Five Food Trends That Have Jumped The Shark

Sometimes food trends have just gone too far.  They’ve jumped the shark.

If that reference escapes you, then maybe you’re not a fan of Happy Days (or you’re simply too young).  The term “jumped the shark” goes back to a 1977 episode of this popular TV show2312730966_21acc3f82d when a leather jacket-clad Fonzie was water skiing and literally jumped over a shark in the water.  

That was a watershed moment, if you will.  At that point on, the show went downhill and was eventually cancelled.

You can see for yourself:

Jumping the shark even has its own Wikipedia definition to describe a point in time that marks a decline in quality that is beyond recovery. Jon Hein, creator of the now defunct website jumptheshark.com explains the concept:


“It’s a moment. A defining moment when you know that your favorite television program has reached its peak. That instant that you know from now on…it’s all downhill. Some call it the climax. We call it ‘Jumping the Shark.’ From that moment on, the program will simply never be the same.”

So as a lover of pop culture, I’m fascinated at how this TV reference has come to mean anything that just goes too far.  I think some food trends have had their “jumped the shark” moments.  Maybe it started out with good intentions, but things got carried away.  The hype just took over. These are the five trends that remind me of Fonzie.

1. Bacon

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Don’t get me wrong, I love bacon.  But does everything need to contain bacon?  And must it be candied, covered in chocolate, in our drinks, our snacks, chapstick and even baby formula (OK, that part was hoax).  One recent survey identified bacon as the #1 food trend that people wanted to see less.   I agree.

2. Agave Nectar

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Agave nectar is riding high as a natural sweetener, embraced by vegans and lovers of raw food.  It’s sugar.  In fact, agave nectar is not too different from high fructose corn syrup (although it contains even more fructose).  Yes, it comes from the agave plant, but it’s still a refined sugar.  Enjoy it in moderation, but don’t let the health halo blind you.

3. Chia Seeds

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I like seeds, and chia seeds are just fine — but they’re not a miracle food. (See previous post) I  don’t think you need chia seed supplements or go out of your way to incorporate spoonfuls in everything you eat.  Yes, chia seeds contain omega-3s, but only about as much as a bite of salmon.  Go ahead and enjoy chia seeds (along with flaxseed, sesame and other seeds), just don’t let them distract you from eating more seafood or incorporating more fruits, vegetables and whole grains into your diet.

4. Antioxidants

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To me, the antioxidant trend has gone too far with the fortification of artificial sugar.  New Splenda Essentials are fortified with 20% of Daily Value of vitamin C and E “like those found in fruits and vegetables.”  Splenda will never be like fruits and vegetables.  Why even try?
5. Acai

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This nice little purple berry from South America just went too far almost from the beginning.  You could never even find this fresh fruit anywhere.  It was typically the pulp in juices, sweetened teas and other foods — then supplements.  And then the claims got carried away really quickly.   How did this all even happen?

What trends do you think have jumped the shark?

[photo credits on flickr.com: agave nectar from Elana’s Pantry, Chia from jerushy44]

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