A recent article in NBC New York (Salmon Rice Bowls and Feta Pasta? TikTok Makes Simple Recipes Go Viral) reminds us of the power of social media platforms like TikTok to fuel pandemic-driven consumer interests in home cooking while also building digital community.
As we noted previously on the TikTok effect and the #fetapasta trend (which has now grown, apparently, to over 957 million views), particularly at the early stages of the pandemic quarantine, TikTok was filled with viral food recipes that gained millions of views and inspired consumers to experiment with recipes for whipped coffee, pancake cereal, and baked feta pasta.
Per the NBC New York article, easy yet delicious recipes tend to gain views and likes quickly because they are attainable by the average person. Once something goes viral and moves to the “For You” section, users are more likely to see even more videos related to the original content.
This month’s super viral recipe is a salmon rice bowl, with a hashtag that has 17.4 million views. Like the feta pasta phenomenon, the salmon bowl features very few ingredients. It is also gluten- and dairy-free and does not involve red meat or poultry, so it’s dietary restriction-friendly.
Hartman Group Insights:
One of our most popular podcasts, Going Viral: The Evolving Nature of Social Media and Food Culture. Hello TikTok!, features a discussion about how, for consumers today, social media platforms are often a go-to resource for inspiration, information, and entertainment when it comes to food on a day-to-day basis. But social media is increasingly not only a resource for consumers but an active player in its own way in terms of propelling food culture into fads and trends. 
As a significant source of inspiration, social media has also become a site for consumers to play, participate in, and influence food culture. Although the influence of media on food trends is not new, the speed, reach, accessibility, and ephemerality of social media platforms such as Instagram and TikTok represent important shifts in how food culture develops and is consumed.
While on the face of it these may seem like short-lived, ever-changing fads, they have broader effects, from privileging the experiential and aesthetic dimensions of food and cooking and accelerating the circulation of (often decontextualized) trends from other cultures to driving demand for particular ingredients and changing how food companies market their products and connect with consumers. 
Our study currently fielding, At the Dining Table: American Meals and Cooking 2021, explores the full spectrum of meal approaches consumers are using today, including the thought processes of culinary planning, sourcing, and preparation, tools used, and the constraints consumers face in trying to achieve the meals they desire.
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