The Most Overrated Foods in America

These are the foods that you'd call overrated. So what makes a food item overrated, exactly? Hype, for one.
01/14/2014 01:16 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

On the whole, humans love having things to get really excited about. Because what else is there to make life interesting if not for things to get excited about? And for a certain segment of the population, few things are more exciting than food. But for the past decade or so, certain foods have become so hyped up and generally accepted to be exciting that we've lost all sight of the fact that, at least according to us, they really aren't that great. We've rounded up 15 foods that we consider to be overrated.

When you think about it, there are very few foods that you'd consider to be "neutral," ones that make you feel neither excited nor bored, and just sort of are what they are. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, perhaps, or chicken soup. On the extreme ends of the spectrum, there are the foods that really excite us, like a perfect burger or a whole steamed lobster, and the ones that are boring enough to drive us to tears, like a plain can of tuna or dry white toast. For the most part these roles are rather cut and dry, but lurking in the shadows are the frauds: the foods masquerading as hot and exciting, but that in reality are nothing of the sort. These are the foods that you'd call overrated.

So what makes a food item overrated, exactly? Hype, for one. If you wait in line for an hour for one of the hottest food items on the planet, the taste of the food is almost beside the point. If "everybody's eating it," that's another great way for a food to become overrated. Certain foods enter the zeitgeist, and folks jump on the bandwagon without realizing that there are other, tastier alternatives. Another way to become overrated? Simply enter the culinary lexicon over the years and establish yourself as being delicious and indispensable at parties, social gatherings, or on menus. It becomes so well-established that we lose sight of the fact that it's just not very tasty.

So the next time you're scanning a menu, or mindlessly munching away on something at a party, ask yourself: "Why is this being served? Is it because it's good, or because it's trendy?" The answer might surprise you. There are certain foods out there that are timelessly delicious , and will always be culinary gold. There are other foods that will always be boring and dull. But there are also plenty of wolves in sheep's clothing (sheep in wolves' clothing? I'm mixing my metaphors) that are pretending to be exciting and delicious that simply aren't. Read on for 15 of them, and never be fooled again.

Filet mignon. Photo Credit: iStockPhoto/ Thinkstock

The name is French and it's pretty to look at, but in reality the tenderloin is one of the most tasteless cuts of meat on a steer. Just because you can cut it with a spoon doesn't mean it's a great steak; try a blind taste test between a filet and a New York strip and let us know which one tastes better.

Quinoa. Photo Credit: iStockPhoto/ Thinkstock

Quinoa, quinoa everywhere! This grain has been turning up in everything from salads to veggie burgers to beer, making it one of the trendiest foods of the past decade. But folks: it's just a grain. There are hundreds of healthy grains out there; choose one that isn't destroying the Bolivian economy.

Cronut. Photo Credit: ᅡᄅ Flickr /Phil Nolan

Yes, we're going to come right out and say it: the Cronut, pastry chef Dominique Ansel's creation that became the "it" food of 2013 and still has folks lining up for hours every morning, is overrated. Really, how could it not be? It's just a pastry. Deep-frying rings of croissant dough is a novel idea, yes, and it tastes like a good pastry should. But it's not worth lining up for. Over time people might come to this realization, and the Cronut will recede to the culinary sidelines. Until then? Well, remember that it's just a pastry.

Chicken Breast. Photo Credit: iStockPhoto/ Thinkstock

The boneless, skinless chicken breast rules the culinary landscape. You'll find them in salads, on sandwiches, gussied up with lemon and herbs, and sold for $24 (with a side of quinoa and roasted beets)... everywhere you turn. While this may speak for its versatility, it says nothing about its flavor, which is essentially nonexistent. Dark-meat chicken has a reputation for being more fattening, and it is; what they don't tell you is that dark meat is loaded with taurine, which fights against heart disease, lowers blood pressure and cholesterol, and protects against diabetes. As long as you don't eat the skin (which is loaded with saturated fat), don't fear the dark meat.

Kale. Photo Credit: iStockPhoto/ Thinkstock

Wherever you go, there is kale. It's in your salad (seriously, show me a restaurant that doesn't serve a kale salad), it's being dehydrated and being sold as snack chips, it's being blended into smoothies, turning up in soups... it seems like people have forgotten that it's just a cruciferous green, like collards, cabbage, and bok choy. Yes, it has lots of nutritional value, but it's nearly impossible to digest, it needs to be tenderized before it can be eaten (and cooking leeches out a lot of the nutrition), and -- one important factor people seem to be missing -- it doesn't taste very good. So instead of freaking out about kale, just make sure that you eat some leafy greens once in a while.

-Dan Myers, The Daily Meal

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