NYT Food Writer Talks Food Trends Over The Past 50 Years: From Sun-Dried Tomatoes to Food Bowls

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Foods have gone in and out of style over the years—and sometimes it's fun to think about the  popular food trends of the past and those of today. So, NY Times food writer Melissa Clark is back to talk about the food fads from the '70s, '80s, and '90s. Plus, she's sharing one of her favorite food trends of today.  

In the '70s, the food trend was...Fondue 


"Fondue pots were at the height of their popularity in the ‘70s, when folks would fill them up with melty cheese. It provides a communal meal experience for a family who got tired of eating takeout around the TV," Melissa says. "It then started to evolve with chocolate fondue and hot oil to dip and cook meat in."  

Want to try some? Rach's cheese fondue recipe is our go-to. Or try a variation with Rach's Irish Whiskey and Beer Cheese Fondue or Pumpkin Filled with Fonduta (Fondue Made Without Alcohol).  

In the '80s, the food trend was... Sun-Dried Tomatoes 

sundried tomatoes

"Sun-dried tomatoes in anything! Sun-dried tomatoes surged in popularity in the United States in the late 1980s to early 1990s, where they were often found in antipasto, tapas, pasta dishes and salads," Melissa explains. 

"They were considered a flavor firecracker, and a perfect way to get some flavor at a time of the year when nothing tasted good. Sun-dried tomatoes became an accessible luxury and a go-to seasoning for home cooks," she adds.  

We love sun-dried tomatoes in Chef Scott Conant's Make-Ahead Antipasto Salad with Oregano Vinaigrette and Dr. Ian Smith's Easy Chicken Pasta with Pesto Cream Sauce and Sundried Tomatoes. Delish! 

In the '90s, the food trend was... Molten Lava Chocolate Cake 

lava cake

When we say Molten Lava Chocolate Cake, we’re essentially talking about a dense chocolate cake filled with hot, liquid chocolate. Yum!  

"This was a dessert trend that could be found on almost every chic, urban restaurant menu throughout the 1900s. Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten allegedly invented this ooey-gooey dessert in 1987 by accident for his restaurant after he undercooked a batch of chocolate cupcakes and their insides were melted," Melissa says. Definitely sounds like one of the best cooking mistakes ever made!  

"Originally known as the Chocolate Valrhona cake, the molten lava cake really took off in popularity in 1991, and started making its appearance in restaurants across the country," Melissa adds. 

Sunny Anderson's Molten Chocolate Surprise Cake and Wolfgang Puck's Chocolate Lava Cake are both great versions of this drool-worthy treat.  

And today, a popular food trend is... Food Bowls 

Salmon Rice Bowls
Melissa Clark

"Food bowls are very trendy right now. A complete, balanced meal in a single bowl – that's the idea behind the food bowl trend," Melissa explains.  

"The ingredients used can vary, usually consisting of nutritious classics, popular superfoods and foods unique to other dietary choices. Aside from being customizable and including everything you may need for a filling meal, food bowls are known to please the eye as well," she says—like her healthy, and pretty Salmon Rice Bowl. We also highly recommend you try some of our other popular food bowls from recent shows, including Rach's Vegan Asian-Style Veggie and Quinoa Bowls, these viral "Scholar Bowls" From TikTok and Kelsey Nixon's Tangy BBQ Chicken Grain Bowls.  

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