The ‘It’ Foods: Bite on the Next Big Food Trend (Get in now or eat it later)

Collard greens

Half of a cherry pie

Marjoram, an herb

Mung beans

Brazil nuts

Chayote gourd

Chia seeds

Canned octopus

Roasted seaweed snacks

Spelt grain

Spelt grain

Turneric root





According to the package, it’s the traditional grain of Germany and has never been hybridized, so we’re talking heritage grain here, folks!

Selling points: Spelting points, more like! Anyway, the package says “Circa 6000 B.C.” and touts it as an ancient relative of wheat, so maybe play into the gluten hysteria? Something along the lines of “Yes, OK, it does contain gluten, but it’s not one of these Frankengrains ConAgra is trying to poison you with. It’s historical!” Plus, 25.35 grams of protein per uncooked cup, according to the USDA.

Marketing: We’re picturing men wearing wolf pelts and carrying spears, Gaul-style. Spelt will help you take on the Romans! Quinoa is for sissies!

Secret magical properties: It has a master’s degree in urban planning and will help you get that proposal for in-fill developing past the city council.


A lot more calorie-conscious than a whole pie, half a pie just screams “the next Cronut.”

Selling points: As mentioned, half the calories of a whole pie! Plus, half a pie offers a tantalizing glimpse into the pie’s interior, allowing creative chefs everywhere to go bonkers on the ingredients. “Wait,” customers who’ve waited in line all day will say. “Is that a tentacle?”

Marketing: Location and scarcity are going to be key. Half a pie will be sold in a single, homey bakery — called “Cutesy Pie,” maybe; we can discuss names later — that’s hard to find and offers a limited amount of half pies daily, made by a chef with a business-world-to-butter-making-locavore back story.

Secret magical properties: Listens for hours without judging or trying to tell you how to solve your problems because you know, duh, you just want to talk it through.


OK, we’ll need a punchier name, obviously, but octopus in a can is 14 grams of protein in a mere four ounces! And how often do you get to eat nature’s own suction cups?

Selling points: There’s the aforementioned protein, of course, and the suction cup bonus. Plus, part of what makes a Big Food Trend big is its perceived originality, which imbues it with coolness and edginess. And what could be more original, when a gagging co-worker shrieks, “For the love of all things holy, what is that stench?” than to casually say, “Octopus in a can, my friend. Pure protein.”

Marketing: Front and center in the weight room, with a motto along the lines of “Hey, Paleo-philes! Get your protein Poseidon style!”

Secret magical properties: Forestalls zombification for three entire days, come the apocalypse.



It’s just their time, is all. They’re so big and dorky and consistent.

Selling points: Oh, only 187 mg of potassium per ounce, baby! And 2.1 grams of fiber! And… and… tasty if you like that sort of thing! OK, fine, but there are many roads to a Big Food Trend. It could be purported health benefits, it could be coolness, it could be scarcity, it could be exoticness or it could be the girl-next-door phenomenon: You’ve been there all along but I just now noticed how beautiful (delicious) you are!

Marketing: At the expense of almonds, unfortunately. Brazil nuts: because drought and colony collapse disorder are going to slap those almonds right from your hands, and Brazil nuts will be here for you.

Secret magical properties: Remembers to DVR “True Detective” every week.



It looks like bugs! Your horrified friends will be amazed and secretly jealous of your exotic, adventurous palate!

Selling points: We’re talking triple threat here — it’s used as a spice, a remedy and a dye. Plus, it’s available locally but still trails delicate tendrils of Ceylon and the Spice Islands, so you’ll seem worldly and well-traveled. And like someone maybe willing to eat bugs.

Marketing: It’ll all depend on stylish dinner parties at which the host can mentioned with studied off-handedness, “Why are the pork chops orange, you ask? Oh, I sprinkled a little grated turmeric root on them. I developed a taste for it when I was kicking around West Bengal.”

Secret magical properties: Never forgets “lefty loosey, righty tighty” when you’re doing plumbing projects together.



If there’s an edible with a name that’s more fun to say than “mung bean,” please step forward. In fact, the name is so tremendous that it immediately lends itself to hipster-friendly T-shirts and knitted items.

Selling points: In bean form, they’re little and green and adorable, so picture a basketful of crocheted mung beans with little faces! Or a mung bean cartoon on a T-shirt, wearing Buddy Holly glasses and saying something like “Munga Bunga” (that needs a little work). Oh, and they’re pretty tasty in stir fry, once sprouted.

