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Top 10 Foolish Food Fads

by Gregory Myers
fact checked by Darci Heikkinen

Food trends come and go with the desires of the populace. If people desire healthier food, you will soon see more options appearing that at least look healthy. When people want less fat or sugar, big food will provide. However, as we look for the best way to have our cake and eat it, too, we try crazier and crazier food trends, and many of them are not so good for us.

Related: 10 Dangerous Health Fads And Medical Treatments Used In The Past

9 The Goldfish Swallowing Craze of 1939 American Colleges

Forgotten Pastimes (Things Our Grandparents Did)

If you ever hear a much older person complaining about something stupid your generation did, you can point out that in 1939, American colleges decided to start swallowing live goldfish to prove something about their machismo and how cool they were. It all started with one college student from Harvard who swallowed one goldfish. After that, it began to spread from college to college across the country, and before you knew it, someone had boasted a record of 101 goldfish in a single sitting.

Now, while it spread like wildlife, it also burned itself out really quickly. Eating live goldfish isn’t really that appealing. Most people who did it had to put salt and pepper on them first or wash them down with milk or mashed potatoes. You could also feel the scales sometimes on the way down, which wasn’t pleasant.

Apart from animal rights groups lobbying against it and legislators trying to ban it from existence, it isn’t good for you either. Doctors warned against doing the goldfish swallowing challenge because you could get tapeworms and anemia. For these reasons, it is easily one of the shortest college fads of all time.[1]

9 Marijuana and Delta 8 Edibles That Look Like Candy

FDA warns about drug packaged to look like candy l GMA

Recreational marijuana is starting to become a lot more popular—and legal—in the United States, and many of the people who are just starting to get into it are intimidated by the idea of smoking. This means it has become quite popular among new users to take marijuana in an edible form. Along with this new popularity, there is also a rise of something called Delta 8 THC, which is currently legal in the United States and provides a similar high.

While it may be a somewhat smart decision for health reasons to go with edible forms over smoking, manufacturers also put it in a form that is easy for children to accidentally ingest. To make matters worse, a lot of these products look like candy, and regulation varies greatly from state to state on that sort of thing.

Unfortunately, this is already having consequences, as children are being hospitalized at an increasing rate for ingesting marijuana edible without meaning to. In one case, a child actually died from Delta 8 edibles, and in Las Vegas, a toddler nearly died from ingestion of Delta 9 edibles (the regular kind).[2]

8 Cannibal Sandwiches and Steak Tartare at Home Can Make You Sick

CANNIBAL SANDWICH | Wildcat | Tiger Meat – raw beef & onion | Represent: Wisconsin

For those who aren’t aware, steak tartare is a dish often served at fancy restaurants that consists mainly of raw beef. The beef is mixed with seasonings and usually has a raw egg yolk served on top for some extra bacteria. Now, while poisonings happen at fancy restaurants, it is much rarer there as they tend to have rather stringent safety standards and know exactly how to prepare it safely. The problem is that at home, most people don’t have the proper know-how or the proper high-quality beef to prepare it safely at all.

To prepare steak tartare, you should never use ground beef, as there is too much chance of pre-contamination. You should always use good quality cuts of meat and grind them right before serving in a perfectly hygienic and sterile environment—which most people’s kitchens aren’t.

Even worse is the “cannibal sandwich” from Wisconsin, which is often eaten around the holidays. It just straight-up uses preground beef mixed with spices and is eaten raw. The government’s advice on eating this treat is to eat it cooked or not eat it at all.[3]

7 The Unicorn Fad Even Gave Starbucks Employees Nervous Breakdowns

Starbucks Barista Flips Out Over Creating Hyped-Up Unicorn Frappuccinos

A few years back, through a combination of trends and social media influence, the unicorn craze began. Before long, you couldn’t go anywhere without seeing a billion cutesy products covered in unicorn colors and finery. It was considered a great trend for taking Instagram pictures, and it took off very quickly—with girls especially enjoying the cuteness of it. Most people considered it harmless fun, but like anything taken too far, it had a dark side.

The problem is that before long, the fad became absurdly pervasive. Beyond just wearing out a good thing, it had unfortunate consequences. Some people saw the unicorn trend as a lifestyle and formed communities around it, which quickly exhausted themselves just like the trend. However, most importantly, it started to give nervous breakdowns to the service sector employees who had to be at the forefront of the whole crazy thing.

At the height of the craze, Starbucks released a unicorn frappuccino that was color and flavor changing. This drink was very difficult to make and messy as well. One barista made a viral video complaining about how horrible it was to make, showing all the unicorn gunk that was now stuck all over him. Luckily, even Starbucks thought he had a point, and they didn’t fire him for the video.[4]

6 Bacon Everything: Tacky, Expensive, and Also Bad for Your Health

How to Put Bacon in Every Dish! | Eat the Trend

In the early 2010s in America, bacon became so prevalent for a while that you couldn’t go anywhere without seeing it in everything. In terms of food, it was going places it shouldn’t be, like bacon sundaes with maple syrup, but it got far worse with non-food products.

People were using bacon to make flavored lollipops, scented soaps and deodorants, and everything else in between. At one point during the frenzy, there was even a rumor there would be a bacon shortage the next year. Many people were quite worried until the rumor turned out to be false.

However, like pigs, the fad had rather short legs, and before long, people started to tire of all the memes. Putting bacon on everything was now seen as a restaurant trying to pander to a played-out joke instead of being cool and part of what was happening.

