Bright rainbow food was extremely popular for a while, but eventually, it faded from relevancy. For the next fad, trendsetters decided to go in the opposite direction: black food. To achieve that deep shade, people added activated charcoal to everything from bread to ice cream to water.
Image from Food Business News
Activated charcoal might sound familiar, and that's probably because it was recently a hot trend in the beauty community. Charcoal peel-off masks and facial scrubs became popular after videos of people using black masks to rip out blackheads went viral. This made people wonder if an ingredient used for clearing complexions is safe to eat.
Activated charcoal comes from burning organic materials and processing it at a high temperature to give it the qualities unique to this type of charcoal. Unlike the charcoal we use for our barbecue grills, activated charcoal comes in the form of a fine powder. Technically, it is edible, but eating it can cause some issues.
Image from Flare
Activated charcoal can be used to treat poisonings and overdoses, and these properties can make your prescriptions stop working. It can also prevent your body from absorbing certain over the counter pain medications. Consuming the small amount of activated charcoal used to dye your fun-looking black burger bun probably isn't enough to cause issues, but overcommitting to the trend would. If you're taking any prescription medications, I wouldn't recommend chugging charcoal water every day.
If eating activated charcoal can potentially have negative effect on most of the population, why would anyone want to eat it? Since activated charcoal isn't dangerous in and of itself, it's considered okay to consume. Similarly, grapefruit is known to negatively interact with many common medications, but patients are warned about this when they receive their new prescription. Activated charcoal is such a new trend that many people have not heard about the harm it could do.
Even without knowing about the potential negatives of eating activated charcoal, it still seems like a really weird to choose to eat. Black food looks cool, which is enough to attract people to it. Additionally, some people believe that activated charcoal has positive health benefits, but these claims are murky. Even with the uncertainty around activated charcoal, this trend doesn't look like it's going away any time soon.
Ever since the rise of Instagram, food bloggers and restaurants alike have been trying to come up with the next viral food sensation. One of the most recent trendy foods to hit our feeds is glitter food.
This past spring, Dagwood Pizza in Santa Monica California gained national attention for its "Magical AF" glitter pizza.
Image from Nerdist
People aren't just eating glitter; they're also drinking it. About one year before glitter pizza became a thing, Coffee By Di Bella made headlines for selling glittery coffee at its Mumbai, India locations. The "Diamond" and "Gold" cappuccinos come topped with silver and gold holographic glitter, respectively.
Image from Today
If you think that the glitter you see on food pictures looks like crafting glitter, that's probably because it basically is. While sugar can be used to make colorful and shiny sprinkles, it doesn't give the same effect as actual glitter, holographic or otherwise. Real glitter is made from small pieces of plastic.
According to the Food Network, some glitter products that are marketed for food use are considered nontoxic, but the FDA does not classify them as edible. Nontoxic glitter entered the food scene for cake decorating purposes, but was not intended to actually be consumed. Despite this, nontoxic glitter use on food gained popularity.
Image from Pink the Town
Even though viral foods tend to contain nontoxic glitter rather than the edible kind, the companies call the glitter edible on their menus and on social media. Because of this, it can be hard to distinguish what you're supposed to eat from what you can, but probably shouldn't.
Nontoxic substances aren't harmful, but they still aren't edible. For context, crafting products commonly used by children, like paint, glue and markers, are also nontoxic. Making materials nontoxic is more of a safety precaution than anything else. Unfortunately, real edible glitter doesn't usually go viral like the fake stuff does.
Sugar sprinkles do add a nice pop of color and shine to food, but they certainly don't pack the same punch as real glitter, especially the holographic kind. Would you ever consider eating pizza covered with glitter? I think I'd rather stick with plain cheese.