TikTok Food Trends Of 2022 That Can't Be Unseen

At the swipe of a fingertip, we can access an array of viral videos like Squishy the chipmunk"It's corn," and Lizzo's "About Damn Time" dance, all of which live in our heads rent-free, and we're not complaining. Even if you tried to stay away from TikTok when it was first released worldwide in 2018, it's hard to avoid. Most of us have by now caved and downloaded the addictive app, with global users now numbering over 1 billion. 

TikTok has become the place for recipes and food hacks: A behemoth collection under the hashtag "tiktokfood" has garnered about 90 billion views (via Investopedia). Your TikTok algorithm can deliver recipes and food trends from all kinds of users: your next-door neighbor who loves to cook, a famous chef like David Chang, or a random "rage-bait chef" (via Verge).

There were some amazing food trends on TikTok in 2022, but they can't all be winners. Some of this year's food trends have been downright awful, pointless, and even dangerous. It's difficult to navigate through the billions of viral videos and work out which ones are actually good and which ones are only popular due to the shock factor. 

This is where common sense and intuition come into play. Just because something is viral doesn't mean it's good! It's best to consider all the awful TikTok food trends of 2022 so that you know what to avoid. 

The controversial pink sauce

The Pepto Bismol-looking pink sauce of 2022 had people asking: "What is it!?" and, for some reason, "I want it!" The infamous pink dipping sauce by Chef Pii went viral thanks to her intensive social media promotion. According to Pii, you can use the dragon fruit-flavored dipping sauce on almost anything. The sauce sold out, despite the fact that the ingredients were vague and that nobody could really describe the taste (via Paper).

But people started noticing it was always different shades of pink (ranging from hot pink to pastel). One Tiktoker dubbed it "50 Shades of Pink Sauce," and others questioned the ingredients (via TikTok). Some claimed the sauce didn't have enough preservatives to make it shelf-stable by FDA standards. 

When asked about FDA approval, Pii responded by saying that she doesn't sell medical products. However, the "F" in "FDA" stands for food, so her pink sauce is very much included (via Forbes). Videos soon showed purchases that exploded during shipping and bloated bottles. 

Other customers claimed it made them sick, most likely because the product was shipped overground and unrefrigerated during a heat wave (via LA Times). The biggest concern was botulism, specifically food-borne botulism (via Vice).

Pii operates out of her home kitchen, and although we appreciate her entrepreneurship, we're thankful that she has now partnered with Dave's Gourmet. So you can safely try the viral pink sauce, but sadly, it's now more of an orange color (via Vice).

Healthy Coke

Fizzy bubbles plus brown-colored liquid does not equal coke, even if it looks like it! However, TikTok user Amanda Jones clearly disagreed when she posted a "Healthy Coke" recipe concoction made of sparkling seltzer water and balsamic vinegar. In the video, she tells viewers that the drink tastes exactly like coke. 

People love Coca-Cola: 1.7 billion servings of Coke products are consumed every day, but there are 37 grams of added sugar (10 tsp) in a single can (via MedicalNewsToday). So, excitement for a healthy version of coke quickly sped up the trend.

TikTokers rushed to try the recipe, posting reaction videos, mostly gagging after sipping the "Coke" concoction, which increased its popularity further. According to RealSimple the taste of "healthy Coke" is lacking any notes of cinnamon or vanilla that are present in Coke. In comments on the video, TikTok users said the drink resembles a shrub, which is an old-fashioned drink made with fruit, sugar, and an acid (usually vinegar). 

The balsamic vinegar in "healthy Coke" does actually have health benefits. It helps lower cholesterol, aids in healthy digestion, improves blood circulation, and can give you a glowing complexion (via Healthline). Although it doesn't taste like Coke, it's still a healthy alternative if you don't mind vinegar's acidity and you're not expecting it to taste like Coca-Cola.

The dangerous sleepy chicken challenge

The shocking 2022 "NyQuil chicken" or "sleepy chicken" challenge has been scrubbed from TikTok although most of the trending videos were actually reactions to a couple of videos that show people cooking chicken in a pan full of the cough and cold medication NyQuil (via Guardian). The FDA released a statement warning people against the dangerous challenge. And I think we can all agree that cooking food in NyQuil is a horrible idea, but "NyQuil chicken" actually became a true trend after the FDA issued its warning (via Buzzfeed).

