Soda pop made headlines this year as an antagonist of healthy living, while consumers and brands couldn't get enough of a certain dairy product, described as the ‘food of the decade.’ A look back at some of the biggest food stories and trends that shaped what we ate in 2012.
Soda pop vilified
Soda got a bad rap this year, particularly from New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, whose proposal to impose a limited ban on super-sized pop was implemented this year and got the whole city -- and country -- talking. The bylaw restricts soda servings to a maximum of 16 ounces -- about half the size of the biggest, bucket-like containers offered at cinemas and sporting arenas. The move sparked a raging debate about the role of government in citizen's private lives. Expect the soda ban to be a precedent-setting case that could be mimicked in other municipalities.
Market research group NPD calls it the food of the decade for its exponential growth over the last 10 years in the US: consumption has doubled there, with one in three people eating yogurt regularly. In New York, artisanal yogurt bars and boutiques where consumers can build their own parfaits and smoothies have also been trending, with the opening of shops like The Yogurt Culture Company and Chobani SoHo.
What do we mean by retro desserts? Think candy corn, the tri-colored bite-sized kernel that inspired Nabisco to create orange- and cream-colored Oreo cookies, and M&M's to do the same with its candy-coated chocolates this Halloween. In Yahoo!'s list of top search terms of 2012, candy corn Oreos also topped the category for "The Most Appetizing Yet Stomach-Turning Searches on Yahoo! in 2012." Meanwhile, news that the iconic American sponge cake, the Twinkie, was on the verge of extinction due to labor strife within the Hostess company likewise ignited a newfound appreciation for the 82-year-old snack food.
Turmeric isn’t just for curry anymore. Bold mixologists and chocolatiers have been experimenting with the punchy flavors of Indian spices by adding them to savory cocktails and spicing up premium, luxury chocolates. There are a few reasons for this. The first is that India has become the world’s fastest growing market for chocolate in the world, with sales nearly doubling in the span of three short years, from $418 million in 2008 to $857 million in 2011, according to market research group Mintel. The result? Chocolates spiked with the familiar and heady aromas of their native cuisines. Likewise, in the ongoing trend for savory cocktails, mixologists are also kicking things up a notch from the usual herbaceous notes of basil and mint and reaching for spices like garam masala and cardamom to flavor their drinks.
Low-alcohol wines, low-calorie spirits
Demand for low-alcohol wines has seen growth within the industry, due predominantly to health reasons and cheaper price points. Low-calorie alcohol, marketed specifically for the lady drinker, has also experienced growing popularity. The leader in this domain is undisputedly Skinnygirl Cocktails, created by US reality TV star Bethenny Frankel of Real Housewives of New York City fame.