During quarantine, the food scene saw some big changes. From restaurants being temporarily closed to limited indoor dining and increased takeout, the pandemic rattled the industry. Social media content also evolved to reflect these changes as people began eating at home more often. Quarantine–induced boredom has led to people cutting cake with wine glasses, customizing tortillas with four different toppings, and only eating from a single location (like a coffee shop) for a whole day—yes, all meals and drinks.
After scrolling through numerous food videos on my YouTube recommended videos, I fell down the rabbit hole of random food challenges. It transitioned from mukbangs to Dalgona coffee to eating food of only one color for 24 hours. Imagine choosing a color and only being able to eat and drink food of that color. Sounds pretty bizarre, right?
Well, I decided to test this out myself to deem whether these trends are really worth the hype. The rules are pretty simple: randomly pick a color, and only eat foods of that color for the whole meal. I decided to tackle this challenge with a few eager friends, and (spoiler alert!) it didn’t go as well as the videos. Right off the bat, my friends and I decided to put a twist on the challenge. Although we were supposed to randomly choose a color, I thought it would be interesting to spice things up and have each of us to select a color we disliked. I chose red, and the others chose green, orange, and yellow. And as responsible college students, we also decided on an affordable limit of two to three items each.
We decided to hop around grocery stores from Giant Food Store to Acme Market as well as visit a few restaurant locations (Paris Baguette and Poké–Man). If I’m being completely honest, the challenge was much more work than I anticipated. It was actually very difficult to find food that was mainly one color, especially food we were willing to eat—as hungry individuals, lemons and jalapeños are not exactly an ideal meal. Moreover, a lot of packages matched our colors, such as a red wrapper, but the actual food inside was a totally different color. But the biggest problem was that some of the colors we chose did not correspond with any flavors we liked. My friend who chose green dislikes mint chocolate chip, but we could only find that flavor for desserts.
For my all–red meal, I ended up with Doritos Spicy Nacho Flavored Tortilla Chips, Cherry Limeade Sparkling Ice, and a Paris Baguette strawberry croissant that I ate too quickly to take a photo of. For her all–orange meal, my friend ended up with a Honest Tea Peach Oolong Tea and Paris Baguette crab croquette. But yellow was the hardest. We changed the rules slightly to allow my friend to get a Simply Orange orange–mango juice and some almost–yellow bread from Paris Baguette. Since my friend who was in charge of green had a very small appetite, she only got a matcha green tea latte from Paris Baguette instead of a whole meal.
In all honesty, this was not the most entertaining challenge. The videos I saw on YouTube and social media showed influencers finding carts full of interesting new snacks to try, but there were clearly limitations we faced in terms of the type of snacks at the grocery stores we visited, the budget we set for ourselves as college students, and the fact that we all just wanted to abandon the challenge in the middle because it was too cold to keep roaming around for more options. I do think the challenge could have been more exciting if we had a bigger budget and nicer weather, but there are certainly easier ways to select food to eat than by hue.
After trying out this trend and pretty much failing it, I realized that social media has reached a point where content is just becoming very simple and repetitive. We watch others do the most random and almost pointless activities, which are actually more interesting in the videos than they are when you try them yourself.
Interestingly, the pandemic has definitely had a role to play in these food trends popping up more often. With restaurants closed or operating at limited capacity, we resort to cooking at home 24/7 and end up eating leftovers for most of our meals. Most of us are ordering from the same places, and meals are not the social, uniting, and fun experiences they once were. When you add on the general quarantine boredom, some really absurd food trends—yes, I'm looking at you, pancake cereal—can emerge. From my experience of this trend, if you really have nothing else to do, this challenge might be a fun way to try new foods. But if you're looking for something more worth your time when it comes to meals, maybe just check out the quarantine recipe hacks and themed dinners on TikTok.