What Was the Biggest Food Trend of 2022? It Depends on How You Look at It.

A melting, pink ice cream bar for a blog about the top viral food trends of the year.
A melting, pink ice cream bar for a blog about the top viral food trends of the year.

Ever since sourdough starters united the world during the initial COVID-19 lockdown, viral social media food trends have become a pop culture staple. Creative recipes and novelty coffee shop orders come and go, but each year a small number of trends dominate the rest. Wondering what the biggest food trend of 2022 was? The answer isn’t as definite as you might think. We took a look at the biggest viral food trends of 2022 to learn more about how they performed across the world.

Want to connect with food-loving audiences? Make them want a seat at your table with data-driven insights from Birdseye Report: #Foodies on Twitter.

Table of Contents

To learn more about viral food trends, we used our social listening platform to analyze mentions of more than a dozen recent viral food trends. We then narrowed our analysis down to the top five, as determined by the share of voice of mentions of related keywords and hashtags. This gave us the following trends:

Read on to learn a bit more about each one.

Fairy bread

Fairy bread is a slice of buttered bread covered in sprinkles. Though it’s long been popular in Australia and New Zealand, this whimsical kids’ snack had a viral moment in 2022.

Dirty soda

The dirty soda or “Dirty Diet Coke” trend is another regional favorite that hit the big time on social media this year. Popularized in Utah, dirty soda is a mix of diet cola, heavy cream, lime juice, and coconut syrup served over ice. The phrase also refers to other similar mixes of iced soda, creams, and syrups.  

Green goddess salad

Cupcake brand Made by Melissa had a surprise hit when a salad recipe it posted on its blog in January became an internet sensation. Part salad, part dip, this vegan recipe inspired legions of home chefs to try making it themselves and create their own versions.

Cowboy caviar

Despite its name, this viral food is another vegan treat. Cowboy caviar is a dip that combines corn with chopped avocado, tomato, bell pepper, red onion, cilantro, and jalapeño. 

Butter boards

Butter boards are basically charcuterie boards but with butter. A lot of this trend’s appeal lies in the presentation. 

Learn more about the foodies behind the trends in Birdseye Report: #Foodies on Twitter, our audience deep-dive report for the Twitter Official Partner Program.

What Was the Biggest Food Trend of 2022?

Well, it depends. The trend that took over your feed most is related to where on the internet, and in the world, you are. 

There is one giant exception. In the English-speaking world, the biggest food trend of each year is seasonal, predates TikTok, and originated with Starbucks.

Pumpkin Spice Lattes

That’s right: Pumpkin spice lattes, and every possible edible spinoff, are bigger than any other food trend when it comes to share of voice and mentions of related keywords and terms. While not new, comparing viral food trends to the seasonal appearance of #PSL helps us understand just how ubiquitous a food trend can get.

Screenshot from the Meltwater social listening platform of a chart of mentions over time of six food trends.
Screenshot from the Meltwater social listening platform of a ring chart and bar graph of shares of voice by mentions of six food trends.

From January 1 through mid-October 2022, no food trend generated more mentions or had a greater share of voice than pumpkin spice lattes.

Unless you’re in the southern hemisphere that is. Notably, it had the smallest share of voice in Australia, where PSL season arrives during spring rather than autumn, and fairy bread originates.

Screenshot from the Meltwater social listening platform of ring charts showing six food trends' shares of voice by location.

When we look at 2022 food trends without mentions of pumpkin spice lattes, the results reveal how much each one’s popularity varies from audience to audience. By share of voice, butter boards were the biggest food trend of 2022 with cowboy caviar following closely behind, but that metric alone doesn’t tell the whole story.

Screenshot from the Meltwater social listening platform of a ring chart and bar graph of five food trends' shares of voice by mentions.

Mentions Over Time

Screenshot from the Meltwater social listening platform of five food trends' volume of mentions from January 1 to October 15, 2022.

Looking at mentions of each trend over time shows us how intensely “viral” each one was. 

Cowboy caviar racked up a high share of mentions, partly by simmering in popularity over several months — primarily from May through July. However, the latest food trend of the year, butter boards, had much more dramatic spikes in mentions over fewer weeks. If you thought that the butter boards trend suddenly popped up out of nowhere, the above chart shows that you were right.

Share of Voice by Source

Screenshot from the Meltwater social listening platform of five food trends' shares of voice by source.

While butter boards are this year’s most viral trend overall, they weren’t nearly as viral on some platforms as they were on others. They have dominated YouTube and broadcast, but if your online diet consists mainly of reviews, Wechat, Pinterest, and/or message boards, they may not seem like much of a prominent trend at all.

Green goddess salad took over reviews, while cowboy caviar had high shares of voice on Pinterest, blogs, and TikTok. Meanwhile, Redditors, Twitch users, Wechat users, and frequenters of message boards mostly participated in the fairy bread trend. 

Share of Voice by Location

Screenshot from the Meltwater social listening platform showing shares of voice by location of five food trends.

No one is indulging in the fairy bread trend like Australians, where the treat is said to have been invented back in 1929

Butter boards were the most viral food trend in the United Kingdom and Canada but only slightly beat cowboy caviar in the United States.

Meanwhile, dirty soda was predictably more popular in the United States than elsewhere. Finally, green goddess salad had its highest share of voice in Canada.

Download Birdseye Report: #Foodies on Twitter for a deeper look at the consumers behind online foodie communities.

3 Viral Food Trend Takeaways

What does it all mean? Marketers need to keep these three points in mind when tapping into viral food trends.

Using social listening to monitor food trends early lets you see when one starts to skyrocket and, alternatively, when it has already passed. Comparing the rise of emerging trends to those of previous ones can help you predict which will have a “moment” and which have a longer, but less dramatic, lifespan.

The channels and geographic locations you prioritize in your marketing strategy dictate how relevant each one is to your goals. When you run a food trends query in Meltwater Explore, our social listening platform, you can even break the geographic distribution of mentions down by state/province and city.

Screenshot from the Meltwater social listening platform showing the top locations of mentions of the green goddess salad trend.

3. Know your audience

Most of all, marketers need to understand who their audiences are. This, above all, reveals which food trends are worth your investment of resources and time.

We used Explore and its audience insight tool, Communities, to take a closer look at the audience behind food lovers on Twitter. Download Birdseye Report: #Foodies on Twitter, created as part of the Twitter Official Partner Program, to see how to use our social intelligence suite for audience and market research.

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