OPINIONFood

5 TikTok trends poised to pop in restaurants

Chefs admit they often look to TikTok for inspiration, and a number of viral ideas have already shown up on their menus. Others may be coming through the pipeline.
Turkish Breakfast
Hummus Mediterranean Kitchen just started serving Turkish Breakfast on weekends, a meal that's gone viral on TikTok. | Photo courtesy of Hummus Mediterranean Kitchen.

The butter board may have started it all. In the fall of 2022, a Brooklyn, N.Y. TikTok influencer smeared a wooden board with butter, garnished it with culinary flair and served it with bread for dipping. It soon became a viral sensation, professional chefs took notice and it wasn’t long before restaurants, caterers and hotels jumped on the trend.

Fast forward to 2024 and TikTok continues its draw as an inspiration for menu ideas. Here are five of the top food trends blowing up on the platform now, some of which have already gained restaurant traction and others that may be poised to pop.

The Sleepy Girl Mocktail

The original Sleepy Girl Cocktail was posted by Gracie Norton but has since been replicated by scores of other TikTok creators. They swear that drinking the combo of tart cherry juice, magnesium powder and lemon-lime soda chilled with ice causes them to doze off faster than any other pre-bedtime elixir. Tart cherry juice contains melatonin, a natural sleep inducer.

@sierra_cooley @gracie_norton you’re on to something here #sleepy#sleepygirl#sleepbetter#drinksoftiktok#mocktailrecipe♬ original sound - sierra | socials & content

 

Smoothie King caught the drift, and new on its menu this month is the Sleep Girlzzz Smoothie. It’s a blend of tart cherry juice, dairy whey, bananas, pear passion fruit juice and turbinado sugar. Chances are it won’t be long before other beverage concepts launch their own versions.

Burn-away Cakes

The hashtag #burnawaycake has racked up millions of views on TikTok, with many of the hits going to cakesbynams, a Canadian pastry pro named Namaya Navaratnarajah. The trick is to stack a layer of frosting paper imprinted with a design over a cake, then top it with a thin layer of edible paper. As the top layer of paper is burned away, it reveals the design underneath. Navaratnarajah’s first post was a Taylor Swift cake, which naturally went viral immediately, but she has since created dozens of other designs.

Angelina, a bakery with four locations in New York City, made its burn-away debut with two seasonal cakes, themed to Lunar New Year and Valentine’s Day. Starting at around $40, customers can also order a custom burn-away cake to add a “wow factor” to a celebration or special occasion.

And just this week, Burger King created its own burn-away cake—not to sell for dessert but to promote its Million Dollar Whopper contest. The chain posted the video on TikTok:

@burgerking

♬ Pop Star - Coco & Clair Clair

Look for more of these edible marketing moves from other restaurant brands.

Chickles

To the best of my knowledge, Chickles haven’t shown up on menus yet, but they are a perfect late-night munchie for a Taco Bell fan. Basically, a #chickle is a pickle bundled in a disc of crispy cheese. Shredded cheese is melted and crisped on a griddle and when still pliable wrapped around a pickle spear. It can be made with mozzarella, muenster, cheddar, Swiss and other meltable varieties, and some cooks add slices of salami or ham to the mix before it’s rolled up. Iterations abound on TikTok, with dips, spices and sauces gussying up some recipes.

@shewillevolve 10/10 highly recommend #recipe#chickle#fyp♬ Dado - isaintjames

 

Turkish Breakfast

Breakfast is considered the most important meal of the day in Turkish culture, and the components are not really new. But what is new is that all of a sudden, #turkishbreakfast is trending on TikTok, with a dish called Cilbir the center of attention.

Cilbir (Turkish Eggs) has a base of thick, garlicky yogurt or labneh topped with poached eggs, spiced olive oil or butter sauce and red pepper flakes. It’s served with toasted peasant-style bread to scoop up the ingredients.

@whatgreatgrandmaate Turkish eggs or cilbir - HEAVENLY. #turkisheggrecipe#turkishegg#cilbir#cilbirrecipe#glutenfreerecipes#glutenfreetiktok#greekyogurt#asmrfood#asmecooking#breakfastideas♬ original sound - Jean Choi

 

Mediterranean restaurants in the U.S. are starting to promote Turkish Breakfast as more of a brunch-style meal, offered on Saturdays and Sundays as a shareable, family-style spread. Hummus Mediterranean Kitchen with three locations in California’s Bay Area, just launched its version. The menu includes Menemen (scrambled eggs cooked with sauteed onions, peppers and tomato), the Breakfast Board (a traditional Turkish breakfast charcuterie with Halal meats), marinated boiled eggs, Shakshuka, various spreads, breakfast pastries, cheese, olives and a pot of Turkish tea.

Chopped Italian Sandwich

Subway and Jersey Mike’s may already be experimenting with this wildly popular but wildly simple concept: An Italian sub filled with the traditional ingredients, only chopped for easier, less messy eating. This video explains it all:

@jbsflavortrain Chopped italian sandwhiches! These are sooooo good and so easy to make! Definitely going to be serving this up all summer long. #sandwhiches#foodie#italiansandwiches#viralfood#viralrecipes2023#foodguy#italiansubs#foodinspo#easymealprep#easylunch#easydinner#easymeals#easyrecipes#mealprep#foodinspo#italianfood#grub#fyp#foodfyp#mealprepfyp♬ That's Amore - Dean Martin

 

The recipe starts with a base of lettuce, with pepperoni, salami, ham and other Italian cold cuts layered on top, then tomatoes, red onions, banana peppers and cheese. That’s all chopped up into small pieces then combined with mayo, olive oil, vinegar, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper and piled into a sub roll. Takes a little more labor, but just like a chopped salad, each bite provides consistent flavor and texture. And the technique allows for more customization.

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