So Hot Right Now

The Instagram Food Trends That Need to Die—According to You

July  6, 2017

Last week, our social team posted a picture of a pie crust with a lattice that resembled a pair of fishnets, and, with it, posed a question to our followers: What Instagram food trends are you sick of seeing? (We asked the same on Twitter.)

A fair question. It seems every day brings another gastronomic fad, mislabeled as a “trend” (see this Twitter thread for a cogent explanation of the difference) that chokes Instagram feeds. And a real pastime of food and lifestyle media—us included—is stoking those flames of obsession, feeding the frenzy. Think of any food that’d prompt a food writer like me to lazily declare that it’s “too pretty to eat.”

We've collected nearly 400 responses across Instagram and Twitter, and I spent last night combing through them. It didn’t take very long to see some clear patterns emerging: a shared, profound distaste for avocado toast. A dislike of smoothie bowls. Frankenfood fatigue. Aversion towards any photos of food that are over-posed, over-stylized, and difficult to imagine an actual human eating. Here’s what we found, typos massaged.

The Repeat Offenders

The rest

  • Sprinkles
  • Acai
  • “Sexy pie” (hm)
  • Cauliflower Rice
  • “Pixelated fruit” (fruit that’s been sliced meticulously into many small cubes)
  • “Outrageous desserts that are actually 6 dessert items on top of a fish-shaped cone
  • “Giant hamburgers that no one could possibly eat, and Bloody Mary’s with said hamburger as garnish”
  • Edible flowers
  • “Cramming multiple processed foods together, like crescent roll pepperoni lasagna pizza”
  • Spiralized zucchini, beets, butternut squash
  • Nutella
  • “Disgusting tomato dishes people try to pass off as shakshuka”
  • Coconut oil
  • Soup shooters
  • “Popping egg yolks in a very sexual way”
  • Avocado roses
  • Mug cakes
  • Poké (hm)
  • Sushirittos
  • Spirulina
  • Turmeric “bastardized into foods that should never come near it” (I agree!)
  • Videos of cookies or cakes or burrata being cut open or broken apart and exploding with gooey centers
  • Towering layer cakes
  • Styling food with inedible items, like stems and leaves
  • “The image of just a hand holding an ice cream”
  • Activated charcoal ice cream

Anyway, joke’s on us, because we’ve written about most of these.

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If you’ve got a food trend fatigue you don’t see represented on this list, make your voice heard. Express displeasure in the comments.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Connie
  • Kelle
  • Kim Johnson
    Kim Johnson
  • Lynne
  • miznic
Mayukh Sen is a James Beard Award-winning food and culture writer in New York. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, the New Yorker, Bon Appetit, and elsewhere. He won a 2018 James Beard Award in Journalism for his profile of Princess Pamela published on Food52.


