There were frenzies for frozen yogurt, there were crazes for cupcakes, and now, there is…avidity for acai bowls? With an increase in local acai bowl vendors, such as Barefoot Bowls and Nekter, it certainly seems as though acai bowls have surfaced as an upcoming food trend in recent years. Even Google concurs: according to the Franchise Development Company, the frequency of the Google search term “acai bowl” quadrupled in 2013 from 2012.
What are acai bowls? Acai is a berry grown in Central and South America, specifically in Brazil and Peru; however, it is starting to be grown in Hawaii. It is known to be full of antioxidants, minerals, lean fats and vitamins. Acai bowls consist of a bottom layer of a blended acai berries and some other fruits, a middle layer of granola and a top layer of fresh, cut fruit.
What makes them so appealing? The Huffington Post compares acai bowls to a healthy bowl of ice cream; similarly, Kyla Pickell (Jr.) says it is because “they taste good and they are generally a healthier option. They do have a high calorie content and a high sugar content but they are still better than French fries. The granola is what really makes a good bowl, and adding raw strawberries, blue berries and bananas on top makes it even better.”
But is the rise of the acai bowl due only to its healthiness? Probably not. After all, there are many healthy and delicious edible options, yet they never seem to garner attention like acai bowls do. For example, according to the Robeks website, smoothie industry sales have doubled since 2007, but that number is insignificant compared to the increase in acai bowl sales, and smoothies have been around for quite a long time. It appears that there are more contributors to acai bowls’ popularity than healthiness; perhaps, it is due to the contemporary social media culture.
Today, most teenagers are more than well accustomed with social media. We have Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr and Reddit, all perfect for posting pictures. It is common practice for us to post pictures of our food, especially when our food looks aesthetically pleasing. The fruits in acai bowls have bright vibrant colors, and are usually arranged in nice, organized clumps by type, all pieces sliced the same way. On top of that, they are typically held in a simple, clean-looking container, usually circular in shape, and what shape is more appealing than a circle, perfectly symmetric no matter how it is dissected? Furthermore, a study from the University of Southern California found that commonly seeing pictures of food online stimulates the brain, causing viewers to eat more. Such a study suggests there is a direct correlation between the number of food pictures posted and how likely people are to consume the food. That study also takes into account peer influence: if one person posts a picture of an acai bowl and his or her followers see it and go try one for themselves, a chain reaction begins. The followers post their own pictures and the popularity of the product quickly and easily increases.
Most of us who have consumed acai bowls have noticed acai seeds stuck in our teeth at some point. What we did not notice were the vivid images of them stuck in our mind, telling us to eat more.
By CHRISTINE SMET