Why is everyone dining like it’s 1994?
Time is a flat circle and, for better or for worse, pesto is once again dominating menus, our hearts, and our stomachs. For Eater, Jaya Saxena muses about ’90s cuisine—think orzo, goat-cheese salads and poached pears—and how it is flooding the current zeitgeist alongside low-cut jeans and a slew of TV reboots. Two distinct currents have converged to birth this culinary revival: There’s the fact that those who grew up in the decade are leaning into the psychic balm of nostalgia for baked Brie and Dunkaroos as they stare down achy joints and the impossibility of promised homeownership in the aftermath of a second recession. Meanwhile, Zoomers who never enjoyed a bagel with sun-dried tomato cream cheese pre-9/11 are now reveling in TikTok videos dedicated to the appreciation of Clinton-era novelties like Lunchables and Toaster Strudels. Brands are also getting in on this sudden hunger for late 20th-century culture, with throwback logo redesigns and the return of the Viennetta ice cream cake (bartenders, on the other hand, are taking a stand against the espresso martini, 2021’s hottest drink and an absolute pain to make—literally, in some cases). Still, Saxena warns, enjoy this culinary resurgence while it lasts: “In a few years, it’ll inevitably be back to bacon and cupcakes.”