The Weirdest Food Trends That Are Going To Be Big In 2020

Another year, another bout of really f*cking stupid food trends on the horizon. Lest we forget the year that cauliflower took over the world in the form of rice, pizza, mashed potatoes, and any other carb that brought us joy. Do you remember when we convinced ourselves that milkshakes with towers of desserts balanced precariously on the rim were a good idea? How about that horrible year that everyone was “eating for the Insta”? How about we eat to like, maintain consciousness? Call me old-fashioned, guys. But much as 2020 has managed to fit a dumpster fire of a year in only 9 days, some of the food trends coming our way aren’t going to be that great, either. But others I can’t wait for. You win some, you lose some. After perusing what experts across the internet have to say about it, here are the top 2020 food trends we expect to see f*cking everywhere this year. God save us all.

1. Mocktails And “Soft” Alcohol

Apparently, 2020 will see the rise of mocktails as less something to make fun of and more something that your bestie orders at the bar without trying to be funny or ironic. I guess the good news is that your pregnant friend can still feel like she’s having fun, which means she has one less excuse to bail on girls’ night. The bad news is, from my experience, those bougie juices are gonna run you close to the price of a cocktail anyway. According to Today, “Non-alcoholic bars are popping up all across the country and zero-proof concoctions with delicious juice and tea blends may become just as popular as a glass of wine when it comes to unwinding after work.” Hmm. I’m not sure if a hibiscus kombucha tea-tail will be able to take the edge off a day of meetings and marathon conference calls quite like a gin and tonic, but here’s to trying.

2. Nashville Hot Chicken

I have to hand it to the South: when it comes to comfort food, they know what the f*ck is up. It looks like Nashville Hot Chicken, a southern staple, is going mainstream in 2020, giving me the excuse I didn’t need to eat fried chicken every day from now on. For a dish that was literally born out of rage and spite, the addition of this hot chicken to the KFC menu last year predicts big things for 2020. Fried chicken coated in either pepper oil or crusted with spices then dunked in more hot sauce sounds like a phenomenal way for me to blow out all my hangovers this year.

3. Harissa Everything

Remember the year of Sriracha? It was on pizza, in your pasta, in desserts, and played a starring role in one of my nightmares that I’m still working through in therapy. This year, expect the same fervor around harissa, a spice paste originally hailing from Africa. Named a food trend by TIME in 2015, harissa actually died off a bit between then and now, but is expected to make a comeback. Uber Eats is reporting that orders for dishes containing the spice paste have been on a sharp upturn, so stay tuned for this condiment to end up in nearly everything this year.

4. Zero-Waste Food

Suck it, boomers. Although most of our parents’ generation was all about styrofoam and like, destroying the planet, millennials are clearly here to save the day with zero-waste food taking a firm grip in our collective food culture in 2o20. According to Insider, “Composting and avoiding purchasing foods with excess or wasteful packaging are all ways that home cooks and restaurant chefs will be incorporating the zero-waste trend into the kitchen in 2020.” I’m personally curious how this is going to affect my addiction to GrubHub, PostMates, and Uber Eats, all of which require restaurants to have a lot of to-go packaging (some of which is less green than others).

5. Veganism And Plant-Based Meat

Good news: Vegans will have even more of a reason to share their lifestyle choices with you in 2020, thanks to the huge push toward alternative, lab-grown, and plant-based “meats”. If you can get a fast food behemoth like Burger King to sell a burger made of plants (and a lot of unpronounceable ingredients), you’re well on the way to getting “regular” Americans (see: rednecks) to try something other than deep-fried cow. Spoiler alert: I’m betting there will be a HUGE pushback once people realize the amount of chemicals that are used to make plant-based meats.

6. Healthy Comfort Foods

You know what I want? HEALTHY mac and cheese. Good-for-me fried chicken. Pizza that boosts my energy and gives me clear skin. That sentence started out sarcastic, but now it doesn’t sound so horrible. Apparently, 2020 will see the emergence of comfort foods created to be, like, better for us. That means that the decadent, cheesy, greasy goodness you normally associate with self-soothing, sweatpants, and binge-watch sessions could be getting makeovers with vegan meats, alternative butters, and sauces created from (gag) squash and veggies. These are truly the end times.

7. Ube

If you enjoy desserts and colors that just barely occur in nature, boy, is this the trend for you! If you aren’t familiar, ube is a purple yam used mainly in Filipino cooking and desserts. And with stay at home moms regular people searching the interwebs more than ever for Filipino desserts (see: those tired of the usual Oreo cheesecakes for Jan’s monthly neighborhood get-together), expect to see this weird sh*t everywhere by summer.

8. Alternative Butters And Spreads

According to Whole Foods, the evil empire that allows me to spend my entire paycheck while patting myself on the back for what a great localvore I am: “Think seed butters beyond tahini—like watermelon seed butter—and seasonal products like pumpkin butter year-round. Nut butters beyond cashew, almond, and peanut (hello, macadamia) and even chickpea butters (no, it’s not a new name for hummus).”

Watermelon seed butter? I gotta hand it to some of these hipsters companies for making use of literal trash and attempting to turn it into something trendy. Hot tip, restaurants: swap that avocado toast for watermelon seed toast and charge $25. Brunch just got a lot bougier. And, probably, grosser. Change my mind!

I’m sure there will be stupider trends than these, and I for one can’t wait to see them takeover our Instagram feeds, one influencer at a time. In the meantime, I’ll be chowing down on hot chicken and watermelon seed spread, waiting for the rest of the world to catch on.

Images: Anna Pelzer, Unsplash; Blake Guidry, Unsplash; Fey Marin, Unsplash; Christoper Williams, Unsplash; Sharon McCutcheon, Unsplash; Megumi Nachev, Unsplash; Giphy (3)

Sarah Nowicki
Sarah Nowicki
Sarah Nowicki aka Betchy Crocker writes about food, fashion, and whatever else she's in the mood to complain about for Betches and like, some other people. She resides in Asheville, NC, where she spends her time judging hipsters and holding on to her Jersey heritage and superiority. Yell at her on Instagram @sarahnowicholson