The year 2015 was supersaturated with newsworthy nuggets from the world of food. Some headlines practically had us salivating with excitement, while others had us either scratching our heads in bemusement or shaking them in embarrassment. Regardless of the nature of this past year’s food news, each story served as a small state of the union for the ever-evolving industry. So without further appetite-whetting, here are the 20 Best Food News Stories of 2015.
20. Meet Taco Bell’s Fried Chicken Shell Taco
It wouldn’t be a year of fast food in America without a new calorie-crazy concoction. Taking a grease-stained page from their Yum Brand peers at KFC (the pioneers of subbing in fried chicken whenever possible), Taco Bell introduced a fried chicken shell taco last September. Dubbed the Naked Crispy Chicken Taco, the product broke hearts from the start by only being available in a couple California cities.
19. Smart Plate Tells You When You’ve Hit Your Food Limit
While it may have initially seemed like some kind of shaming device, the SmartPlate proved to be more than the fun police for food. Created by Anthony Ortiz, the innovative plate, which works with a corresponding app, can be programmed to let you know when you’ve reached the number of calories you set out for, but it can also help people with diabetes stay alert to their carbohydrate intake and it can also let bodybuilders know they need more protein. Ortiz plans to have the plate ready by summer 2016.
18. Swedish Brothers Send a Doughnut to Space
When Neil Armstrong first stepped foot on the moon in 1969, humanity as a whole began dreaming of the day we’d launch the first doughnut into space. Just 46 years later, the giant leap for doughnut-kind was taken when brothers Alexander and Benjamin Jönsson traveled from Sweden to Norway to attach a doughnut and camera to a weather balloon and send it nearly 20 miles above the earth’s surface. Why did they send the doughnut on such a journey? Essentially because it was unprecedented/crazy, they claimed.
17. Edible Billboards Take the Cake for Innovative Advertising
During last year’s NCAA Final Four, Coke Zero constructed a 4,500-foot billboard in Indianapolis emblazoned with the words “Taste It” and dispensed the drink from six different fountains. In similar fashion, Carlsberg Beer erected a billboard that was self-declared “Probably the best poster in the world,” which served ID-equipped pedestrians glasses of beer. But Britain’s crowning achievement in edible advertising was a Mr. Kipling billboard made of 13,000 pieces of cake that were free for the taking.
16. 16-Year-Old Prodigy Opens First Restaurant in NYC
Last September, 16-year-old Flynn McGarry opened his first restaurant in New York City’s West Village. The culinary prodigy began apprenticing at renowned bars and restaurants at 13, which means this isn’t a case of some delusional rich teen getting carried away. The restaurant, called Eureka, is open three days a week and offers a 14-course menu priced at $160 per person.
15. 103-Year-Old Cracker From the Titanic Sells For $23,000
One of the strangest stories of the year occurred in October when a Greek collector decided his heart would not go on without a very expensive cracker from the Titanic. The cracker was reportedly part of a Titanic lifeboat survival kit kept by SS Carpathia passenger James Fenwick. So, naturally, the collector decided to drop $23,000 on the immortal biscuit at a British auction.
14. Restaurant Entrepreneurs Design Plates Perfect for Smartphone Photos
The trend of liking food photos almost more than food itself was solidified in 2015, and a Tel Aviv restaurant really took that notion to another level. The restaurant, Catit, introduced Foodograpy early last summer, a limited-time dining experience featuring various custom-made plates that enable quality photos of the food. Among the plates was The Limbo, which has a phone slot on one end and a large curved side on the other to create a backdrop.
13. Chili’s Shells Out $750,000 for Attractive Instagram Photos
Tel Aviv’s Catit wasn’t the only restaurant to realize the weight of Instagram last year. Chili’s showed proved their penchant for details when it was revealed that the chain spends around $750,000 a year on an egg wash that makes their burger buns just a little more aesthetically-pleasing for social media scrollers. “It just makes it look great. It glistens, it shines,” stated Wyman Roberts, CEO of Chili’s parent company, Brinker International.
12. Target Revamping its Food Section to Better Imitate Whole Foods
Target began aiming at a different bullseye for its food section in 2015—Whole Foods. The grocery reboot is said to be an effort to attract the elusive younger demographic who seeks healthier food options for affordable prices. Some of the items featured in the revamp-in-progress include “fancy sauces,” yogurt and granola, all supplied by smaller brands.
11. British KFC Restaurants Test Edible Coffee Cups
By KFC logic, bread is best when replaced with fried chicken, and cups shall therefore be replaced with chocolate. As part of a promotion with Starbucks’ Seattle’s Best Coffee, the fast-chicken chain tested coffee cups made with chocolate-lined, wafer-coated sugar paper cups at select restaurants in Britain last year. Though it probably seemed like a glutinous ploy, the edible cups at least work in favor of sustainability, an issue that looms over much of the food industry.
