Trends: S'mores Replaces Birthday Cake


By Molly Freeman

Photo courtesy of Heather Katsoulis.

Like everything else in culture, the food industry experiences the coming and going of certain trends. Last summer, the closing of many Crumbs Bake Shop locations seemed to indicate the official end of the gourmet cupcake trend that was popular throughout the mid 2010s.

Another area of the food industry that can’t escape new trends, but can be a bit more fun–and isn’t likely to cause any artisanal shops to go out of business–is artificial flavoring. With every fall comes the onslaught of pumpkin spice-flavored items, such as the Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte (or, PSL for short).

However, it seems that there are certain flavors that surpass any seasonal boundaries, even if they may have been introduced to coincide with certain holidays or times of the year.

In 2013, the birthday cake flavor hit its pinnacle of popularity. It was everywhere, including in the more logical treats like ice cream and cookies, to the more out there products like vodka, toothpaste, and protein powder. Birthday cake flavored drinks and other products seemed to appeal not only to children but nostalgic adults as well.

While many of these cake-y treats–plus others–can still be found on shelves and in stores, it’s perhaps safe to say that fans of artificial flavoring have moved on from their birthday cake obsession. But that leaves the question: what is the current artificial flavor trend?

Salted caramel and red velvet have seen major upswings in popularity in recent years. The salted caramel flavor can be found on chips, donuts, and popcorn, while the scent can be smelled in a candle from Bath & Body Works. Meanwhile, this past winter saw a boom in red velvet flavored lattes, protein powder, and wine. Although it’s unclear if this trend was meant to tie in with Christmas, Valentine’s Day, or to transcend the wintry months entirely.

That all being said, it seems s’mores are making a big splash this summer. Like previous artificial flavor trends such as red velvet, the dessert on which it’s based first made a comeback. Now, it seems the graham cracker, chocolate, and marshmallow flavoring has officially hit trend status.

Photo courtesy of Mike Mozart.

This spring, Krispy Kreme introduced a S’mores Doughnut and Oreo released their own campfire treat-inspired cookie (that many online have termed “s’moreos”). Additionally, Starbucks debuted two s’mores flavored items, a Frappuccino and a toasted tart. Meanwhile, other companies have adapted the flavor for icing and brownie desserts.

Although you can’t find s’mores toothpaste or lotion made to smell like the campfire treat, it may only be a matter of time. If the artificial flavoring trends of years past are any indication, these products could be just around the corner.

That is, of course, if s’mores truly hits the flavor trend status achieved by birthday cake, salted caramel, and red velvet. However, since Krispy Kreme, Oreos, and Starbucks do seem to always tap into the biggest flavor trends–or they act as the launching pad for such fads–it seems likely s’mores will join the other popular tastes of years past.