Near Boston, the famous Momofoku opened a new store on Harvard Square, featuring its famous birthday cake, crack pie, and milk and cereal ice cream. Just this past weekend, Taiyaki NYC also opened a store in Seaport, Boston, that generated a line that wrapped around half the building on opening day. Both of these stores feature cute, quirky delicacy foods that are fun and looks good.
But do they taste good? Truth is, what draws people into these new, up-and-coming restaurants doesn’t necessarily have to do with the number of Michelin stars they have, or the value of the meal. While high and prolific ratings are important to the experience of a meal, what is also exciting is something that is new, forward, and trendy. These qualities attract the masses and generate interest fast. Although famous restaurants created their fame through continuous impressive performance, new trendy, ‘foodie’ restaurants get their fame through viral marketing tactics – often with free social media marketing with Instagram posts, shares on Facebook, and word of mouth in general. I'm definitely guilty of falling for social media posts. The cooler it is, the more reeled in I get. Despite whether the quality of food is good or not, I am intrigued regardless. I’ve realized that there three main reasons why I get drawn in by these new foodie places:
- It's something new!
Like many things in the 21st century, there is nothing more fascinating than new or reinvented things. Dominique Ansel realized this in 2013 when he fused a croissant and a donut together, which became what is now coined a ‘cronut’, which also created lines that would last for hours just to get one in his bakery in New York City.
Although now cronuts are available in bakeries all over, the original cronut made the news because of how original and new the idea was. It’s an incredibly sweet croissant filled with puff pastry and creme, creating a dessert and breakfast crossover. Over time, the fad of the cronut died down. Not many people would not rave about wanting to get one, and it is because it has become a part of the American menu and many other foods have become invented and trendy overtime to bury the cronut in history.
- The food looks cute!
Sometimes what catches the eye is that little something extra. Take the FreakShake, for example. An Australian cafe for Patissez took the American classic of the milkshake and decided it wasn’t enough. So they added whipped cream, cakes, donuts, cookies, etc., and overloaded a milkshake until it wasn’t just a milkshake anymore. It became a colorful, exciting, and unique mess that people couldn’t help but take a picture of and share on social media.
Soon enough, the FreakShake phenomenon caught on. Other restaurants were starting to catch on and created their own versions of the FreakShake. Boston Burger Co. created a line of shakes topped with cheesecakes to bacon. BlackTap in New York City started creating milkshakes that were themed to unicorns or Easter as well.
- There’s an aesthetic!
Undeniably, a huge reason why foods can become so trendy is that they photograph well. Freakshakes and cronuts are both photogenic foods. They look good on camera, and they don’t taste bad either. Thus, people posting on social media can highly encourage someone to go. Something that really draws a crowd is the ability to have a unique and photogenic selling point.
Mrs. Holmes’ Bakehouse is a bakery chain that has a store in San Francisco. Their storefront is small—probably enough to fit about 10 customers comfortably and a display of various croissants and cookies and other pastries. Though the foods are undeniably good, what is often caught on Instagram when you search for the bakery is a neon sign on the back wall.
This isn’t rare. Many restaurants and cafes try to hold an aesthetic atmosphere just to ensure that customers are comfortable and want to stay for the food. However, having something unique like a neon sign or a photobooth wall allows places to give customers a reason to share their place online.
Overhyped foods aren't a bad thing in this world. I personally love going to check out new foods that I find on social media or Yelp, whether the food is overhyped or not. Sometimes, however, ‘foodie’ places don’t last long. Once the hype dies down, another will take its place. This allows a constant food adventure for anyone who is interested.