The Tastemakers: Why We're Crazy for Cupcakes but Fed Up with Fondue

The Tastemakers: Why We're Crazy for Cupcakes but Fed Up with Fondue

by David Sax


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The Tastemakers: Why We're Crazy for Cupcakes but Fed Up with Fondue by David Sax

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781610393157
Publisher: PublicAffairs
Publication date: 05/27/2014
Pages: 336
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.40(d)

About the Author

David Sax is a writer specializing in business and food. His writing appears regularly in the New York Times, Bloomberg Businessweek, Saveur, the Grid Toronto,, and other publications. His first book, Save the Deli: In Search of Perfect Pastrami, Crusty Rye, and the Heart of Jewish Delicatessen, was a Los Angeles Times bestseller. Sax's work has also won a James Beard Award for Writing and Literature. He lives in Toronto.

Table of Contents

Introduction ix

Part I The Four Types of Trends

1 The Cultural Trend: Sex Appeal 3

2 Agriculture: The Slow Boat to China Black 29

3 Chefs: A Ceviche in Every Pot 51

4 Health: Take Two Chia Seeds and Call Me in the Morning 75

Part II How Trends Break Out

5 Sales: Awards Night 105

6 Data: The Trendwatchers 127

7 Marketing: Someday My Red Prince Will Come 149

Part III Why Food Trends Matter

8 Ethnic Foods: As American as Chicken Tikka Masala 177

9 Food Politics: The Taco Truck March on Washington 205

10 Money: Baconomics 101 233

11 Aftermath: Fondue Retires to Florida 255

Epilogue: A Cronut at the End of the Rainbow 277

Acknowledgments 291

Selected Bibliography 295

Index 303

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The Tastemakers: Why We're Crazy for Cupcakes but Fed Up with Fondue (Plus Baconomics, Superfoods, and Other Secrets from the World of Food Trends) 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Jason_A_Greer More than 1 year ago
The Tastemakers is an interesting investigation into how foods, particularly quick serve, and presentations of them become popular within the last 20 years in American life. Beginning with the cupcake trend, inspired by the show, Sex and the City, to covering such topics as food trucks, gourmet hamburgers, quinoa, chia seeds, heirloom rice, pomegranate, south Asian food, etc., come in to popular focus, like a storm, then recede again, as if never there. The strength of this work is its real investigation, from coast to coast, with extensive interviews, of the folks at the point of literally making new tastes. Much of post - WWII, American mass food culture gained a reputation of steady, dependable, and generally bland - perhaps with a little bit of French food in some larger cities and with every town of any size having a 'fine dining' steak house. The Tastemakers shows how that stranglehold was broken in the 90's, and is continuing in some really unpredictable ways, and shows how some things become popular, like gourmet burgers, and some things have the promise to, but never quite catch on, like Indian food in general culture. As a book, this reads like a 270+ page, long form journalism story. There isn't a strong unifying theme here, but more of features and investigations of particular food types and why they have or have not become popular in the general culture. With the explosion of food expressions over the last 20 years, across the country, this is a worthwhile attempt to explain how that has happened, and how entrepreneurs up to larger corporations have attempted to adapt and lead.