Art & Culture

The Rainbow Food Trend

Andrew Parker
Dec 09, 2021

We are often very quick to judge our food based on how it looks. Instinctively this makes sense, we probably inherited this trait from our ancestors who would identify the nutrition of a food based on its color. A paler sun-bleached fruit might indicate that it’s been sitting out in the sun too long, and has since lost some of the qualities it offers. It might also just be because we enjoy looking at beautiful things, and why should our food be any different?

The Rainbow Bagel hit out social media feeds in early 2016. By February, a video about the process of making these bagels in The Bagel Store went viral on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Shortly after, the bagels were produced in the Super Bowl team colors. Eventually, bakeries around the world started copying the idea, and rainbow foods became a massive trend. Once Starbucks released the Unicorn Frappuccino, there was no going back. The trend began to spread worldwide, from bagels and cakes to grilled cheese and pizzas. Even the people’s regular cups of coffee were being transformed to this colorful sensation.

But what is it about rainbow food that made it become such a global sensation? Is it the eye-catching vibrancy that first attracts our attention? Maybe it’s just because rainbows are objectively beautiful. They’re great to look at, and seeing them burst over social media is just so inviting to jump on the bandwagon. Rainbows add a sense of fun to food, that instills a childlike sense of wonder, they give us room to be playful with mundane things.

Some say that there is a science behind it. We tend to associate different colors with different tastes. While different regions might associate different tastes with colors, we all expect something. In the US for instance, we’d expect yellow and green to taste sour, and red and pink to be sweet. When we see multicolored food, we subconsciously perceive it to be more flavorful. There is also a study that shows that simply a variety of colors can make food seem more exciting as well. Whether they taste different, for better or for worse, there is no denying that rainbow foods are always fun to look at.