10. Twitter Launches Curated Food Account
Those who had been wanting their Twitter feed to just feed them food got their way on April 30, 2015. The special food-centric account, @TwitterFood, is the social network’s effort to curate the best of food-related tweets happening in real-time. Followers are treated to offerings of major food names such as Martha Stewart and Alton Brown as well as the best of the general public’s tweets about eats.
9. McDonald’s Quietly Unveils New “Artisan” Chicken Sandwich
Taking a step further from the increasingly fancier photos that keep showing up on their drive-thru menus, McDonald’s decided to refine it’s image just a touch. The company unveiled a new “artisan” chicken sandwich at a few locations, complete with signs describing the unlikely product. “Seared 100% chicken breast fillet, pantry seasonings and a zesty vinaigrette,” detailed the advertisements, while many wondered if “pantry seasonings” were just different brands of salt.
8. Kellogg Joins Operation “Remove Artificial Ingredients” By 2018
Following in the footsteps of their peers in Nestle, Kellogg announced plans to ditch the fake stuff from their foods by 2018. In response to consumer demands for more natural products, the company vows to remove additives from 90% of its products by 2016 and phase all of them out by 2018. However, this news did spell doom for the vibrancy of Fruit Loops.
7. Taco Bell Begins Serving Alcohol in Select Cities
Though Taco Bell has only started offering beer, wine and mixed drinks in a couple cities, the sound of college kids rejoicing can be heard nationwide. Beginning with an alcohol-friendly franchise in the Wicker Park neighborhood of Chicago, the fast food company then opened another “Taco Bell Cantina” location in San Francisco. Of course, the beverages are strictly prohibited from drive-thru customers and the Chicago location even hired a bouncer for good measure.
6. David Chang Launches NYC Food Delivery Service, Maple
Food delivery startups ran amok more than ever last year, but few made an impact like Maple. The service, created by celebrity chef David Chang, officially launched last spring and changed the game for Manhattan-dwelling foodies seeking a more unique, carefully-crafted delivery experience. Maple uses ingredients such as free-range, antibiotic-free chicken, local farm spinach and fresh vegetables, with daily lunches and dinners offering three meal options each.
5. Some People Decided to Deep Fry Pumpkin Spiced Lattes
America’s fetish for all things pumpkin spiced reached a new level of insanity in 2015, just in time for fall. Late in September, Bustle went ahead and combined two surefire recipes for success by showing the world how to deep fry a Pumpkin Spiced Latte. Perhaps in 2016, we’ll just walk around hooked up to IVs filled with the seasonal spice.
4. Tender: “The One” Perfect Recipe
Hungry romantics swiping right in search of love got an app perfect for their pursuit this past year. The Tinder-inspired food app, Tender, launched last summer to offer the young and the restless the chance to find motivation to cook. Using a built-in filter system, the recipe app can be customized to personal preferences with options for drinks, dessert, chicken, pork, beef, seafood, vegan and vegetarian.
3. Blue Bell Ice Cream Recall Expands to All Products
The dessert industry was shaken to its core in the spring when beloved ice cream makers Blue Bell were forced to recall all of their products. Citing concerns of Listeria, the company recalled every last container of its ice cream, frozen yogurt and sherbert, which are sold in 23 states. Sweet-toothed citizens across the country went into panic mode, with some even forming Blue Bell black markets online and selling pints for absurd prices.
2. Chipotle Becomes First Major Chain to Go GMO-Free
When Chipotle promised to provide only ingredients devoid of genetically modified organisms new promise to provide only ingredients devoid of genetically modified organisms is unprecedented for a major chain restaurant. The company has had the plan in place for some time now, taking its first step in 2013 by openly stating which ingredients on its menu contained genetically modified organisms. In a blog post last year, Chipotle co-CEO Steve Ells stated, “Genetically modified foods hold out promises that are at best untested, and at worst unrealistic.” this past year, it was an unprecedented move for a major chain restaurant. The company had the plan in place for some time, taking its first step in 2013 by openly stating which ingredients on its menu contained genetically modified organisms. In a blog post, Chipotle co-CEO Steve Ells stated, “Genetically modified foods hold out promises that are at best untested, and at worst unrealistic.”
1. Tech Titan Lenovo Demos 3-D Printer That Literally Prints Food
Welcome to a world where a 3D printer can create chocolate. At a Lenovo Tech World Conference in Beijing last May, the China-based corporation showed off an incredible the 3D chocolate printer to the fortunate attendees. If other billion-dollar corporations like Lenovo get in on similar endeavors, 3D printing could be the future of food.