The 1980s were a decade of culinary innovation and experimentation, from fast food chains and convenience foods to exotic cuisine. But have you ever wondered what the 80s’ fads in eating were like and how they affected modern cooking? In this blog post, we’ll look back fondly on some of the most well-liked food fads from the 1980s and examine how they influenced current eating habits.
We’ll explore the tastes, ingredients, and innovations that define the food industry, from fast food chains and convenience foods to the emergence of gourmet cuisine and the popularity of TV chefs. We’ll learn how these fads still impact modern food culture as we reflect on the foods from our youth. So, whether you’re a foodie, a kid who misses the 1980s, or just interested in the time period, this post will surely transport you on a delicious trip down memory lane.
Popular Food Trends of the 80s
The 1980s was a decade of rapid change and innovation in the food industry, with new trends and fads constantly emerging.
Here are some of the most popular food trends from the 80s that defined the era:
- The growing popularity of convenience foods and fast food chains: Fast food chains like McDonald’s, Burger King, and Wendy’s experienced rapid growth in the 1980s and rose to national prominence. Convenience food consumption increased along with the fast food boom, with frozen and microwaveable dinners becoming increasingly common. People’s busy lifestyles and the need for quick and straightforward meals were the driving forces behind this trend.
- Exotic cuisine, such as Chinese and Mexican food: The 80s also saw a notable rise in the popularity of exotic cuisines. These eateries started to spring up all over the country and became increasingly prevalent in strip malls and shopping centers. People began to discover and enjoy new flavors and cuisines from around the world due to increased international travel and shifting cultural influences.
- The popularity of “nouvelle cuisine” and upscale cuisine: The 1980s saw the emergence of the gourmet cuisine trend, characterized by inventive presentations, exotic ingredients, and an emphasis on flavor and texture. During this time, the phrase “nouvelle cuisine”—a more refined and delicate cooking style—became well-known. The trendsetters behind this movement were the popularity of upscale eateries and celebrity chefs, who introduced the public to innovative flavors and cooking methods.
The impact of television chefs like Emeril Lagasse and Julia Child TV chefs became more popular during the 1980s, bringing cooking into the living rooms of millions of people. The most well-known cooking programs at the time were “The French Chef” with Julia Child and “Emeril Live” with Emeril Lagasse, and both had a significant influence on how people viewed food and cooking. They opened up cooking and gourmet food to a larger audience, encouraging many people to experiment with new flavors and methods in their kitchens. The 1980s saw the emergence of health-conscious consumers and an increased understanding of the advantages of natural and organic foods. As people became more aware of the risks associated with processed foods and artificial ingredients, the trend toward eating organic and healthy food started to catch on.
The 1980s were also a decade of legendary snacks, including Dunkaroos, Tang, Jolt cola, Pop Rocks, and many more. People liked soft drinks like Sprite and Coca-Cola with their fast food, and they were also quite popular. Chihuahua, a popular menu item at Taco Bell, was a Mexican-style sandwich that became widely recognizable through its advertising campaign featuring a Chihuahua dog. These foods were widely popular during the 80s and considered the best representation of 80s fast food.
Many other food trends in the 80s were specific to the era, such as the rise of brunch culture, fondue parties, and more. Brunch became a popular weekend meal, with many restaurants and cafes offering brunch menus. Fondue parties were also popular, with people gathering together to dip different items into melted cheese or chocolate. These are just a few examples of food trends that defined the 80s. Each trend provides a glimpse into the cultural, social, and economic forces that shaped the decade and continue to influence how we eat today.
Impact of the 80s food trends
As we’ve seen, the 1980s was a decade of rapid change and innovation in the food industry. These trends and fads not only defined the era but continue to shape the way we eat today.
Let’s take a look at how the food trends of the 80s have influenced modern-day food culture:
- The continued popularity of fast food chains and convenience food: The fast food boom of the 80s has had a lasting impact on the way we eat today. Fast food chains continue to be popular, with many of them expanding their menus to include healthier options and customizations. Convenience food also remains popular, with many relying on frozen meals and microwavable dinners for quick and easy meals.
- The increasing diversity of cuisine and flavors: The 80s saw a significant increase in the popularity of exotic cuisines, such as Chinese and Mexican food, which continue to be popular today. The decade also saw a rise in the popularity of sushi, Thai food, and other Asian cuisines. The increasing diversity of cuisine and flavors has contributed to a more multicultural food culture, with more people willing to try new and exciting dishes from around the world.
- The emphasis on gourmet and high-end food: The 80s also saw the emergence of gourmet cuisine and nouvelle cuisine. This emphasis on high-end, creative and delicious food has continued to influence food culture today. Many restaurants and chefs continue to push the boundaries with unique and experimental dishes, using high-quality ingredients and focusing on presentation and flavor. Also, the popularity of fine-dining experiences, food festivals, and food-based TV shows like MasterChef and Top Chef are examples of how gourmet food culture is still going strong.
- The popularity of TV chefs and cooking shows: The 80s saw the rise of TV chefs, who brought cooking into the living rooms of millions of people. This trend has continued today, with many popular cooking shows and cooking channels available on television and online. This has led to an increased interest in cooking, and many people have started experimenting with new ingredients and recipes in their kitchens.
- The ongoing debate over healthy vs. unhealthy food: The rise of organic and healthy food in the 80s has continued to influence how we eat today. With more people becoming health-conscious, the demand for fresh and organic food has increased. However, the debate over healthy vs. unhealthy food has also become more complex. On the one hand, the trend has led to an increased awareness of the benefits of organic and natural foods, and on the other hand, it has led to a rise in fad diets and extreme food restrictions.
- Any other ways the 80s food trends continue to influence us today: The 80s food trends have influenced other aspects of our modern food culture. The trend of brunch culture popularized in the 80s is still strong today. Similarly, the popularity of street food and food trucks, which began to emerge in the 80s, continues to grow today. The era
The food industry underwent rapid change and innovation in the 1980s, with new fads and trends appearing regularly. The 1980s were a decade of culinary innovation and experimentation, from fast food restaurants and convenience foods to exotic cuisine and gourmet food. We’ve looked at some of the most well-liked food fads from the 1980s and how they affected modern eating habits.
As we reminisce about the foods of our past, we can’t forget some of the most memorable foods of the 80s that still resonate with people today. Examples of how the 80s food trends still impact us today include the boom in fast food, the emergence of gourmet cuisine, and the rise of health-conscious consumers. Furthermore, the popularity of exotic cuisine and the influence of TV chefs like Julia Child and Emeril Lagasse have helped to bring new and exciting flavors to the mainstream.