The Craziest Food Trends of 2019

From cheese tea to activated charcoal, here are the weirdest food trends we saw this year.

As 2019 comes to an end, it's time we reflect on how absolutely wild we've let ourselves get in the kitchen and in the grocery store aisles these past 365 days. Our collective ability to rise above the sushi burritos and rainbow bagels of yesteryear onto weirder and wilder food trends is both horrifying and impressive.

There are, of course, less strange trends that this year brought. Oat milk and plant-based foods proved themselves worthy contenders in the food trend space, showing that human beings, if left to their own devices, will make milk and burgers from just about anything. However, there are more than a few food oddities to which we must pay our respects, the food trends that made us say, "…but why though?" Here are 29 of the strangest food trends of 2019.

1

Activated Charcoal

scoop of activated charcoal powder with charcoal tablets
Shutterstock

From charcoal ice cream to charcoal lattes, we've all tapped into our dark and gothic souls by rushing to consume things that are pitch black. Despite places like New York City cracking down on the sale of charcoal-infused foods, companies like Starbucks are still selling activated charcoal goodies around the world.

2

Mermaid Food

carton of target mermaid ice cream

You don't need to make a deal with a sea witch to take part in the mermaid food craze, which has lead to everything from mermaid ice cream to Mermaid Frappuccinos to mermaid cereal. But fear not: No mermaids are harmed in the making of such foods, as the name typically refers to the rainbow or iridescent coloring.

3

Edible Gold Flakes

Gold leaves
Shutterstock

In what can only be described as overindulgent, gold has made its way onto restaurant menus. From 24-carat chicken wings to the Hard Rock Cafe's summer burger topped with edible gold leaf, you can deck out your dinner plate like you would your wardrobe.

4

Sandwiches With Pickles in Place of Bread

Pickles in jar
Shutterstock

Given how divisive the pickle is, it's miraculous that pickle flavoring has been so pervasive in the snack aisle. If you really want to up your pickle game, places like Elsie's in New Jersey are selling sandwiches, where whole pickles replace the bread. They are not for the faint of heart (or foes of pickled foods).

5

Alcohol Pods

Whiskey alcohol on the rocks
Shutterstock

Companies like Glenlivet are releasing whiskey pods, which, unlike the Tide Pod Challenge of 2018, are meant to be consumed. While the inspiration is certainly questionable, at least they're better than literally chomping on laundry detergent.

6

Seaweed and Algae

seaweed cracker on white plate with chopsticks

Eating the occasional piece of seaweed may be nothing new for fans of sushi. However, seaweed, algae, and kelp are sneaking into the snack aisle as crisps, chips, and crunchy bars.

7

Dessert Hummus

Lantana fruit hummus
Lantana Foods/Facebook

You know we've reached peak hummus when we start wondering whether chickpeas can be dessert. Chocolate, key lime pie, fruit, and brownie batter flavors have all made their way into tubs of hummus, truly pushing the boundaries of what can be dessert.

8

CBD-infused Snacks

CBD oils in wooden spoon and glass bottle
Shutterstock

Whether or not cannabidiol, aka CBD, is here to stay, it's certainly become a popular additive among snack and drink companies. You can sip on CBD water or chew on CBD gummies to mellow out sans THC.

9

Chia Seeds

Chia seeds
Shutterstock

If you would have told all the people in the '80s that we'd be eating chia seeds on the regular, they would have covered the ears of their chia pets, protecting their little plant babies. Now, chia smoothies and chia yogurt are so commonplace, it seems strange we ever planted the seeds at all.

10

Neon-colored Lattes

Tired of lattes that look like lattes? Wish you could drink the rainbow? Welcome to 2019, where golden milk lattes, beetroot lattes, and blue algae lattes let you caffeinate in the most colorful way possible.

11

Mushroom Coffee

Not just for omelets anymore, companies like Four Sigmatic are adding fungi to your morning brew. While some experts claim health benefits like improving cognitive function, there hasn't been much research on the actual impact of superfood 'shrooms.

12

Mainstream Veganism

Vegetarian vegan meal prep with vegetables beans salad olives hummus
Shutterstock

Remember when being vegan was the punchline to every joke? Well, the joke's on all of us, as plant-based food has become so popular that everywhere from your neighborhood grocery store to your local Burger King is offering some sort of vegan menu item.

13

Mukbangs

bowls of korean food pickled vegetables
Lisovskaya/iStock

Just a few years ago, everyone was freaking out about how people were making thousands of dollars a month just by eating large quantities of food on camera. The phenomenon, called Mukbangs, has taken on a whole new level in 2019. You needn't look any further than the YouTube trending page to see just how popular the South Korean-based video trend has become worldwide.

14

Fancy Fast Food

Pizza grease napkin
Shutterstock

From the most expensive slices of pizza to professional chefs recreating Ruffles, finding fancy versions of less-than-fancy foods is almost as easy as finding fast food itself.

