Each year, Google reveals its annual list of top food searches, which are representative of the most popular food trends and recipes of the year. With half of this year’s list stemming from either celebrities or social media, it is clear that “going viral” has a major impact on what consumers are searching for. Here are the top ten food searches from Google in 2021 and what they reveal about the current status of the food and beverage industry.
Top Ten Food Searches
- TikTok feta pasta
- Bacon jam
- Birria tacos
- Crockpot chicken
- Squid Game cookie
- Baked Oats
- Gigi Hadid pasta
- Smashed potatoes
Social Media’s Impact
Video creation app TikTok has had a massive impact on the food industry this year. One baked pasta recipe that went viral — featuring feta cheese, cherry tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, herbs and pasta — was dubbed the “TikTok feta pasta” and earned the top spot on Google’s top food searches. The recipe quickly took over users’ “For You” pages on the app and its popularity became even more evident when feta cheese became harder to find in grocery stores.
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Meanwhile, celebrities like Gordon Ramsay and Gigi Hadid also had their influence. Bacon jam earned the second spot on Google’s top food searches thanks to Ramsay after he posted his own recipe for bacon jam toast topped with eggs on TikTok. Similarly, home chefs around the world tried their hand at Hadid’s version of pasta topped with spicy vodka sauce.
Netflix’s most-watched series of 2021, Squid Games, also had its moment of fame. Thousands, if not millions of TikTok users sought to recreate the show’s famous dalgona candy cookies, with many users attempting the dalgona challenge from the series.
Cooking From Home and Trying New Flavors
With vaccines only becoming widely available later in 2021, many consumers became more comfortable cooking from home and expanding their palates. Following in the footsteps of 2020, people continued to cook new dishes and tried to recreate their go-to restaurant meals at home. This trend is captured by the fourth and tenth spots on the list, Crockpot chicken and smashed potatoes.
Consumers didn’t just stick to familiar flavors this year. Mexico’s Birria tacos came in at number three, while Hamantaschen, a pastry eaten during the Jewish holiday of Purim, came in at number five. People even gave edible insects a chance, which earned cicadas the eighth spot on the list. Interestingly, the insect appeared on Google’s top food search list 17 years ago. Its return to the list this year sparked debates about whether they were safe to consume.
Though the food and beverage industry may view social media as an influence of the younger generation, brands should pay attention to upcoming trends to get ahead and keep shelves stocked for what’s in demand. Also, companies should not be afraid to push the boundaries when it comes to flavors since consumers will likely continue experimenting in the kitchen in the coming year.
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