The statement elicited media coverage and duetted reactions of horror, but it's unclear if the original videos were meant as real recipes or a parody. In one video, the narrator mentions that the steam can make you sleepy while using a hair straightener as tongs.

According to BuzzFeed, there were only five searches for "NyQuil chicken" on TikTok before the FDA's statement, and a week later, there were 7,000. "Sleepy chicken" isn't actually new, with origins as a meme on 4chan in 2017 (via TechCrunch). The meme hangs around like a foul smell, assaulting our nostrils every so often. 

That being said, viral challenges, real or fake, can have serious consequences, especially for younger users (via Psychology Today). TikTok challenges, including the "blackout challenge" and "Momo challenge," have resulted in injury and even death of children (via Global News). Luckily, there have been no reported deaths or illnesses from "NyQuil chicken" yet.

Sink mac and cheese

Sink mac and cheese is one TikTok hack that'll haunt you, especially the next time you attend a potluck. Content creators Janelle and Kate are to thank for the revolting dish called the "Best Mac n cheese ever", but "Cooking Crime Scene" seems more appropriate. Comments on the video have been outrage and concern over it being unsanitary; the top comment reads, "Why not use the toilet?" 

In the video, Kate dumps a pot of macaroni straight into her kitchen sink, skipping a colander. She then recklessly tosses in the fixings, including milk, various kinds of cheese, unmelted butter, and cheddar soup, and stirs. Last, she shovels the sink atrocity into a dish to bake in the oven. Why the sink if she has a dish? According to Kate, using the sink is much easier when making a big batch. She further mentions that boiling tends to get rid of any bacteria. 

Concerns about bacteria are warranted: Dr. Charles Gerba (microbiologist and professor) told Today that the sink is one of the dirtiest places in the kitchen. He goes so far as to assert that since people cut raw meat on boards, they have more fecal bacteria than a flushed toilet. Although, this could be (and is most likely) another instance of "rage-bait" to boost engagement, and it has probably worked.

Orange juice and espresso combo

Odd flavor combinations dominated TikTok in 2022, like the confusing Nutella and BBQ sauce mix and the strange Blueberry and mustard pairing (via Yahoo). People both love and hate these combos, just like the polarizing orange juice and espresso trend that pairs two acidic breakfast drinks in one. It's a popular choice to have both drinks with breakfast, just usually not together. 

Everyone's taste palate is different. Leslie J. Stein, from the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia, told WebMD that taste and food preferences are often impacted by our genes and the environment. So it makes sense that the espresso orange juice pairing could be on both the list for worst TikTok food trends and best TikTok food trends. 

The TikTok trend seems to have started with user @bundaddy, who claims that they have not people anyone who likes both espresso and orange juice but doesn't like the two drinks together. The bitter orange juice and acidic espresso blend into an intense flavor that divides opinions. 

In videos in which couples try the drink together, one partner usually likes it while the other hates it. TikTok trends may look aesthetically pleasing, but that doesn't always equate to tasting delicious, although this trend may be worth a try to see where you fall on the love/hate spectrum.

Greasy butter boards

Aesthetic serving boards piled with anything and everything have been dominating TikTok for a while now (via Wired). 2022's TikTok trending "butter board" is made by smearing globs of butter on a board and dumping spices, nuts, fruits, and whatever else you want on top. Dinner party guests then rub bread onto it, getting a little of everything before chowing down. After around 20 minutes of sitting at room temperature, it turns into an oily, dripping mess that isn't very appetizing.

The "bring a board night" is the modern equivalent of a potluck party, where friends bring a serving board covered in an assortment of themed goodies. You can let your creativity free in this trend where themes run the gamut; try a "Potato board", "Sweet and salty board", or a "fast-food board."

Food expert Shokofeh Hejazi told Wired that boards offer an easy way to host. We could all use easy cleanup and prep and less stress these days. But the "Butter board" won't provide the same relief; if you've ever tried to clean fat and oil, you'll understand.

By slathering butter into a wooden board, the butter could get into cracks in the wood, which is the perfect breeding ground for nasty microbes that you don't want in your food. The bacteria can stay and multiply inside the wooden cutting boards (via Forbes). Doesn't that sound delicious?

Kitchen appliance hacks

Anyone can post a TikTok video, so be discerning when following hacks on the app. As we know, irons, toasters, and coffee makers are handy tools, but social media users have been experimenting with their usage, getting inventive in a quest to become the next viral sensation, like popping popcorn with a clothing iron, making skinny margaritas in a coffee pot, and cooking steak toasters

If appliances are misused, they can break or sometimes explode, with more disaster than hack. So if you don't want to have to tell your neighbors that it was you that set the building ablaze trying out a TikTok, steer clear. 

