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ohio express If food is the new rock, that is, if food is the cultural phenomenon of this decade that defines what is worth paying attention to just as rock music was to the generation that came of age in the 60’s, then we can expect our share of “bubblegum pop” food—manufactured silliness conjured by the food industry to siphon dollars from the unhip.

So what food trends are the aesthetic equivalent of the Ohio Express or the 1910 Fruitgum Company? Larry Olmstead, writing for Forbes, lists “America’s 8 Worst Food Trends”, all of which qualify as the kind of accessible contrivance likely to pass into oblivion. His list includes:

  • “Gourmet” Food trucks—There is nothing special about food cooked in a truck. They take business away from real restaurants.
  • Micro-distilleries—Quality spirits require aging, which small distilleries cannot afford.
  • House-cured meats—why expect a restaurant to be an expert at the process of curing food?
  • Kobe Beef—the real stuff from Japan is unavailable. The name “Kobe” is meaningless.
  • Made in Brooklyn or fill-in-the-blank—trucking in ingredients to be assembled locally is phony locavorism.
  • Gastro pubs that aren’t—waiters, menus, and fancy food have nothing to do with real gastropubs.
  • Most TV Cooking Competitions—There is nothing interesting about chefs performing tasks that have nothing to do with the job of a professional chef.
  • Far-flung Celebrity Restaurants—Most chefs lack the managements skills to guarantee quality at diverse locations.

There are exceptions, but as generalizations it is hard to disagree with any of this. Most cultural trends are mere novelty without substance, and in a few years we are likely to view the items on Olmstead’s list with a disdain now reserved for paisley shirts and bell-bottoms.

Although I have long had a secret admiration for Tommy James and the Shondells.