enjoy a scoop of sweet deliciousness. There's no reason why ice cream made from coconut, cashew, almond, or oat milk shouldn't taste just as good as one made from moo juice, either. It's just that, in some cases, vegan ice cream is a work still in progress.

While a recent Reddit thread notes that there are some good plant-based ice creams out there, other frozen desserts are not worthy of the name. One person has harsh words for Halo Top's vegan version, saying that the sweetener in the ice cream tends to make them sick, while another thinks that Oatly is below average, noting that the brand's coffee flavor tastes of cardboard and makes their mouth feel dry. 

Another person seems to feel that So Delicious ice cream is horrible. Our feeling on the matter is, if you're a mainstream ice cream maker and vegan products aren't in your wheelhouse, maybe don't jump on the bandwagon and leave it to those who specialize in non-dairy. If you fall into the latter category, though, there's no excuse for putting out a terrible product now that plant-based diets have gone mainstream. Either do it right or don't do it at all.

11. The '90s called, they want their appletinis back

True confession: We secretly adore appletinis. Sure, they're a bit too embarrassing to order in any bar not connected to a chain restaurant, but as long as DeKuyper's sour apple schnapps are still being made, this cocktail is easy enough to whip up at home. That way, we can drink our appletinis with the curtains closed so no one can sneer at our tacky little trip back to the days of the dot-com bubble.

What we are not on board with is the much-heralded return of the appletini to the trendier type of bar. For one thing, you can always tell when judgmental mixologists are trolling you with ironic intent. For another, a craft appletini with heirloom apple-infused vodka just isn't going to have that same cheery alien-green color and will probably taste more like real apples and less like Jolly Rancher candy. 

Well, we happen to love Jolly Ranchers, and if we wanted something apple-flavored, we'd just drink apple juice instead. The biggest issue we have with the appletini revival, however, is that it opens the door for all those other '90s cocktail drinks to come back, and frankly, we never much cared for the Cosmopolitan.

12. Turmeric does not belong in hot chocolate

Turmeric is one of those foods that's on the verge of ruin due to overexposure after being elevated to the status of a superfood. Okay, so apparently, it's good for your brain and body, although many of these claims are still under investigation and may or may not prove to be true (same as apple cider vinegar). Once word got out about turmeric's health benefits, however, it instantly became trendy, and people started adding it to anything and everything. As a result, it's now popping up in places where it has no business being, with hot chocolate being a particularly egregious example.

Turmeric is great in Indian recipes, where it blends nicely with other seasonings such as coriander and cumin; plus, we love the fact that it makes a great saffron substitute at a fraction of the cost of that pricey spice. As a standalone flavoring agent, however, turmeric isn't exactly one size fits all, and it definitely doesn't pair well with chocolate. 

While a recent YouTube video describes the drink as "bold in flavor," chocolatier Nunu Chocolates explains that "bold," in this case, means very earthy (i.e., dirt-like) with a lingering bitterness. Even though chocolate is the company's primary product, it suggests that turmeric tastes better when mixed with lemon or lime juice. If you do love the taste of turmeric on its own, though, you'd do well to skip the cocoa powder and make a hot drink called golden milk instead.

13. We're tired of former dine-in restaurants ghost(kitchen)ing us

Back in the dark days of the pre-vaccine pandemic, we rallied behind our favorite restaurants by ordering delivery. Once the mask mandates were lifted, and restaurants started re-opening, though, we were eager to get back to in-person dining, but this wasn't always possible. Whether it's due to staffing shortages, higher profits, or the perception that customer preferences have shifted to dine-out rather than dine-in, some restaurants have chosen to convert to a different model. 

CNN reports that many fast food chains are retooling to focus on drive-through and/or delivery, shrinking or even eliminating the dining areas. Fair enough, since these places were never about the ambiance (although it does pose a problem for those of us with drive-thru anxiety). What really hurts, however, is when standalone restaurants that once offered dine-in are converted to a ghost kitchen model, something that Forbes notes is fairly simple to set up.

The New Yorker points out that restaurants going ghost predates the pandemic to some extent. It names San Francisco's Frjtz as a restaurant that once had a brick-and-mortar storefront but switched over to delivery-only in 2019. (Successfully, it seems, as it's added ghost locations in Oakland and San Mateo since that time.) Okay, we get it, the restaurant business is tough, and owners need to maximize profits however they can. If the industry's future is destined to turn into a ghost story, however, that's scary stuff ... consider us spooked.

14. What's with all the sneaky fake sweeteners in drinks?

Many mainstream beverages on the market are way too high in sugar. Who needs all the carbs and calories on top of that gross, sticky feeling in your mouth? Artificial sweeteners, however, are bad news. Not only are they terrible for your health, but they tend to taste like the chemicals from which they're made. This is why we get excited whenever we see sodas, juices, seltzers, and other canned and bottled drinks touting the fact that they're low in sugar and contain no artificial sweeteners. 

Great, just take out half the sugar, and we'll be happy campers! Sadly, whenever we forget to read the fine print, the first sip often reveals that the promise of "no artificial sweeteners" is more technicality than truth and that just-purchased drink goes right down the sink.

As per Food Politics, manufacturers have long been claiming that stevia, a plant-derived sugar substitute, is natural and therefore falls under the "no artificial sweeteners" umbrella. In recent years, we've seen this applied to monk fruit and erythritol, as well. 

While these sweeteners have yet to be linked to all of the problems associated with lab-created, Today points out that there hasn't yet been sufficient research to declare them 100% safe. Even if these "natural" sweeteners prove to be the healthiest thing since, well, turmeric and cider vinegar, though, the fact is, they just taste nasty and have no business sneaking in where they're not wanted.