Why We're Crazy for Cupcakes but Fed Up with Fondue
Tastemaker, n. Anyone with the power to make you eat quinoa.
Kale. Spicy sriracha sauce. Honeycrisp apples. Cupcakes. These days, it seems we are constantly discovering a new food that will make us healthier, happier, or even somehow cooler. Chia seeds, after a brief life as a novelty houseplant and I Love the ’80s punchline, are suddenly a superfood. Not long ago, that same distinction was held by pomegranate seeds, açai berries, and the fermented drink known as kombucha. So what happened? Did these foods suddenly cease to be healthy a few years ago? And by the way, what exactly is a “superfood” again?
In this eye-opening, witty work of reportage, David Sax uncovers the world of food trends: Where they come from, how they grow, and where they end up. Traveling from the South Carolina rice plot of America’s premier grain guru to Chicago’s gluttonous Baconfest, Sax reveals a world of influence, money, and activism that helps decide what goes on your plate. On his journey, he meets entrepreneurs, chefs, and even data analysts who have made food trends a mission and a business. The Tastemakers is full of entertaining stories and surprising truths about what we eat, how we eat it, and why.
“Sax declares, food trends, though sometimes annoying, deepen and expand our cultural palate, spur economic growth, provide broad variety in our diets, and promote happiness.”
“David Sax has written a fascinating and surprising story of why we eat what we eat. It’s a tale of overhyped chia seeds, rebranded fish, and unseen influencers. I will never again look at a grocery store aisle or my restaurant entree the same way.”
—A.J. Jacobs, New York Times bestselling author of The Year of Living Biblically and Drop Dead Healthy
“With forensic specificity, and, better still, a terrific sense of fun, David Sax explains precisely how foods du jour such as cupcakes, Greek yogurt, and Korean tacos ‘happened.’ The trends may seem silly, but The Tastemakers is not. Sax has given this gastro-exuberant time the whizzy, full-gallop treatment it deserves.”
—David Kamp, bestselling author of The United States of Arugula
“They say there’s no accounting for taste, but David Sax makes sense of the mysterious forces that shape our personal food preferences, through stories so absorbing and witty that I wasn’t even sorry to discover that my taste buds are hardly my own. I devoured The Tastemakers like an oat bran muffin in 1989—or a chia-seed muffin today.”
—Karen Leibowitz, author of Mission Street Food: Recipes and Ideas from an Improbable Restaurant