The Tastemakers

The Tastemakers

Why We're Crazy for Cupcakes but Fed up With Fondue (plus Baconomics, Superfoods, and Other Secrets From the World of Food Trends)

Book - 2014
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Baker & Taylor
Examines the world of food trends, revealing where they originate and where they end and who influences them, from food company test labs and trendy food trucks to what characters are eating on television.

Perseus Publishing
Tastemaker, n. Anyone with the power to make you eat quinoa.

Kale. Spicy sriracha sauce. Honeycrisp apples. Cupcakes. These days, it seems we are constantly discovering a new food that will make us healthier, happier, or even somehow cooler. Chia seeds, after a brief life as a novelty houseplant and I Love the '80s punchline, are suddenly a superfood. Not long ago, that same distinction was held by pomegranate seeds, açai berries, and the fermented drink known as kombucha. So what happened? Did these foods suddenly cease to be healthy a few years ago? And by the way, what exactly is a “superfood” again?

In this eye-opening, witty work of reportage, David Sax uncovers the world of food trends: Where they come from, how they grow, and where they end up. Traveling from the South Carolina rice plot of America's premier grain guru to Chicago's gluttonous Baconfest, Sax reveals a world of influence, money, and activism that helps decide what goes on your plate. On his journey, he meets entrepreneurs, chefs, and even data analysts who have made food trends a mission and a business. The Tastemakers is full of entertaining stories and surprising truths about what we eat, how we eat it, and why.

& Taylor

A food and business writer examines the world of food trends, revealing where they originate and where they end and who influences them, from food company test labs and trendy food trucks to what characters are eating on our television shows. 30,000 first printing.

Publisher: New York : PublicAffairs, [2014]
New York : PublicAffairs, [2014]
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9781610393164
Branch Call Number: 394.12 SAX 2014
Characteristics: 318 pages cm


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Mar 31, 2016

Interesting book - gave me plenty to think about. Agree with the previous reviewer that it is full of 'dinner party facts,' but it'd take a pretty die-hard food nerd to get through the whole book - it is long!

Dec 01, 2014

This book may have been better as a series of magazine articles. How long can you go on about cupcakes?! I gave up on in after 3 chapters.

bandblair Nov 20, 2014

I only found a few of the chapters relevant and interesting.

ksoles Jun 23, 2014

3.5 Stars...

Breathe a sigh of relief: David Sax makes it clear that his new book aims to examine the rise and decline of food trends while neither creating guilt nor encouraging a "healthier" lifestyle. His refreshing approach of discussing food without diet counselling allows the reader to appreciate the author's careful, detailed study of why industry fads blossom and wane.

Sax divides "The Tastemakers" into three parts, the first of which describes the four types of trends: cultural (sex appeal), agricultural, chef-driven and health-driven. Here, Sax’s personal interactions with each participant in this sequence offer fascinating insider information and lend credibility to his analysis. Part II studies the most intriguing aspect of food trends: how they become part of our lives. Sax challenges the notion that fads catch on randomly by peering into the food company board room, in which corporate honchos meticulously consider data collected on consumer habits before developing a new product. Devious marketing ploys admit certain foods to the "cool club," guaranteeing that we devour them as if they're going out of style. Finally, part III discusses the demise of food trends such as fondue. Sax also explores political issues, delving into food truck wars and municipal legislation.

Unfortunately, "The Tastemakers" suffers from occasional gender stereotypes. A male grain grower comes across as as a warrior who paddles a canoe into alligator-infested waters to hand-harvest rice whereas Sax describes a female goat-herder and artisanal caramel maker as “a slender, freckly redhead with J. Crew catalog looks,” who is lucky enough to sport an “equally hunky husband.” Nearly twice as many men as women have quotes in the book and Sax obnoxiously overdoes the adjective "ballsy" when referring to courage.

Sax sometimes jumps too fast and too far between subjects and his collection of anecdotes interspersed with opinion ultimately leaves the reader hungry for something deeper. But, in fairness, targeting the massive, intricately connected world of food trends in a journalistically reported book is no mean feat. "The Tastemakers" provides plenty of dinner-party facts and tells the compelling truth that the human diet consists of both what the body needs and what society tells us the body needs.


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