The

And the beginning of even better food trends.

I love researching food trends and trying to ascertain what makes something become a trend, rather than just a fleeting one-hit wonder in the culinary world.

Mason Jar Meals: GW Bites offers Meals in a Jar, which contain the pre-portioned ingredients for specific recipes. There is another kind of Meal in a Jar, which entails serving prepared meals in Mason jars. Check it out on thekitchn.com.

Bento Boxes: A bento box is a “compact, balanced, visually appealing meal packed in a box.” Native to Japan, this form of meal packing has become trendy and hip in the United States. In fact, it is viewed as an art form and source of pride by many! Check it out on lunchinabox.net and justbento.com.

photo credit: themeatloafbakery.com

Meatloaf Cupcakes/Muffins: A fresh spin on sweet cupcakes, these bite-sized creations are savory, unique, and nutritionally balanced. Check it out on The Meatloaf Bakery, buy Trader Joe’s Turkey Meatloaf Muffins, or make your own with a recipe from For the Love of Cooking.

Salted Caramel: Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate from Starbucks. Salted Caramel Brownie Cookies from Kitchenist.com. Maple-Gingerbread Layer Cake with Salted Maple-Caramel Sauce from Epicurious.com

Love trend-following too? Check out Springwise, Trendspotting, & Design Sponge Online, and 2011′s Hottest Food Trends.

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+Cristina Roman