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Ahhhh. It’s the end of another long pandemic year. Somehow, we all got through 2021! Let’s take a moment to look back on what filled our kitchens, plates, and bellies during this strange time.
First, we had feta pasta, where a simple block of cheese with tomatoes and pasta made dinner easy, but was so popular that it may have caused feta shortages. Then, there was the nature’s cereal moment, when pop star Lizzo showed us all that an unblended smoothie of fruit, coconut water, and ice cubes is actually amazing. And we can’t forget the tortilla hack which changed the quesadilla game forever. And of course, TikTok’s darling, Emily Mariko, showed us all how leftover salmon, rice, and an ice cube makes a fantastic lunch. It was kind of a big year for ice cubes?!
Outside of social media’s crazes, we saw fast food chains everywhere partnering with celebs to show us their go-to meal. We learned that Saweetie loves the Big Mac and McNuggets from McDonald’s, Megan Thee Stallion has a sweet and spicy sauce at Popeyes, and Nelly adores the BK Whopper. A lot of these chains also brought in plant-based options: Taco Bell returned some well-loved vegan options to their menu, Burger King offered impossible nuggets, and Wendy’s had a black bean burger.
In home kitchens, people continued to decorate focaccia to resemble beautiful landscapes, cooked their eggs in pesto or chili oil, and used the air fryer to its fullest capacity.
Few could have seen those trends coming. But this year, we’ve done the research to see what food items or recipes could gain tons of traction in 2022.
We aren’t just talking about an uninspired mocktail (we are looking at you vodka soda, minus the vodka), but delicious drinks that were fully designed to have no ABV. Loads of people are abstaining from alcohol permanently or just trying it on for weekdays, and 2022 is the year for them. We’ve already seen companies like Betty Buzz market towards this very crowd, and with the pandemic happy hour finding its end, people are spending less time drinking and more time searching for an alternative.
We all know and love the peanut butter alternatives, like cashew butter and almond butter, but one substitute is really staking a claim these days, particularly within the world of ice cream. Ben & Jerry’s released four non-dairy flavors this year made with sunflower seed butter: Creme Brulée Cookie, Change The Whirled, “Milk” & Cookies, and Mint Chocolate Cookie. And we know they have more non-dairy options with the sunflower stuff on the way. Whole Foods is also on the sunflower butter train, with a Fix & Fogg Oaty Nut Butter they think will be all the 2022 rage, according to their 2022 trend reports. We couldn’t agree more. More sunflower butter!
Because of supply chain issues and just general pandemic madness, we’ve seen restaurants really pare down their menus, and we think the trend this is here to stay for a while longer. Honestly, we love when a restaurant’s menu has fewer options that are done really well. Give me less choices, and better food!
We’ve already seen Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat infiltrate the menus of fast food chains, and maybe you’ve even seen them at your fave local burger joint. Recently, some brands have made serious strides in creating seafood made of plants, too. Some developments we’re intrigued by? Zeastar came out with an uncanny “salmon” and “tuna” sashimi, MyEats released a mushroom bacon that looks too real, and Good Foods launched a plant-based buffalo dip. We even saw Gordon Ramsey make vegan bacon on TikTok. 2022 should bring even more plant-based “meat” and “seafood” products to life (so to speak), making a vegetarian diet ever more attainable and exciting.
The first thing that comes to mind when hearing about a milk made from potatoes might be “huh?” But this new nondairy milk, made from boiled potatoes and the water they’re cooked in, has already gained some traction in 2021, and the food company DUG now sells a potato-based milk in some parts of Europe and China. Next year you might see an option state-side!
More robots servers
2021 brought the dawn of robot servers, bus bots, delivery drivers, and butchers, but we think soon enough, robots could be cooking your eggs and waffles at the hotel breakfast bar. Robots bring automation to the dining experience, which could result in a faster and more consistent product… so it’s not all spooky and sci-fi!
A ghost kitchen is a restaurant kitchen set up to cook and prepare food only for delivery, meaning you can’t just walk in and take a seat, and you can’t pick up either. Wendy’s is opening 700 more of these kitchens over the next five years, while Euromoniter, a market research company, suggests the industry could reach a whopping trillion dollar value (yes, that’s with a t) in the next decade. Yelp even has a feature to help you discover new ghost kitchens in your area, called Virtual Kitchens.
As noted with the plant-based trend, more people are looking for healthy meat replacements that taste delicious. Long-standing vegetarians and vegans have this to say: Have you considered mushrooms? The hearty texture and absorbent quality of mushrooms imitate that meatiness we sometimes crave so much. In 2022, we expect to see an uptick in recipes that call on mushrooms to replace meats.
2020 led people to take time to recreate their fave happy hour bevergino at home. Now, people are looking for the work to be done for them. We think an increase in canned or bottled cocktails will bring 2022 a buzz. From Post Meridiem’s surprisingly delicious Old Fashioned to Drifter Craft Cocktails’ spicy marg, people are looking for a cocktail that’s already made, actually tastes good, and can be brought to a friend’s house or the park without lugging an orange peeler, too.
If you didn’t know espresso martinis were of the moment, where have you been? We know people will continue to order these beverages, much to the chagrin of bartenders everywhere. Yelp even suggested they would be a 2022 trend, saying that the 90s fave was reinvented in bars like Austin’s Devil May Care and Miami’s Chug.
A doggy welcome
Ever heard of a pandemic puppy? It seems like everyone has one, and they all have separation anxiety after nearly two years of constant contact. Dogs are trailing their owners anywhere they go, restaurants included, and many establishments have responded by allowing dogs to accompany owners specifically at outdoor dining spots. Yep, 2022 is looking like a year of waggy tails and wet kisses—if you like that kind of thing.
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