A Few Times F&W Accurately Predicted the Future of Food and a Whole Bunch of Times We Got It Hilariously Wrong

Powdered alcohol, a year of porridge, eating "face flies," and other weird food predictions we made over the years

Food & Wine's Best and Worst Food Trends of All Time

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Food & Wine has been making predictions about the future of food since 1979. Sometimes we've been spot-on (that Redzepi guy made something of a name for himself) and others kinda fly in the face of how things actually played out. These are a few of our favorite hits and misses from the past four and a half decades and may we all live long enough to become completely ridiculous — or absolute geniuses. 

Why2K? (1979)

New Year's Day, AD. 2000 — the dawn of a new millennium. Last evening, Mr. and Ms. Trencherperson attended a small party at the home of friends. The host emptied a few packets of grainy powder into the crystal punch bowl, added three 750-milliliter boule of spring water, et voila! Instant "Champagne." … In the future we may favor insects as an alternate source of protein. For example, tons of face flies, which are similar to the common housefly, can be raised — pupae and adults — on a ready diet of cow manure. Face flies have little or no taste, but contain up to 53% protein. Dr. Edwin W. King, of South Carolina's Clemson Universitv, has experimented with farming face flies in a cattle feedlot. He envisions the eventual mass marketing of the face fly as human food: the Hamburger Helper of AD. 2001.

It Took a Teeny Bit Longer (1983)

Martinis? We've heard rumbling from several forecasters, including George Lang, that the Martini (along with the 1960 Martini culture) is on the rebound. But Impact's research doesn't confirm it; the forecaster of this trend are dreaming, says Marvin Shanken, editor and publisher of Impact, a newsletter for the wine and spirits industry.

Dōmo Arigatō (1983)

With the age group that traditionally provides the bulk of the food industry's workforce dwindling as the baby boom generation grows up, restaurant trade publications forecast a labor crisis in the near future. But one newly formed fast-food company in Canada claims it has the answer: It plans to use robots to wait on customers!

Oh, Man (1983 and 2003)

The Dawning of the Age of the American Chef: Top American chef: will be recognized as equal to me best Europe has to offer — and a good number of them will be women, predicts George Lang.

Trends: Leading Ladies | Sex and the Sommelier: On hectic Saturday nights at Fortunato, an Italian bistro in Chicago, 31-year-old Amanda Jobb does double duty. She's the sommelier, but she'll help check coats if the hostess gets swamped. This multitasking, alas, can cause confusion. Jobb likes to recount the story of an older couple who, having enjoyed a selection from the all-Italian wine list, asked to meet the person who had discovered the bottle. "So I go over and we talk for 10 minutes about the producer and about grapes," she says. "And when the waiter gets back, the man tells him, 'My, the coat-check girl certainly knows a lot about wine!'"

Like many other veteran diners, the man was accustomed to male sommeliers. Or, more precisely, he still believed in the sommelier stereotype: a supercilious male in a tuxedo with a silver tastevin around his neck. Jobb wants nothing to do with that cliché. "Just so you know, I really don't like being called a sommelier," she says, adding that she prefers the term wine director instead. To her, sommelier is a relic from the era when women weren't allowed to pour a single glass, let alone compile their own lists.

Water You Talking About? (1987)

It Tastes Just Like Water: Whether it's because of fear of pollution or because of health claims for adding minerals to the diet or just because most tap water these days tastes like unleaded regular. Americans are buying more and more bottled water — both imported and domestic, bubbly and still. natural or flavored with citrus. Sales of bottled water have risen 300% in the last decade, and consumption is expected to climb 12 to 15% in 1987 and the years to follow. Currently, 15% of Americans drink bottled water. Californians drink 40% of all the bottled water sold.