Along with that, the ridiculous novelty products also started to die away. However, even though the craze died down after a few years, bacon consumption continued to stay up, even with prices higher than ever. It seems that despite the health risks, while Americans may have tired of the memes, they never tired of the bacon itself.[5]

5 Too Much Carrot Juice or Sunny Delight Can Turn Your Skin Orange

Eating so many carrots made me orange! – Would I Lie to You? [HD]

One of the favorite new fads of the nouveau healthy is to turn every bit of fruit or veg they get their hands on into a pulverized juice blend instead of enjoying its textures or cooking it. This is supposed to give you all kinds of health benefits, increase your immune system, and be full of antioxidants and the like. Among juicers, one of the most popular concoctions is carrot juice, which many people believe to be good for their eyesight—and just packed with vitamins in general.

The problem with juicing is that many people just focus on one or two of their favorite juices, and they can have consequences beyond just nutritional deficiencies. The problem with carrot juice, in particular, is that it can turn you orange. Of course, this is not desirable as the average person doesn’t want to look like an Oompa Loompa.

But it is not only carrot juice but also any product containing a lot of beta carotene that can do it, as one parent in the UK found out when her daughter drank 1.5 liters of Sunny Delight a day until her skin turned orange. Fortunately, though, the condition fades in a few months and doesn’t carry other health risks.[6]

4 The Olestra Debacle Proved That Sometimes You Just Can’t Have It Both Ways

Olestra | The Miracle Fat Substitute That Became a Pop-Culture Punchline

In the 1990s, especially in America, it was very popular to look for snacks or foods that got rid of the fat entirely, and if it was low calorie—and especially zero calorie—all the better. In order to fit this craze, in 1996, Proctor and Gamble got Olean approved, which was more commonly known as Olestra when used in the products.

The product seemed like a bona fide miracle at first. It was able to give you a fat substitute, so you could enjoy what it was like to eat fat without all the guilty health problems associated with it. It was thrown into Pringles, Fritos, and other snack foods. Soon, many people were consuming the new miracle fat substitute.

And that was when it became very clear that the warning labels on the products were not just the government being extra cautious. The problem is that, in this case, you just cannot have your cake and eat it too. The only way for a fat substitute to be truly zero calories is basically if your body doesn’t digest it at all, and that was what happened.

Olestra led to loose stools and caused people to have very greasy bowel movements. While the strict labeling was retired in 2003, this was mainly because hardly anyone was trying to use it as an additive anymore. Not long after, the fat-free food fad had mostly died away.[7]

3 Preworkouts: Totally Unnecessary and Can Even Be Dangerous

What They Don’t Tell You About Preworkouts

It has recently become a trend to start your workout with a big dose of preworkouts. These supplements are the next big thing in bodybuilding. Despite the warning label, many teens who are not yet eighteen years old are getting their hands on them in the hopes of quick—and sick—gains.

Now, like many things that can be dangerous for us, it can also do some good if used the right way and in the right amounts. If used responsibly, it does have a lot of compounds that can be helpful in bodybuilding. But the thing is, it really is not necessary, and there are risks involved.

For starters, there is no set amount of preworkout ingredients, so with any given formulation, you could be getting something wildly different. With poor regulation for the supplement market in general, sometimes you can’t be sure you are even getting what is listed. Taking too much can quickly give you a caffeine overdose, and if you make your own, it is even easier to mess up.

One man from Liverpool died because he didn’t tare his scale first and ended up overdosing on caffeine. Even more dangerous is the recent dry scooping trend on Tik-Tok, as this can overdose you on caffeine really quickly, as one teen influencer found out when she barely survived a heart attack from dry scooping.[8]

2 Activated Charcoal Had Problems as a Popular Food Dye

What Activated Charcoal Actually Does To Your Body | The Human Body

A few years ago, slightly before the pandemic took the world by storm, activated charcoal became quite a hit. For a while, you couldn’t go anywhere without seeing an offering that was pure black. Many people just thought it was a safe but pretty way to enjoy their food. Others actually believed that they could get some health benefits out of it—including those who thought it could even prevent or cure hangovers.

However, it started to go out of fashion quickly once people realized all the risks associated with using it. One of the biggest problems is that it can actually absorb medications, making them not work properly. This property can be medically useful in the right setting to absorb certain types of poisons. Still, more often than not, it isn’t the right choice.

Using it at home can cause constipation so severe that, in really extreme cases, you can get bowel blockages and perforations. As for the supposed benefits that some think outweigh the risks, there is little evidence to suggest it is therapeutically useful at home. And it does not cure or prevent hangovers.[9]

1 The Keto Diet: A Fat Burning Fad Meant Only for Extreme Epilepsy Cases

What The Keto Diet Actually Does To Your Body | The Human Body

The Keto Diet has become popular recently because it is seen as a shortcut to burn fat. The issue is that the Keto Diet was never meant for weight loss. Keto is a medical diet designed for kids with epilepsy. Usually, it was used because the medications they had available were quite dangerous for the kids to take. Today, it is rarely ever used or needed in a medical setting as we have much better medicines.

The idea behind the Keto Diet is that you starve yourself of carbohydrates and eat a little protein and mostly fat, which forces your body into a state of ketosis. In this state, you use fat for energy instead of sugar. Many people see this as a miracle of weight loss, but it comes with a lot of risks.

As we stated earlier, it was made for something else entirely and was only meant as a last resort. The thing is, little is known about its long-term use, but we now have a list of potential short-term effects, including constipation, low blood pressure, nutrient deficiencies, an increased risk of heart disease, high LDL cholesterol, kidney stones, brain fogginess, confusion, mood swings, and irritability.[10]

fact checked by Darci Heikkinen