By Kate Shackelford
It was late March of 2020. I was lying on my couch, procrastinating my history homework by scrolling through my phone yet again. At first glance, nothing seemed to be different or particularly memorable about this day in the social media realm: just more throwback posts to pre-pandemic times. As I continued droning on, I saw a picture of a freshly baked banana bread loaf on someone’s story. I scrolled past without batting an eye. The next day, I clicked on YouTube, lazily looking through recommended videos. I soon came upon a video titled, “The Best Banana Bread You’ll Ever Make in Your Life!” Weird, I thought to myself, that’s two banana bread mentions in two days. It felt odd to me that this bakery item, in particular, would come up twice in such a short span of time; banana bread did not seem to be the most popular or well-liked sweet out there. I certainly didn’t like it. After a moment of thought, I decided to pass it off as a coincidence.
To my dismay, over the next few days and then weeks, the banana bread posts, stories, recipes and videos started to pile up in my feed. It felt like everywhere I turned, there it was. I was so sick of hearing about everyone’s mushy, brown lumps of disgustingness! This was when I put on my thinking cap and began to wonder what possible explanations there could be for such a banana bread mania.
Of course, to find the correct answer to my question, I turned to Google, the most trusted source anyone could use, aside from Wikipedia. I hit search and quickly found article upon article about this new quarantine favorite. Other people were noticing the trend, too. Lots of other people. With that, my suspicions were confirmed; this was becoming a worldwide craze.
In my research, I was led to Google trends, where I typed in the words, “banana bread.” A graph popped up, depicting the increase in popularity of certain searches over time. Sure enough, this phrase had a spike in the United States from the end of March through the entirety of April. Web and YouTube searches in the US rose by 86% and 94%, consecutively. The data and articles comforted me, confirming that I was not crazy, but they did little to explain the reasons behind this baking phenomenon.
To help me come to a satisfying answer, I reached out to Lizzie Moody (12), creator of the Instagram food blog @moodysmunchies. “I think people [are] bored and trying to find anything new to do with their time. Banana bread is one of the best things to make because it is easy, and you can eat it for breakfast, snack or dessert,” said Moody.
People needed a mindless, therapeutic hobby to partake in during the long days of self-isolation, and baking turned out to be the perfect match. It is (for the most part) easy, and it reaps a very delicious reward, resulting in a sense of accomplishment. Also, everyone was panic-buying many products, which meant that some food would inevitably be left on the counter uneaten for too long. In the case of bananas, an overripe fruit is still edible. It can be incorporated into a batter and baked as… you guessed it: banana bread.
For a long time, I was quite averse to banana bread. I hated the idea of ruining a perfectly good dessert by adding fruit to it. This disgust caused me to create a bias against anyone who jumped onto the trend over the past few months. With time, though, I became more and more intrigued by the pictures and recipes I saw on social media. Now, I catch myself looking over to the bananas sitting in my kitchen, tempted to test whether or not my theorized dislike of banana bread is actually true. Stay tuned to hear about my baking and taste-testing experience.
For any banana bread lovers out there or for anyone like me who’s both curious and skeptical, here is a recipe from Chloe Foods tried and approved by Moody.
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