If there's one thing that ties together how we've been eating and drinking over the last 10 years, it's that we're hungry. Starting in 2010, we saw a rise in aspirational home cooking and an ever-expanding collective palate. There's been a stronger interest in wellness, leading to more plant-based eating as well as more people going Whole30, gluten free, or keto. While healthy eating was certainly gaining fans, that didn't stop us from indulging every now and again and pushing the boundaries with culinary mash-ups and unicorn everything. While it was hard to pick just 10, here's what we consider to be the most iconic foods of the past decade.
This gluten-bomb of a pastry—which marries the yeastiness of a doughnut with the flakiness of a croissant—created lines around the block of Dominique Ansel’s flagship bakery in New York City. For years. The Frankenstein-esque creation became so popular, it led the bakery to create online pre-ordering for each new monthly flavor. The humble Cronut gets extra accolades for the fact that it paved the way for many other hybrid-baked goods to bust onto the scene this decade—I’m looking at you, adorable little Cruffin.
Australians have been loving on this open-faced sandwich for years, but it wasn’t until the 2010s that this breakfast staple became all the rage stateside. The dish became so iconic—particularly amongst the millennial brunch-going crowd—that it even inspired its own merch (think shirts, socks, and phone cases emblazoned with the fruit). Topped with an egg or eaten simply with a squeeze of lemon and flaky salt, it is—all hype aside—actually delicious. And like it or not, it’s here to stay.
The word poke (that’s po-kay) means “chunk” in Hawaiian, but since “chunk bowl” doesn’t have quite the same ring to it, the ones that migrated to the mainland this decade stayed true to the dish’s origins—at least in name. The OG poke from Hawaii is simply chunks of raw ahi tuna marinated with scallions in sesame oil and soy sauce. But this decade saw the proliferation of build-your-own poke bowl restaurants featuring base ingredients such as salmon and vegan tofu with toppings like seaweed salad, avocado, and cucumber.
Unicorn and Funfetti Everything
From cakes to cupcakes, cakepops to macarons, the majestic unicorn was the baker’s muse this decade. The hashtag #UnicornCake has over 900,000 posts on Instagram. And once Starbucks caught on with their special edition Unicorn Frappuccino, we knew this trend had gone from cutting edge to mainstream.
Since unicorns and rainbows seem to go hand-in-hand (at least that’s what every Lisa Frank binder from the 90s would suggest), it’s no surprise that rainbow themed-everything also began showing up everywhere. Suddenly, we were being forced to choose between Unicorn hot chocolate or rainbow cake, a choice no sugar addict should ever have to make.
Fried Chicken Sandwich
The humble, crunchy fried chicken sandwich finally got the attention it deserved this decade. From fast-food restaurants like Popeye’s to the burger-joint Shake Shack (which, arguably, had no business making a fried chicken sandwich, but did a bang-up job nonetheless), everyone was jumping on the fried chicken sandwich bandwagon. Even high-end restaurants got in the game, turning out high-brow variations featuring homemade buns, Asian slaws, or fancy remoulades. Viva la fried chicken sammie!
Everything Bagel Seasoning
Everything bagels have been a staple in the New York breakfast repertoire for decades, but this magical blend of sesame and poppy seeds, along with garlic, onion, and flaky salt, is a delicious confetti of umami that belongs on plenty more than a bagel. Eggs, potatoes, nuts, vegetables, and salmon—if you can eat it, it can be seasoned—and why not with something more interesting than plain salt and pepper? This decade resulted in many ways to make your own Everything blend from scratch as well as pre-combined shakers of the good stuff in stores like Trader Joe’s.
Not to be confused with macaroons (with an extra “o” and loads of coconut flakes), the macaron is a delicate, almond meringue cookie filled with buttercream and found in a kaleidoscope of colors. The French treat is epically finicky to make, but whether you tried your hand at a recipe or let the professionals do the work and bought a colorful box from a bakery like Ladurée, the macaron is a little work of art and incredibly tasty. And yes, even unicorn macarons became a thing—because a mash-up of trends is inevitable and that much more Instagramable.
Kale salads, kale smoothies, kale chips. Over the last 10 years, it’s as if we all woke up from a horrible dream and finally recognized that kale was worth more than a limp, wilted patch of garnish on a dinner plate. Suddenly, the humble spinach and romaine were dead to us (the rounds of romaine lettuce recalls certainly didn’t help its cause). And thankfully, kale was ready to take the lead, even in the classic Caesar salad.
The sturdy kale leaf also brought with it recipes that called for “massaging” your greens—a good reminder that a spa day every now and again is important for everyone. While kale was the it-leafy-green of the 2010s, the 2020s are likely to result in new additions to the salad bowl. Beet greens, anyone?
As some of us were shoveling unicorn cupcakes and Cronuts in our faces this decade, there was also plenty of mindful, healthy eating happening, too. Bone broth was one of those. It’s a celebration of slow and no-waste cooking and also touted as rich with vitamins, nutrients, and collagen. While bone broth is nothing new, the trend turned it from a soup base into an everyday sipper. Shops like Brodo in New York City even sell steaming cups of this liquid gold for on-the-go consumption.
Gluten-free diets, along with the Keto diet, were gaining momentum in the early 2010s and by the end of the decade, both still remain some of the most searched-for terms in recipes. Enter the cauliflower. This humble cruciferous veg was used to create a gnocchi-ish substitute. One which probably wasn’t winning friends with any traditionalist Italian Grandma, but was certainly bringing more to the plate of those watching their gluten or carb intake.