In recent years the phrase ‘sharing your food’ has taken on different connotations, as snapping a cheeky top-down photo during dinner to tempt your followers with has become a social norm. Throughout 2016 we’ve witnessed various edible offerings take off due to social media, with it seemingly becoming the new incubator for food trends.
From Rainbow Bagels to Cronuts, Ice Cream Clouds to Freakshakes, the Insta-community has double-tapped its way through multiple courses of visually-led, quirky serving suggestions designed to capture the attention of online users. Restaurants and cafés such as The Bagel Store, Dominique Ansell Bakery (whose London branch opened at the end of September) and Molly Bakes have seen almost too much success as trends have taken off, demand escalated, and queues formed outside their doors.
Although some of these special serving suggestions may seem like gimmicks, this trend-led approach to consumption is forecast to continue. The recent Waitrose food report, predicting new trends for the coming year, highlights consumers’ obsession with creating photogenic dishes. It also cites the fact that over 130K food photos are shared on Instagram every day in the UK, and that a third of those aged 18-34 post pictures of their meals to social media.
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The aspirational nature of social media, especially Instagram with its filtered highlights, combined with the rise in influencer culture, has made social channels a breeding ground for foodie trends. Compound this with the high value that millennials place on experiences, and it’s little wonder that discovering and sharing the latest snap-before-you-snack treat has become an online experience.
As a result, a noticeable shift has taken place, where rather than the media telling the public what The Next Big thing to eat is, we have social media leading the way, with publications such as TimeOut and Metro picking up on crazes thanks to proliferation of social posts about new edible creations.
Trying to make it to Brick Lane on time to see my cousins Partly because I miss them lots and partly because @thecanvascafee1’s freakshakes are calling my name It’s been so long!! This was the berry & apricot one It’s on Hanbury Street, not everything is vegan but these shakes are ☺️ Just waiting for the flooring in my studio to be fitted and then hopefully heading off! #vegansofldn
Of course, the negative connotations resulting from this change have been picked up by some. In a recent article discussing how Instagram is changing the way we eat, the opening words from Ruby Tandoh were, ‘I often post pictures of my food online before I have tasted it…Sometimes, when I go on to eat the food in front of me, I don’t even like it.’ And you’ve only to scroll down to the comments section for a demonstration of the fury that food-photographing culture has instilled in some.
Whether you’re supportive of this shift in food popularisation or not, it can’t be ignored. Following the Waitrose report findings, MD Rob Collins highlighted that posting pictures of dinners online means that meals have become a form of self-expression; as such when developing a new food product or planning a pop-up event we should not only be asking, ‘how good does this taste’, but also, ‘how shareable is this’.
Words: Sasha Parkes