Connie August 1, 2017
I second cauliflower rice and spiral anything.
Kelle July 13, 2017
Eat food. Be happy. Repeat 3x daily.
Elizabeth July 14, 2017
Kim J. July 13, 2017
Oh! you picked my Insta-comment!!! Everyone feel free to line up for my autograph.
Lynne July 11, 2017
I searched macarons on Pinterest and got everything and some kitchen-sink shaped ones too. Seriously though, I'm done with the current one-upmanship about e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g. Take macaron, bacon, avocado, spaghetti, burger whatever, and turn it on its head, denature and torture it beyond any doability-eatability to show your mind-blowing originality. And, oh, generate clicks. It's no longer food, it's advertising. Sigh.
miznic July 9, 2017
- Bacon in everything. There are some places bacon doesn't belong.
- The need to turn every vegetable out there into noodles.
- I'm not over gluten-free foods. I'm over the stores jacking the price on those foods. The idea that it's discouraging the ones using GF as a fad is a myth - it's not discouraging them, it's keeping those foods out of the hands of people that really need them. (Like my sister, who found out she had a wheat allergy a few years ago.)
Elizabeth July 14, 2017
My son also has wheat issues, so GF is important.
Stephanie B. July 9, 2017
"Deconstructed" anything.
Elizabeth July 14, 2017
Ahahahahaa, it's so pretentious.
Emily L. July 7, 2017
I want to be friends with the person who said “Disgusting tomato dishes people try to pass off as shakshuka”
karen K. July 9, 2017
Me too!!
miznic July 9, 2017
*raises hand* Me three.
Elizabeth July 14, 2017
Lol, yes so do I! I love that comment, and laughed.
Reg N. July 6, 2017
Every single thing on that list. Especially since 'activated charcoal' is my new pet hate
Reg N. July 6, 2017
Oh and lattes served in silly things. Avolatte I'm looking at you
Elizabeth July 14, 2017
I saw a photo of activated charcoal., deconstructed fish and chips a couple of days ago. Looked like giant dog droppings, black from chewing charcoal capsules to alleviate Gas.
shelley July 6, 2017
Ditto on the 'Play-Doh' rainbow bagels
Quinn July 6, 2017
Also, dried rose petals as a garnish. It's essentially potpourri. Blech.
Jaye B. July 13, 2017
Bravo! LOL, could not have been said better, Quinn.
Erin July 6, 2017
Smoothie bowls irritate the life out of me. I've tried, but just don't get why they are a thing.
Agnieszka T. July 6, 2017
Lol agree! Probably because they are good you really really really would like to live on... but you can't ! 😂
Agnieszka T. July 6, 2017
Food - sorry typo! And didn't meat "you" but people who love these. Hugs
Kerry July 7, 2017
Seriously! Wouldn't it just make sense to drink it from a cup? I was so intrigued by them (they are so pretty!) but looked at a recipe and was like - this is soup!
HalfPint July 6, 2017
I still love avocado toast. I just don't care for the trend of $13 for it :(
Tara July 6, 2017
Gluten-free foods exist because people with Celiac or wheat allergies have no choice. Survival = food trend of the year.
Mayukh S. July 6, 2017
Yeah, that was an odd thing to see pop up more than once.
Kerry July 6, 2017
While Celiac/wheat allergies are no joke, there are many people who are gluten free purely out of the trend. You cannot deny that it has become a huge marketing ploy for people beyond those suffering with Celiac.
Agnieszka T. July 6, 2017
I've been diagnosed with Celiac and severe IBS months ago after years of trying to figure out on my own what is wrong with my insides. Costly, complicated tests later - the diagnosis came at last and I'm slowly healing on low carb and mostly Paleo diet ( it's a combo of Keto- gluten free - paleo). Now I know BUT everywhere I go to eat, shop for food etc or simply get into discussions with people about eating habits I get eye rolls and sights. Seems to be that because of all the fad diets followed by people it seems extravagant for others that I eat 5 things on rotation. I would switch my place with somebody healthy in a heart beat. That said- I wish people would actually stop worrying about which picture gives them most likes and thought about those who have to live with it. ( guarantee number of gluten free posts would plummet).
Kerry July 6, 2017
I really agree that people are using "Gluten Free" as a marketing gimmick - even for things that are naturally gluten free! I'm glad you found out what was wrong with you and it sounds like you're on a good path to find some relief!
Agnieszka T. July 6, 2017
Yes- thank you! Learning every day!
Liza July 7, 2017
The only good thing to come out of the gluten free as health food trend is that people with celiac or serious conditions that don't allow them to eat gluten now have better options. Even 5 years ago, finding good gluten free alternatives was nearly impossible, now they're everywhere. But what still gets me are the people eating gluten free because somehow it's "healthy," yet they're eating all the processed gluten free junk food. Eat some damn vegetables (and meat if you're down with it). But don't tell me that gluten free candy bar is healthier.
Kerry July 7, 2017
Exactly, Liza!
Cori July 7, 2017
I'm glad the Gluten Free "trend" has brought more options overall - but unfortunately because it's a trend a lot of "gluten free" foods are mislabeled, not labeled properly, or still contain gluten but less than 20 ppm which is still gluten containing in my point of view. I have Celiac disease too and it's a life threatening disease and I'm so, so tired of having to call companies for information or ask if their product is tested for gluten when they claim "gluten free" or "no gluten added" or "naturally gluten free" because none of these claims are regulated. So, food trend...maybe good for some more options, but bad for eye rollers and companies/servers/restaurants that don't take it seriously anymore.
Liza July 7, 2017
Oh wow I didn't know that about the mislabeling! Good to know. I'm sorry you have to do so much research just to eat. That almost defeats the benefit of having more options in the first place. That's lame.
Elizabeth July 14, 2017
Yes, like rice. I notice now that there are large statements on packs of rice now saying 'Gluten Free'. They seem to assume people are idiots.
Elizabeth July 14, 2017
emgoh September 8, 2017
I think they need to change that to the trend of people who don't HAVE to be gluten-free but choose to snarf up all the GF food at a gathering leaving those with Celiac without a meal. If I'm curious about a GF dish, I'll wait until the people who need it get their share. Otherwise it's just plain rude and disrespectful (and I've seen it happen at too many group dinners and potlucks).
cyanpineapple July 6, 2017
Let people enjoy things.
kim July 9, 2017
cyan ~ best comment of all!