More than ever before, creative hybrid foods are emerging and going viral thanks to social media platforms like Instagram and Tik Tok where users are trying to find the next big, (sometimes ridiculous) food or drink. It’s a fun way for creators to stretch their imaginations and experiment with new flavors that might become a new classic or just a delicious moment in time. Here are a few trendy ways people are playing with their food in 2020.
When talking about hybrids, of course the number one viral food trend of 2020 that comes to mind is the new way kids are eating pancakes during quarantine. It all started in May with a Tik Tok tutorial video of how to make “pancake cereal” where a voice describes each step as a hand is shown piping regular pancake batter onto a pan as tiny dots, carefully flipping them, and dumping the miniature golden pancakes into a bowl. There the mound is topped with butter, syrup, and a generous pour of milk. It’s not a crazy stretch of the imagination to classify mini pancakes a cereal, but the addition of the syrup and butter is what brought this dish over the edge and appealed to viewers to try it themselves and film their reactions.
In just a month, the hashtag #pancakecereal had over a billion views on Tik Tok, as reported by Thrillist. Other sweet, tiny-baked-goods-in-milk iterations spawned from the original pancake cereal, including cookies, frosted donuts, and even mini croissants, and, of course, there are also many parody videos dousing bowls of food definitely not made to be cereal, like sushi rolls and pizza bagels, with milk.
Mac and Cheese Burger Bun
Those who argue a hamburger is nothing without being topped by cheese are at the forefront of the cheese-forward macaroni and cheese burger … bun. These are the same people who will argue that the bun is the most boring part of the burger, which as we’ve seen in past trends of replacing the bun with ramen, fried chicken, and glazed donuts, seems true. This new addition brings more cheese and fun to the bun than ever before.
To make, thick discs of packed macaroni and cheese are breaded then deep fried to create a base with more integrity than a typical bowl of mac and cheese to support the weight of a patty. Other recipes call for pan-frying to make the classic oven-baked hard layer of cheese. The crunchy exterior encases a soft, gooey inside of cooked pasta and cheese that oozes out and drapes satisfyingly over the burger underneath with each press and bite.
It’s hard to imagine improving on the classic ice cream sandwich, but over the years, innovations are popping up to take on the iconic treat, from replacing the outside layer with everything from chocolate chip cookies to watermelon. However, it’s hard to deny that pairing churros with ice cream is the most genius move of all. Churro Borough in Los Angeles, CA is credited with the first churro ice cream sandwich where they replaced the cookie with warm, fried thin discs of churros enveloping a hunk of vanilla ice cream inside. The trend took off and were eventually even being sold at Disney World. Between the warm crispy sugar and cinnamon coated outside and the thick layer of ice cream inside, this is a multi-napkin dessert, for sure.
Every culture seems to have their take on delicious stuffed dough pockets of food, like dumplings, samosas, pierogi, ravioli. Because of this, it’s easy to play with flavor and expand on the idea of what should be inside a dumpling or how they should look. This trend includes combining flavors from different parts of the world, like enchilada dumplings and French onion soup, a play-off of traditional xiaolongbao soup dumplings. There was even a burger-dumpling hybrid created by Chinese Club in Brooklyn, NY, called the Momo Burger, which featured chicken meatball-stuffed dumplings topped with mayo, lettuce, and cheese sandwiched between burger buns.
New Age Candied Popcorn
Another Tik Tok hybrid food trend that’s been gaining speed is combining candy with popcorn. A video first uploaded in February shows step-by-step how to melt chewy fruit candy mixed with corn syrup and butter, then pour and mix over normal microwave popcorn to create a colorful bowl of candied popcorn. The snack follows the years-long trend of combining sweet and salty while the bright colors and easy DIY nature appeal to the younger generation of consumers hyper focused on making their food look more fun and Instagram (or Tik Tok) worthy. If it sticks, this super sweet coating could quickly replace the longstanding champion of sweet popcorn coating: caramel.
Fun, trending food hybrids are not only reserved for extreme sweets on Tik Tok; produce also has some innovations bringing new combinations of flavors to menus in different ways. Kale is still huge in the wellness scene and its popularity has stemmed popular hybrids with veggies like rabe and Brussel sprouts to create “brusselkale” or kalette. Celtuce is a Chinese vegetable that combines the flavors of lettuce with others akin to asparagus or celery that grows with a thick stem like a broccoli’s stalk and used in dishes to give texture and crunch. There’s also the mesmerizing Broccoflower broccoli-cauliflower hybrid that has taken every Instagram foodie account by storm with its unique light green spirals, and komatsuna described as a mustard-spinach hybrid popularly used in Japanese cuisine.
This article has been updated from 5/15/2018.