“The Sweet Uncle Fred” from Little Collins in New York City
By Molly Tow, Contributing Writer
Brunch is more than just a fad—it’s an experience. Brunch is universal because it inhabits an important niche: it’s social and it’s versatile.
Hours are different on the weekends. We have enough time to not just settle for another bowl of cereal. Do we want breakfast or lunch food? Making decisions is hard. So we get to choose both. Weekends also tend to be the times when convening with friends and imbibing during daylight are most appropriate, convenient, and of course, fun. Brunch is an obvious go-to for organized group hangouts.
Variety, then, makes brunch all the more enticing. It’s not just eggs and bacon anymore, folks. Mexican, Italian, Filipino, Mediterranean—diversity of options controls against boredom, in turn increasing the staying power of brunch as a cultural entity.
Fads, by contrast, are inherently ephemeral. Whereas cultural entities like Brunch, Delis and Pizzerias are deeply rooted in the soil of our food spheres, fads are planted and it’s undetermined whether or not they’ll adapt to the environment. Or, if we’re really going with this analogy, how often they’re watered. Cupcakes, fro-yo and bubble tea are seemingly things of the past. Now we’re about poke, vegan desserts, gut friendly/medicinal food, and flavored bubbly water (yes, seltzer).
“The Smash” from Little Collins in New York City
So what factors keep a fad from dwindling? What helps it get woven into the mainstream?
It’s both healthy and tasty.
It makes for a good ‘gram.
It’s easily accessible
Case study: the Avocado.
I’ve been more or less aware of the avocado’s existence for the majority of my years on earth. Growing up, most of my interactions with this now-ubiquitous fruit came in the form of guacamole. Guac, though still featured on menus and in supermarkets everywhere, has been eclipsed in popularity by avocado toast—profound in its simplicity. Any worthy breakfast or brunch spot is pretty much mandated to serve some form of mashed avocado on a toasted piece of bread (with gluten-free alternatives, of course). The avocado has become so omnipotent at this point that there exists a restaurant in Brooklyn by the name of “Avocaderia”: an all-avocado eatery that recently nabbed a deal on Shark Tank. Now let’s look at whether or not it fits the criteria:
Avocados are incredibly nutrient-dense (they contain almost 20 essential vitamins and minerals) and though considered a “fat”, they’re low in in saturated fat and cholesterol. And as far as taste goes, it’s pretty much common knowledge that avocados are “nature’s butter”.
Avocados are pretty. They shine a brilliant green and are quite malleable, too. Any food that you can reconstruct to look like a rose has got to be photogenic. Food photography some of the most traction on Instagram and social media, which can seriously influence the demand of whatever’s trending.
You can find avocados at just about every eatery nowadays. Bagel shops, delis, cafes, fine dining establishments—you name it. Point being, though there’s some allure to going out of one’s way to acquire a specialty food nestled in some faraway neighborhood, there’s comfort in knowing there’s an easy way to get your fix quickly.
Honorable mention criterion: bicoastal potential. The avocado, along with all-vegan-everything and poke, were initiated via the West Coast and successfully made the journey to the East Coast. Consider brunch again: the more widespread, the more foundational, the greater the likelihood that a trend becomes a non-perishable.
Molly Tow is a New York-based writer, researcher and meditation teacher. When she’s not studying the inner workings of the mind (psychology), you can find her studying all things food and beverage through pen and tongue. Molly got her start in food blogging in college when she started chronicling her quest to try all of the signature sandwiches at a popular Italian market in Morningside Heights. To follow her current consumption exploits, give her a follow on Yelp at https://mollytow.yelp.com and Instagram @mtow1016.