In Singapore we have Food Trends or should I call them Food Crazes. After a hard day at the office, indulging in a food novelty is a nice way to wind down. It’s quite a phenomenon to see long winding queues as young people wait patiently for their items which can often be sold out when they finally get to the front. Older,wiser folk probably shake their heads and think this is a total waste of good money. Eager to rake in the profits, more of these stores sprout up everywhere until one day the bubble bursts.
It all started with the Taiwanese Bubble Tea craze in the late 90’s. This chemical sugar laden drink was everywhere about a decade ago. It seemed grotesque at first, but I found myself addicted to the stuff and I couldn’t get enough of those chewy balls in the milk tea that you slurped up with fat straws. I was as addicted to it as I am to coffee right now. The craze died down, but I see that it’s making a slow comeback. Now I can’t believe I queued up just to get my bubble tea fix. Maybe I just had too much that I became jelat (Singlish for when you have too much of a particular food or drink and get sick of it)
That was replaced by the donut craze a couple of years ago. Everyone was so hungry for donuts, that there were even being sold at MRT stations by enterprising individuals. Many visited nearby Batam and came back laden with boxes of Krispy Kreme donuts. Strangely when Dunkin Donuts recently returned to Singapore’s shores after shutting down in the 80’s, the demand plummeted. I think it’s human psychology that we want what we can’t have and what is rare. A basic supply and demand thing. I see donuts stores looking much emptier these days and it’s all due to the oversupply situation that often follows these trends.
Teenaged girls are going for pretty cupcakes with icing now and I had no idea that cupcakes, bubble tea and chocolate lava cake were fads in America as well. According to Good Housekeeping, in 2011, the sweet pie replaces the cup cake, which reminded me of our apple strudel trend a decade ago.
The last few years brings us into the golden age of Ramen and Fried Chicken. There are Ramen and Fried Chicken restaurants sprouting up everywhere and I am not complaining, as they are both my comfort foods. They are getting more authentic too with Japanese chefs helming the restaurants and Fried Chicken chains from the US like Wendy’s and Texas Chicken. This might just be more than a trend. We have to wait a couple of years to see. Other food trends I like are high teas, brunches and all day breakfast places. Pancakes for supper always sounds like a treat to me.
We are also into frozen yogurts now. Well my partner is, but this trend never caught on with me as I find the stuff overcompensating with sugar as they deceptively market themselves as healthy and fat free. Another trend I didn’t like but which my sister is at this very moment craving for is Roti Boy which is coffee flavoured buns. It used to be in Singapore, but you now have to go to Malaysia to get it. I am a coffee addict, but somehow could not bear the smell of those oily buns.
In between there were other fads like fancy bread with inventive names that was started by the chain BreadTalk. I wasn’t into this as I always felt that the fresher simple buns made at the markets were much tastier and not as dry.
Beside food trends there were other crazes, one of them being the Korean movies and drama serials. The Korean movies led to everyone wanting to visit the places where the film was shot as well. There were April Snow tours based on the Korean hit movie April Snow, which started it all. I thought the Korean actresses were just so beautiful and I was smitten by the movies ‘You are my Sunshine’ and ‘200 Pounds Beauty’. Although the latter was a tad superficial and would definitely rile up feminists, the actress was just so irresistibly sweet and charming. My cousin used to get scolded for watching Korean dramas for hours on end, instead of doing her homework.
In terms of fashion I can’t get over the contact lenses that make your pupils and iris larger and they come in all sorts of colours for anime eyes. Even girls with perfect eyesight are wearing this. I just want to tell them, “Don’t ruin your eyes”. Plastic surgery and Botox are also becoming more popular among Singapore women as it’s a sad fact that the more attractive you are the better you fare at the workplace.
So when you next visit Singapore, look out for our latest trends. They may be only here for a moment.