There are the fleeting "food trends" we all know, like the cronut or the never-ending onslaught of so-called superfoods, and then there are the measurable trends of what people are actually eating—not just what's being talked about.
Look no further than the heaps of avocados and colored lattes on Instagram to confirm the former. But if you want to understand the latter and get a sense of what people eat when no one is looking, you need to crunch a lot of numbers.
Thanks to online and mobile food delivery juggernaut Grubhub, we can get a glimpse of what users eat when they are too tired to cook, too hungover to get out of bed, or any other situation which would warrant ordering food from your phone or computer. Drawing on data from their network of 55,000 takeout restaurants in over 1,100 US cities and London, Grubhub compiled some hard data about what people ordered—and ate—between January 1 and June 30 of this year.
Probably the most staggering trend they discovered was a 365 percent increase in poke bowl orders. While this is a big number, it should hardly come to a surprise to anyone who has been closely watching poke's trajectory from Hawaiian getaway food to mainland staple. And anyone with a social media account also won't be shocked to find that avocado toast orders are up by 93 percent as well. Yes, people are now too lazy to cut open an avocado and spread it on bread—or to walk to the corner café to have someone else do it for them.
Bowls in general (the most popular being a "steak guacamole bowl") are 32 percent more popular since the beginning of 2017, and vegan dishes are up 19 percent.
But it's not all big bowls and healthy (or pretend-healthy) stuff that Grubhub users are ordering. Bite-sized snacks like mini corn dogs (which, oddly enough, saw a 76 percent increase in orders), mac and cheese bites (a 78 percent increase), and pretzel bites (a whopping 238 percent increase) made up a big chunk of overall orders. The same was true for bigger formats of high-calorie offerings like chicken wings and chicken-fried steak, which also saw huge leaps in popularity. Here we are, in 2017, ordering chicken-fried steak to be delivered to our dismal apartments so that we don't have to tear ourselves from our semi-catatonic state of binge-watching. What a time to be alive.
Arguably the most interesting information compiled Grubhub is a breakdown of orders by time of year. In the dark, sad winter months of January and February, orders for foods like penne rosa (orders for which were up 385 percent) and fried chicken sandwiches skyrocketed compared to the rest of the year. But of course, penne with creamy tomato sauce is a very reliable seasonal affective disorder antidote. Conversely, in the summer, poke bowls and roasted Brussel sprouts pop back into our psyches and see huge surges in popularity.
With food delivery ever more popular, these numbers could provide a look into the future and help spot future food trends more reliably than the social media pics from that recent pop-up in your neighborhood.
"While we have no crystal ball, we do believe that the trends we're seeing halfway through 2017 are likely to be indicative of what we can expect to see continue to grow in popularity throughout the rest of the year and beyond," Grubhub spokesperson Kaitlyn Carl told MUNCHIES. "For example, in 2016 we saw the beginning of the uptick in orders for poke bowls. Now, in 2017, the poke bowl craze has grown even further in popularity, [as] we've already seen a 365 percent increase in poke bowl orders this year."
But if you can somehow muster the time and energy, you can always just make your poke at home, like Action Bronson.