2017’s Top 30 Food Buzzwords

30 Food Buzzwords

Posted: Dec. 06, 2017

The year 2017 can be remembered as a bold time to dine out in the United States. Respected restaurant consultancy agency Baum + Whiteman pulled up the trendiest buzzwords in 2017. Check them out below.


Chefs are looking for ways to transform their kitchen discards into edible food for customers. We wrote about the value of serving ugly food to decrease waste here.

Goth Foods

Adding charcoal to your food doesn’t sound appealing, but some kitchens are using activated charcoal to turn their food black. The goth foods trend has been around for at least two years when chefs first used squid ink or charred vegetables to turn food black. Activated charcoal is just as effective though, and more versatile.

This buzzword seems to be geared towards Instagram-thirsty restaurants.

Blended Burgers to Reduce Meat Content

Like meatless butcher shops, blended hamburgers (think: beef and mushrooms or beef and beans) are appealing to consumers who are consciously eating less meat. 

The leading culinary school in the United States, the Culinary Institute of America, cited the blended burger as an effective way to reduce fat content, lower food costs, and alleviate the demand for cattle farming during their Menu of Change conference.

Customers ages 40 and under are mindfully opting to consume less and less meat, and the fast food industry is responding. Sonic is the first fast-food company to release a blended burger that’s 70% beef and 30% mushrooms. Surprisingly, consumers say the blended ‘Slinger’ patty tastes better than the original.

With the added bonus of having less fat content and calories and a lower carbon footprint, it’s likely that the blended burger trend will become a new staple in American gastronomy. 

Dessert-Themed Buzzwords

Dessert menus have undergone major renovations this year. These top five dessert trends reveal the broad spectrum desserts now cover. 

Here is a list of the unique and the most buzzed-about desserts in 2017:

  • Cotton candy on desserts—You used to have to wait for a carnival or fair to fix your cotton candy cravings, but not anymore. Restaurants like Barton G’s in Miami or any of these 15 in Los Angeles have made cotton candy a dessert staple for their customers.
  • Syringes for injecting flavor are being used in frozen desserts, cakes, and donuts. (But syringes aren’t limited to just sweets, they can be used for savory foods, too, like this modern version of Indian street food.)
  • Thai rolled ice cream is one of 2017’s newest ice cream trends. Ice cream is flattened on an ice-cold stone plate and mixed with ingredients chosen by customers. It’s then mixed, chopped, and flattened into a very thin layer before rolled into the final product. Epicurious Philadelphia has opened several rolled ice cream shops in the last year, like Sweet Charlie’s and Ice Land.
  • Bubble waffle ice cream cones look like they’re wrapped in a waffle version of bubble-wrap. The flavor of ice cream in a cone is the same, but the texture of a bubble waffle ice cream cone is crispier. They also make for more interesting Instagram pictures.
  • Alcohol-infused desserts—Don’t wait until after dessert to offer a digestivo; combine the two in an alcohol-infused dessert.
  • Globalized ice cream flavors are pulling customers in with their exotic and unique flavor profiles. Check out a list of ice creams from around the world here.


The haute culinary world believes the marshmallow to be an underrepresented ingredient. The fluffy, sugary confection is appearing on ingredient lists from some big-named restaurants, even in savory dishes.

Chef Phillip Foss of the Michelin-starred EL Ideas in Chicago likes to add marshmallows because they “put familiarity on the table and have guests transferred to their youth.” They’re also versatile.

Bond incorporates marshmallows into several dishes, describing how as an ingredient, “It slowly melts into a hot dish (or drink [like the chili-spiced hot chocolate]) and changes the flavor as you go, or gives a little surprise when you get to it.” To this master chef, marshmallows are “a nice compliment to both the squash and root vegetables.”  

Plant/Vegetable Butchers

In December 2016, we announced the rise of vegetarianism as a major trend for 2017. Specifically, that meat eaters were adopting vegetarian eating preferences. We wrote that “consumers under 40 have increased their annual intake of fresh and frozen vegetables by 52% and 59% respectively.”

Through 2017, we found the trend to gain momentum, as consumers sought vegan alternatives to meat products, like hamburger patties or bacon.

The reduction in meat consumption has opened the door for avant garden vegetable shops; vegetable shops that cater to the faux meat needs of consumers. These plant and vegetable “butcher” shops often replicate the look of a traditional butcher shop, except instead of spareribs and meatballs in the display window, customers find their vegetarian alternatives.

"Plant-Based" Everything

Even though consumer behavior is shifting towards plant-based foods, it’s important to stress that most are not committing to a vegetarian diet full time. Instead, consumers are seeking out ethically-farmed meat, from both their grocery stores and restaurants.

This distinction in quality is important to consumers, and it’s going to change the food manufacturing business. This is made evident by the fact that Tyson Foods, the leading meat producer in the United States, invested in faux meat burger company Beyond Meat.

As a restaurant owner or manager, consider the quality of your plant-based dishes. Are vegetables limited to side dishes? Research your community and customers, and add some weighty vegetarian dishes to your menu. Customers are more likely to patronize restaurants that appeal to their ethical and nutritional sensibilities than those that do not. 

Frozecco and Frosé

The summer of 2017 was burning hot, and some inventive players in the restaurant industry cooled customers down with icy prosecco and rose drinks. These sophisticated slushies blend fresh fruits like strawberry or kiwi with ice and are topped with bubbly or rose.

Silly One-Item Specialty Restaurants

Restaurateurs are looking for new ways to set themselves apart from the competition. One way of doing that is to open one-item specialty restaurants. These restaurants devote their entire menu to one food item. Here were some of 2017’s most popular choices:

  • Avocado
  • Marshmallow
  • Cream cheese
  • Iced tea
  • Raw cookie dough

While some can boast longevity, like an iced tea- or avocado-themed restaurant, other foods lean towards gimmicky. Baum + Whiteman wonders just how long these specialty restaurants can last.

Remaining 2017 Food Industry Buzzwords

Many of 2017’s buzzwords show the adventurous side of the US dining landscape:

  • Modern Indian fast-casual dining
  • Charred bitter flavor profiles
  • Honeycomb
  • Labne
  • New life for churros
  • Sushi burgers in rice cakes
  • Seaweed
  • Jackfruit
  • Philippine cuisine
  • Purple yams (ube)
  • Hemp

Some of these buzzwords will wither away, but most are gaining momentum. The 2017 food buzzword list is telling of how open and curious the restaurant industry—and American consumers—have become with their food. If you have some wacky ideas for your restaurant, you’re in good company.

Posted: Dec. 06, 2017 | Written By: Emma Alois



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