15

Haunted Foods

cold stone boo batter ice cream
Courtesy of Cold Stone Creamery

Not to be outdone by activated charcoal, this Halloween season introduced more than a few food items that look cursed, to put it lightly. Burger King's Ghost Whopper, IHOP's disturbingly colored Addams family offerings, and Cold Stone's Boo Batter have all had the internet saying, "…huh?!"

16

Candy-Inspired Items

taco bell skittles strawberry freeze

If you've been searching for a socially acceptable way to eat candy all day, this has been your year. Taco Bell's Skittles Freeze, 7-Eleven's Nerds Slurpee, and Sour Patch Kids Cereal each let you munch on candy all day long in various forms of food and drink.

17

Nostalgic Food Mash-ups

fanta orange snack pack pudding cups
Conagra Brands Inc.

Attention adults: all your childhood favorites are back and no one can stop you from buying them. There are Fanta Snack Packs. There's the old New Coke, courtesy of Stranger Things. There's also something no one asked for but everyone definitely wants: Lisa Frank Hot Dogs. Now, if only Dunkaroos would make a comeback…

18

Condiment Mash-ups

heinz mayomust sauce bottle

In a world of sriracha ranches and sweet chili sauces, Heinz birthed onto the world a new condiment: Mayochup, the mayo and ketchup combo you didn't know you needed. Its success spawned other more condiment mashups like Mayomust (mayo and mustard) and Mayocue (mayo and barbecue sauce).

19

All the Instagrammable Food Boards

wine and cheese board
Shutterstock

Lest you think your average charcuterie board is boring and bland, food boards have become as aesthetically pleasing as any multicolored frappuccino. They are so popular that cheese board influencers are now a thing. A full-time, paying thing.

20

Hot Dog Ice Cream

hot dog combinations with crazy toppings
Shutterstock

Oscar Mayer threatened the internet with a savory hot dog flavored ice cream because it's the one food mashup we haven't done yet.

21

Apple Cider Vinegar

Braggs apple cider vinegar bottles
ThamKC/Shutterstock

The rise of apple cider vinegar as a cure-all reached its apex this year. However, whether or not it actually has the health benefits some tout is still up for debate.

22

Adults Eating "Baby Food"

Squeezable food pouches are not just for kids anymore. Whether you're eating fruit puree as an easy snack on-the-go, the trend harkens back to a simpler, Capri Sun-fueled time. So in a way, it makes sense that some grown-ups are ditching silverware for pouched-based meals.

23

Cheese Tea

hand holding chinese iced tea with boba and cream cheese foam
Theerawan Bangpran/iStock

Yes, you read that correctly. Cheese tea takes your typical brewed tea and tops it with a combination of cream cheese and condensed milk. It is the sweet and salty flavor combination you didn't know you needed.

24

The Chicken Sandwich Wars of 2019

popeyes fried chicken sandwich
Courtesy of Popeyes

Who would have thought that a chicken sandwich would cause such a stir in 2019? Popeyes versus Everyone Else set the internet ablaze this year.

25

Instant Pot Everything

Instant Pot 7-in-1 pressure cooker

Sure, you can make risotto or soup in your Instant Pot. But did you know you can make Instant Pot yogurt? What about Instant Pot clotted cream? Per Google Trends, "Instant Pot" searches spiked at the beginning of the year and with it have come recipes you had no idea you could make in a single pot.

26

Extreme Pumpkin Spice

can of pumpkin spice spam

You think we've reached the epitome of pumpkin spice, and then the year brings us things like Pumpkin Spice Spam and pumpkin spice deodorant. Our love of pumpkin spice is in next-level mode and doesn't appear to be stopping any time soon.

27

Vodka-Filled Balloons

Vodka
Shutterstock

Gone are the days of drinking the spirit from a glass. Instead, this year found people inhaling vaporized vodka from vodka-filled balloons. Let's cross our fingers that these alcoholic balloons with "alcohol mist" don't find their way into 2020.

RELATED: The easy way to make healthier comfort foods.

28

Avocado Ice Cream

carton of cado non dairy avocado dessert

Try as we might, we still can't stop putting avocados in everything. Places like Burger King are still launching new avocado burgers, and companies like Cado are bringing avocados to the ice cream section. Long live the avocado craze.

29

Birthday Cake Flavoring Everywhere

Funfetti cake slice on plate with spoon
Shutterstock

This year alone has given us both Birthday Cake Dr Pepper and Birthday Cake hummus. If we don't stop soon, I fear our birthday cake privileges will be revoked by the universe forever.

Whether or not you tried the craziest food trends of 2019, there are sure to be even more in store next year.

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Mia Mercado
Mia Mercado is a freelance writer based in the Midwest. Read more
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