Up in Smoke (1987 and 1998)

The right to smoke or be smoke-free is fast becoming a major social issue in public places, especially in restaurants where people's taste and palate may be affected by cigar and cigarette smoke from nearby tables. Look for more and more restaurants to establish smoking and nonsmoking sections in their restaurants and for more local legislatures like Denver's to pass laws requiring restaurants to offer both kinds of seating.

Restaurateurs are printing requests on their menus that people refrain from smoking cigars or pipes. and one Manhattan restaurant, Lavin's , has a notice on its menu that goes one step further: "No cigars, no pipes, clove cigarettes, Patchouli or Giorgio in the dining room please."

To Smoke or Not to Smoke: As city councils struggle to enact no-smoking regulations in restaurants, some establishments are catering to the smoking crowd with special nights. Yuca (an acronym for Young upscale Cuban-Americans) in Coral Gables offers Cigar and Pipe Nights on Mondays. At Ma Maison in Los Angeles, every first Monday of the month is Cigar Night, and a sliding roof opens to let out the smoke so that non-smokers can breathe a little easier. Other restaurants are installing powerful air purifiers. Art's Bar & Grill in Riverside, Calif., for example, has air filters above smokers' tables. On the other hand, some restaurants have prohibited smoking entirely, including Bino's in Arlington Heights, IL, Joe's Bar B-Q in Chino, CA, and the appropriately named Nosmo King in New York City.

A Tipping Point (1989)

It Could Happen Here: Tipping maitre d's, captains, waiters, bartenders,coat-check and washroom attendants has never been high on anyone's list of favorite things to do. Yet it is such an entrenched tradition that most restaurateurs wouldn't dare put a service charge smack on the bill, despite recent federal government regulations that force them to account for their staffs' tips. A few upscale restaurants now have built-in service charges — New York City's Hubens as well as the Quilted Giraffe, Santa Monica's Michael's and Denver's Rattlesnake Club, for instance — but there is little likelihood it will become a standard of the industry in the 1990s.

The Trump Card (1989)

Food & Wine's Top 10 List of Things We Hope We Shall Not See in 1989: Donald Trump opening up a chain of hamburger stands called Trump Towers, where the staff all wear yellow power ties.

Food & Wine's Best and Worst Food Trends of All Time

Jerry Simpson / Food Styling by Anne Disrude

Totally Bananas (1989 and 1991)

The Year of the Banana: According to Karen Caplan of Frieda' Finest Produce Specialties in Los Angeles, 1989 will be the "year of the banana," with many new varieties making their appearance — manzanos, called apple bananas, from Central America; burros, chunky bananas with a square shape; red bananas, reddish purple-brown with a red tinge inside; and starchy plantain , which will become more popular than ever in cooking.

Yes, We Have Bananas: Few foods have attracted more attention this year than the banana, which is turning up in both traditional and innovative ways. New York's Eldorado Petit offers a scrumptious Spanish banana-flan cake, while Wayne Nish at March restaurant in Manhattan makes a luxurious banana mousse with a warm chocolate center. Rick and Deann Bayless of Chicago's Topolobampo use banana leaves to steam seafood in, like Chilean sea bass with achiote and sour orange juice, while the hip hangout called Coffee Shop in Manhattan tops tuna steak with banana relish.

'Shroom to Experiment (1990)

The Fruits and Veggies in Your Future: According to Karen Caplan of Frieda's Finest Produce Specialties in L.A., 1990 will be a year when Americans discover: Colored potatoes. Horned  melons, also called by their trademark name, Kiwanos. They have a subtle taste that is a combination of cucumber, banana, and lime. Microwavable, pre-cut, packaged vegetables, like a stir-fry with bok choy, Nappa cabbage, celery and carrots. We're also hearing about: Craisins, trademark name for dried cranberries sweetened with sugar. Keriberi: a new brambleberry with  blackberry flavor that some foodies are finding irresistible. Mushrooms. Green Giant is packaging exotic varieties like straw mushrooms, once available only in specialty stores.