In case you missed basic fire safety, don't put anything weird in your toaster, or you could end up like the New Zealand man who burned down his house while trying the viral "toaster steak." He left his steak to cook while he stepped out, only to come back to a very well-done steak and a house in flames. 

The "toaster grilled cheese" hack is another dangerous game of roulette; will it lead to a grilled cheese or a flaming toaster? In 2015, one woman's toaster exploded after trying it. The hack advised dangerously putting the toaster sideways to avoid cheese dripping.

The trend of hacking kitchen appliances is not worth the risk. Let us leave this trend in 2022.

Grated egg avocado toast

Avocado toast (the reason we don't own houses) is a much-beloved breakfast, especially if you add an egg. Avocado toast, when paired with an over-easy egg, causes its gooey center to spill out and create a medley of flavor and texture, leading to the warm, fluffy, scrambled eggs topper that pairs perfectly with the creamy avocado. But, with the "Grated egg avocado toast" trend, you just grate a cold, hard-boiled egg as your topper.

It's not an entirely new trend, but it recently blew up after @healthyishfoods shared her take on TikTok, generating millions of views. This is another divisive trend, earning it spots on both the best and worst food trends lists of 2022. It's acceptable in a pinch if you already have some boiled eggs on hand, but in reality, it takes a similar amount of time to hard boil an egg or cook it. 

In the recipe, you spread a layer of mayo and avocado onto the bread. Then, you'll use a cheese grater to grate the egg above your toast. The grating process is unfamiliar and looks stylish, but it creates a mess that is just a cold, harder version of scrambled eggs.

Chef Tway Nguyen told Huffpost that she is happy that the trend didn't last long since it doesn't demonstrate the best way to hard boil an egg. Nguyen mostly attributes the popularity of the trend to the grating of the eggs.

Recipe stealing

A heated argument over a broccoli casserole recipe led to Tiktoker @Lubalin's hilarious song, with the meme-worthy line, "Caroline, keep my name out of your thin mouth." A digital feud between two women on Facebook inspired the track: Helen was upset that Caroline stole her broccoli casserole recipe.

Jokes aside, this has been and continues to be an issue. Many influencers are desperate to go viral and take other users' work without giving credit. This isn't a recent phenomenon, but with the proliferation of TikTok, the trend it's becoming rampant. 

This also leads to cultural appropriation, which has influencers neglecting to credit the cultures their recipes originated from, instead representing them as new. This year a hack for "healthy lentil wraps" went wild, although user @Simply Suha simply calls them dosas, which are a South Asian staple.

In her video, she says that she doesn't like the fact that they are now being marketed as a health food. There was also a viral video that rebranded the Mexican drink agua fresca as "spa water" without crediting its origins (via Refinery29). 

Unfortunately, the laws regarding digital content are running behind, so you can't copyright a TikTok recipe or dance. Only certain things are protected, like music and movies (via Vox). The internet is still the wild west, and social media users have to protect each other against thieves. So as we ring in the new year, let us hold creators accountable.

Night luxe and caviar bumps

After the dark, penny-pinching times of the pandemic, people are yearning to live life to the fullest. We've seen an uptick in splurging. Consumers are opening their wallets in pursuit of opulence, much like in the roaring '20s, which were characterized by people wanting to enjoy their lives again after World War I and the 1918 flu pandemic (via Forbes). 

2022's version is the bougie "Night luxe" trend, comprising expensive taste in clothes, food, and drinks. The aesthetic is about curating your life to be more glamorous than the one you have, most likely leading to piles of credit card debt trying to emulate the lives of the ultrarich. It's understandable that people want to find pleasure in life after hard times, but this is more ostentatious pomposity.

The "Caviar bump" is a perfect wealth flex for the "Night luxe" style. Luxury caviar is one of the most expensive food products in the world. It's a type of egg (roe) that comes from sturgeon fish, which is tragically the most endangered species group on earth (via WWF). 

Caviar is typically eaten with a small spoon or on crackers, but with this trend, people slurp caviar from the back of their hands. The high-end trend's popularity has restaurants charging people for a tongue full of fish eggs and fishy residue on your hand (via The New York Times).

Living a glamorous life shouldn't have to come from over-consumption leading to the detriment of our planet.