7 dessert fads you’ve completely forgotten about
Unfortunately, the cupcake has a lot of company. We found seven dessert fads that were supposed to take over the world but, sadly, didn’t taste so sweet a few years later.
1. Cigar and tobacco-laced dessert
Was this really a thing? The New York Times seemed to think so.
In 2001, tobacco sauces were the basis for a minor trend. It wasn’t good for you, either—pregnant women and people with heart diseases were supposed to stay away. Chefs used it to add a little spice to their food, but doctors didn’t approve.
“I’ve heard of stupid things in my life,” Dr. David A. Kessler said, encouraging diners to stay away from the trend.
Apparently, they did stay away, because tobacco desserts are mostly just a smoky memory.
2. The kiwi and passion fruit
Until the 1980s, the kiwi was so exotic that it was almost unknown to Western diners. Called the Chinese Gooseberry, the name eventually changed to honor New Zealand, where most of the fruits were grown. Upscale chefs jumped on the trend and kiwi-flavored ice creams soon followed. The fruit went from obscurity to ubiquity and became a major part of the New Zealand economy.
The passion fruit followed in the kiwi’s exotic path, and restauranteurs bought hundreds of pounds at a time. Both fruits became the big trend in ice cream, and foodies predicted that passion fruit ice cream and kiwi ice cream would be the top flavors for years.
Until, of course, they weren’t.
3. Rosie O’Donnell boosts Drake’s Coffee Cakes
Oprah had her book club, but in 1997, Rosie O’Donnell backed a tastier favorite: Drake’s Coffee Cakes.
Her on-air advocacy boosted sales of the coffee cake just as she helped push the Tickle-Me-Elmo to stardom. Rosie ate the cakes on air, interviewed the company’s president, and even forced Cindy Crawford to eat a Ring Ding. She also distributed Drake’s and milk to all her audience members.
Rosie may have started a Drake’s boom, because the coffee cake appeared on Friends and Seinfeld. The Drake’s fad seemed unstoppable (until it stopped).
4. The Chipwich gives ice-cream sandwiches a cookie flavor
In the early 1980s, one craze swept the nation. It was called the Chipwich.
It was as simple as an ice-cream sandwich made with chocolate-chip cookies, but it became ubiquitous everywhere from street corners to the grocery aisle. Good Humor, Dolly Madison, Vroman, and Kraft all put Chipwiches on the shelves. Though you can still find a Chipwich today, it’s no longer the phenomenon it once was.
5. Tiramisu takes over Japan
It’s not exactly hard to find strange fads in Japan. If you stretch, you can even note that oxygen became a dessert fad in 1988. But while there have always been odd trends in Japan, in 1991, tiramisu became a phenomenon.
The tiramisu trend followed a mini-boom in cheesecake, but the Italian treat notched much higher sales. How big was it? One company that sold mascarpone cheese from Italy saw sales increase from 3 tons to 140 tons in just a couple of years. Tiramisu flavor was so hot that KFC, Wendy’s, and Japanese fast food chains all launched their own versions.
The Europhillic trend moved markets, but it didn’t sweeten Japanese plates for long.
6. Sourdough puffs are unstoppable. Or not
In 1986, some foodies were confident a new trend would take over the dessert market: sourdough puffs.
The puffs were pieces of fried dough with different toppings. Sourdough Puff Co., based in San Francisco, signed agreements to open 255 Golden Fresh Puffs franchises.
If you haven’t noticed, there’s probably not a sourdough puff franchise down the block. At the time, even the company’s president, Timothy Ryan, seemed to know the risks of being just a fad.
“If you stand still, somebody gains on you,” he said. “Food retailing is so dynamic, it changes overnight.”
7. Just desserts
The final dessert fad? Desserts.
In 1999, decadence was in and desserts were the best way to get it. Restaurants jumped on the trend of dessert tasting, dessert flights, and a main course of…more dessert.
Confit was particularly popular, but any tasty treat would do. One chef mused, “I think everywhere in New York now, everyone is trying to make a lasting last impression.”
And, just like all the other fads, that impression faded away.