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Social Media and Food Trends: When Food Becomes Novelty


Aimee is a digital marketing specialist who loves all things history. She enjoys writing content about topics she finds interesting.

As social media has grown, companies have thought of new and clever ways to create a buzz around their products.

As social media has grown, companies have thought of new and clever ways to create a buzz around their products.


Food has been at the heart of social media since it was invented. From sharing recipes to posting photos of avocado toast on Instagram, there is a reason why food content is so popular to post, share and engage with.

There are over 400 million posts on Instagram tagged #food and 250 million tagged #foodporn. It’s clear that users love the sight of aesthetically appealing food.

Why is it so popular? Well, it’s universally appealing. No matter what your culture, language, religion, race, gender etc. is, we all need food. In fact, we don’t just need it, I haven’t met anyone who doesn’t absolutely love food.

Scientists have also researched something called ‘visual hunger’, these images across our timeline fuels this visual hunger. I’m sure you’ve been in a situation where you’re practically drooling over your phone screen from seeing a picture of a perfect cheese pull from a pizza or a gooey chocolate cake, I’ll definitely admit to doing this on more than a few occasions.

Social Media Influences Food Trends

It seems like most months, there’s a new viral food sensation that everyone is craving. The supply is scarce and limited, people are queuing up for hours just so they can get a taste and be able to snap a picture to show their followers.

Social media really does influence food trends, the hype it creates means that you’re desperate to try this new and exciting food product before it’s gone!

And honestly? Some of these products don’t even taste nice—they’re strictly for the novelty.

Viral Burgers

One food that is constantly undergoing experimentation is burgers. I mean, you can put just about anything in between two burger buns.

I’m going to go through the top three burgers that went viral and took social media by storm. I’m sure you’ll have heard of the items on this list, due to how big each of them were. So, let’s get into it.

The doughnut burger

The doughnut burger

1. The Doughnut Burger

The calorific doughnut burger is first on our list, also named the Luther burger, apparently invented by Luther Vandross, a singer, songwriter and record producer. Granted this burger first came to light in 2006; however, social media has rocketed this burger to popularity only recently, with Burger King offering a doughnut burger in 2016 for Hanukkah and Krispy Kreme becoming the most popular choice for the buns of this burger.

The question is, is the number of calories worth it for this treat? And does this combo actually go well together?

The black burger

The black burger

2. The Black Burger

Back in 2014, McDonald's rolled out the famous black burger to consumers in Japan. It’s a relatively normal burger, however, the bun is black. Squid ink is used to get this effect; they also dyed the ketchup black.

This release was for Halloween—and certainly got a lot of buzz with consumers flocking to social media to post about their experience trying the black burger.

This creation is definitely for novelty instead of taste; it’s just a burger that’s been dyed, a creative and clever marketing technique from McDonald's.

Burgers drowned in cheese

Burgers drowned in cheese

3. Burgers Drowned in Cheese

I mean, what has the world come to when something you’re meant to pick up and eat with your hands is smothered in some gooey cheese? Sure, this looks great, but where’s the practicality?

We’ve developed an obsession with cheese, everything has to be covered in it. The internet fell in love with these cheese-drenched burgers in 2018 and the cheesy content hasn’t stopped since.

Is this for novelty or taste? The bun ends up soggy, you can’t pick your burger up and you end up with a river of cheese on your plate—definitely novelty.

Ice cream / dessert burgers

Ice cream / dessert burgers

4. Ice Cream / Dessert Burgers

Ice cream combined with meat doesn’t sound too appealing and is a combination I never thought would exist. It just sounds so wrong, but I haven’t ever tried it, so it might taste so right. However, I’ll never know if this odd combination actually tastes decent, the thought of biting into ice cream makes my teeth shiver with fear. What kind of monster bites into ice cream?

Now, if you took out the meat and vegetables, I could maybe get behind it. Two buns with ice cream inside? It would be like a weird s’more.

Even More Viral Food: Little Moons

It’s not just burgers that have benefitted from social media. I’m sure you’ve seen plenty of food blow up overnight.

Look at Little Moons, a company that sells Japanese ice cream treats. Their mochi completely skyrocketed in demand due to TikTok, people complained of the ice cream being sold out everywhere. Their sales in Tesco, a UK supermarket giant, boosted by a massive 700 percent. TikTok users filmed themselves trying the little treats and also filmed themselves hunting for them, showing empty shelves when they visited their local Tesco.

Little Moons

Little Moons

Share Your Comments!

The effect of social media on user’s relationship to food is massive and can be seen with the above examples along with many others. Thanks for reading this article, let me know your thoughts in the comments!

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© 2021 Aimee

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