Marketing: Pinterest, don’t fail us now! Picture “I dream of mung beans” and “Cutest bean ever!” boards, featuring mung bean crafts, highly-filtered photos and impractical recipes.

Secret magical properties: Dances the “Cha Cha Slide” at weddings and proms with unadulterated joy and not a hint of irony, freeing you to do the same.



Why not? Cumin’s had its day in the sun. Sea salt sits at the head of the cool table. Cinnamon’s enjoying a miracle-spice renaissance. Why not marjoram?

Selling points: It’s tasty in soup. And stew. And on roasted goose. Plus, marjoram just sounds smart, like it has a graduate degree and 15 years of experience.

Marketing: You know those tests they do on “Top Chef,” where contestants have to discern as many of the 37 elements in a broth as they can? Marjoram is for the person who thinks they could do that: “Ah, yes, I’m detecting the most delicate hint of marjoram. Charming!”

Secret magical properties: Knows all the words to all six verses of “Battle Hymn of the Republic” and can harmonize with you on alto.



This unassuming gourd sounds like a hybrid of peyote and coyote, so think of the mystical possibilities!

Selling points: Well, it has 35 mg of calcium per fruit, which is a definite plus. And it’s really cute, visually. And it’s… bland, so it’s good fried and doused with a whole bunch of spices. That’s it! A culinary blank canvas!

Marketing: Take ample advantage of the aforementioned awesome name, which lends itself to all kinds of “Chayote isn’t just out of this world, it’s out of this body! Plus, you know, spirit animals or whatever” taglines. Maybe park the chayote-themed food truck outside Certain Stores in Colorado (Where It’s Legal), if you get the drift.

Secret magical properties: Encourages you to get it together, get a haircut, get a job, save 10 percent.



Nope. Yuck.

Friends, it’s time to make some money.

Somewhere, someone is doing just that, while we sit around eating all the kale.

Which is the point exactly. The kale. Cabbage’s overachieving cousin. Since when the kale?

Since about three years ago, when it started to be that you couldn’t throw a rock without hitting someone who was “juicing” (discussion for a later date: How to make money off the verbization of perfectly good nouns). And kale was a key element of those oh so very green juices.

Now, kale is ubiquitous. Not a day goes by, probably, that someone doesn’t shove some kale chips at you or wax rhapsodic about its health benefits. (Per the USDA Nutrient Database: A cup of raw kale has 33 calories, three grams of protein, six grams of carbs, 100 mg of calcium, 330 mg of potassium, 80 mg of vitamin C, 6,693 IU of vitamin A and 472 ug of vitamin K)(It also can help you land the airplane if one of the engines goes out, because a hallmark of trendy foods is that they have secret magical properties.)

Kale is an easy punchline, but produce industry insiders claim its popularity hasn’t plateaued yet — they’re also claiming 2014 is the year of cauliflower and collard greens, so keep your eyes and ears open for opportunity. Which gives us time! Just as someone is obviously making money off of kale — growers, marketers, whomever — so too can we make money off the Next Big Food Trend. All we have to do is prognosticate what it’s going to be!

Take, for example, pastry chef Dominique Ansel, who conceived the Cronut, a donut made from a croissant for which people in New York City lined up for hours last year. This week at SXSW in Austin, Texas, Ansel is offering milk shots in chocolate chip cookie glasses. Oh, the buzz!

Folks, that needs to be us.

Remember back in the ‘90s when everyone “discovered” pesto? And by extension pine nuts? Remember the quinoa hysteria of the mid-00s? Which, oddly, came up alongside the cupcake tsunami?

Remember Sriracha, wheatgrass, red velvet everything, pumpkin spice, bacon? Remember yesterday, when you considered buying chia seeds at the grocery store, despite not knowing what they even are, let alone whether they should be eaten or used to grow kitschy objects d’art?

Let us put on our thinking caps. What’s going to be the new subject of Pinterest boards and slightly clueless New York Times Style section think pieces? What’s going to be the talk of yoga class? What’s going to make us rich?

We can figure out how to share the wealth later — maybe it’ll be like those people who buy Powerball tickets together? Anyway, see our suggestions for the Next Big Food Trend.


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