What’s the newest food trend we see painted down our timelines and thrust into our arteries?
Sweet, ooey-gooey, processed sugar built in creative ways to be served on a silver platter and ingested ad infinitum by our sugar-whipped taste buds.
You know what I’m talking about, how every new restaurant or food stand seems to be selling a slab of ice cream sandwiched between two 2 pound warm cookie dough balls dipped in chocolate and covered in cotton candy. (The sad thing is I’m trying to be dramatic and I’m not that far off from what is genuinely available).
Now I am an OG sugar junkie through and through. I have put 17 sugars in a large coffee, eaten candy for breakfast in the summer, and as a child mixed sugar into my water when there was no juice in the house for the rush (you think I’m kidding. I’m not). However, in my old age I’ve come to realize the beauty I find in sugar, beyond the inherent energy rush. Sugar is complex; sweetness need not meet your tastebuds the same way twice, and there is a delicate balance to sweet and savory, bitter and sour. My issue with this trend is that it eradicates all of this. These treats are cloyingly sweet with no complexities to their flavor. They are literally sugars, layered over themselves, in an endless loop.
For instance, that Starbucks Unicorn Frappucino (though claiming to be Blue Raspberry flavored aka sour sugar) contained 59g of sugar, primarily from the mixing of different flavored syrups (flavored syrups are already sugared x2 because syrup is sugar and water and the flavorings often contain sweetened add-ins. Read: blue raspberry is not a naturally occurring flavor so in order to achieve it sugar and blue #4 are mixed with sour flavors and raspberries and then thrown in the syrup). So not only is it already a quasi-milkshake, it is then injected with syrups and dusted with “fairy powder” (finishing sugar). While I would like to say this was a one-off leap into the sugar void, it seems as though Starbucks set the industry standard for Unicorn themed items and bakeries across the US. Freakshakes, unicorn burritos, and ice cream sandwiches now abound with different forms of sugar all layered together with very few complexities in flavor. Forget dipping your ice cream cone in chocolate, now you can dip it in marshmallow fluff, roll it in cotton candy, and drizzle it with colored caramel. The reaches of this new sugar trend are long enough to even grab the home chef. I know you’ve seen those videos encouraging you to take a Reese’s cup, sandwich it in an oreo, wrap that whole thing in cookie dough, take multiples of that concoction and layer them on a baking pan, fill the baking pan with brownie batter, bake it, then torch marshmallows on top. My heart literally aches at the thought.
There are wonderful new pop-ups creating new flavor profiles in sugar while not being consumed by it. So hope remains alive. I will simply suggest that you, like them, diversify your sugars.
Be good, and eat complexly.