Green Daze (1991)

Riding the Ecological Wave: Going for Green Consciousness or Just the Green Dollar?: The hysteria of nutritional terrorism seems to have abated somewhat, and champions of fine cooking like Julia Child have gone to the barricades in defense of the pleasures of eating well. Even Russell Baker took a swipe at those who would make all of us feel guilty by suggesting restaurants install separate sections for "rich-food eaters" and "right-eating people." But on the heels of that debate comes a new, more far-reaching concern. It's apparent that ecological issues will greatly affect the way we raise, slaughter, prepare, package and consume food in the '90s. With more than 90% of the respondents to a Gallup poll saying they'd be willing to make special efforts to buy products from companies with good environmental records, and 84% in a Louis Harris poll saying they'd buy organic foods if they cost the same as nonorganic foods, you can bet the food industry is listening.

According to Jeff Manning, Senior VP of Ketchum Advertising USA, "Fewer pesticides will be used as the press and consumers 'force' retailers to look for alternatives. Disease resistance will be bred into seed. New technologies for cleaning fruit and vegetables will be developed. Organic will become much more mainstream." Last year 5,700 "green" products, that is, products supposedly harmless to the environment, were introduced, including a slew of baby foods made from organically grown vegetables and fruits. Some of these new products may be gimmicky, but many producers are donating part of their profits to ecology groups. 

A Germ of an Idea (1998)

While it could be argued that we live in the cleanest of times, the specter of germs and bacteria looms large in the public imagination. Fittingly enough, a host of products has appeared to allay (or is it feed?) those fears, from detergents like Sani-Hand and fruit and vegetable washes like Organiclean to such thermometers as the Taylor Digital Instant-Read, which promises to reveal the exact inner temperature of meat.

You'd Butter Believe It (2000)

Fat in all its guises — especially butter from France, Italy and Scandinavia — will make a comeback in the 21st century. 

Circling Back (2002)

Square pots and pans, from Le Creuset, Lodge, Wearever. A perfect complement to all the new square plates.

Bulli for You (2007)

Scandinavia’s Avant-garde Cuisine: Until recently, Scandinavian cuisine hasn’t had a reputation for daring innovation. But a new generation of chefs who’ve trained at places like El Bulli in Spain are using the best regional ingredients (horse mussels, cloudberries, musk ox) to create dishes unlike any others on the planet. In Copenhagen, Rene Redzepi of Noma, Rasmus Grønbech of Prémisse and Bo Bech of Restaurant Paustian are the chefs to watch. Among Sweden’s culinary stars are Fredrik Andersson of Mistral in Stockholm and Magnus Ek of Oaxen Skärgårdskrog, in the nearby Swedish archipelago.

The oft-imitated, singularly talented chef Ferran Adrià of Spain’s El Bulli wants to help other mad-scientist cooks like him. His Texturas line includes ingredients and tools (hard-to-find powders, intricate spoons and syringes) for creating his famous airy foams, fruit-flavored "caviar," consommé pastas and other fanciful foods.

Bacon a Scene (2007)

Whether it’s a crisp shard garnishing bread pudding or crumbles on maple ice cream, bacon is subtly making its way into desserts. And not so subtly: When bacon impresario Dan Philips of the Grateful Palate collaborated on a bacon-themed dinner at The Brown hotel in Louisville, Kentucky, pastry chef Brian Logsdon created this bacon-studded baklava for dessert.

Game for That (2009)

Restaurants have become high-tech entertainment centers. Boston’s Persephone offers Guitar Hero stations. UWink, in L.A. and Mountain View, California, is the brainchild of Atari founder Nolan Bushnell; customers order from touch screens that double as game consoles.

Bowled Over (2017)

“One word: porridge,” says Pisces chef Richard Blais of Juniper and Ivy in San Diego. “Porridge is going to be big in 2017. Oatmeal, congee, farrotto, polenta, cream of huitlacoche — all with mix-and-match toppings.

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