‘Sex and the City’ Resulted in 2 Massive Food Trends

The long-running HBO series Sex and the City broke a lot of barriers on television. The series, starring Sarah Jessica Parker, dealt with a lot of subjects that had been taboo on TV up to that point, including sexual intimacy, the plight of working mothers, bisexuality, and familial estrangement.

Sex and the City also featured a lot of glossier topics, all set against the sleek, fabulous backdrop of New York City. To this day, fans of the series who sip a fruity cosmopolitan beverage or pick up a frosting-topped cupcake are paying homage to Sex and the City — even if they might not realize it. 

What was ‘Sex and the City’ about?

Sarah Jessica Parker, Cynthia Nixon, Kristin Davis And Kim Cattrall pose together at The Uk Film Premiere Of 'Sex And The City 2'
Sarah Jessica Parker, Cynthia Nixon, Kristin Davis, and Kim Cattrall | Antony Jones/UK Press via Getty Images

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Sex and the City is based on the popular 1997 book by Candace Bushnell. The series follows the exploits of Carrie Bradshaw, a New York City-based writer, and her group of friends, including the sexually liberated Samantha Jones, the acerbic lawyer, Miranda Hobbes, and prim and proper Charlotte York. Together, the friends navigate the often-tricky waters of dating and romance in the big city, all while juggling their careers.

Sex and the City became wildly popular with fans, many of whom recognized elements of themselves in various characters. Nothing quite like the series had ever been on television before, and ultimately, it ran on HBO until 2004, spawning a media empire that is still going strong to this day. While one of the most enduring legacies of Sex and the City is undoubtedly the influence on fashion, the show also inadvertently spawned two outrageous food trends – including a nationwide obsession with a particular cocktail. 

How are cosmopolitans made?

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In many scenes throughout the run of Sex and the City, Carrie, Samantha, Miranda, and Charlotte could be seen sipping cosmopolitan at trendy New York City bars. The show has often been credited for making this beverage trendy.

“I don’t know if there’s any other drink or even food that I could think of that is so closely associated with a show,” Jennifer Keishin Armstrong, author Sex and the City and Us, told Refinery29. “I think whatever you think of as the caricature of SATC, the Cosmo goes with it.”

Cosmopolitans — often referred to as “cosmos” — are light, refreshing cocktails that are made by combining orange liqueur, lime juice, vodka, and cranberry juice. Served in delicate, long-stemmed glasses, and featuring just enough of a “kick,” cosmopolitans have come to define civilized culture, and are the drink of choice for many friends out on the town – thanks in large part to Sex and the City

Armstrong told Insider that prior to the debut of the HBO series, cosmopolitans had often been seen as a “niche” drink, generally unattainable by the masses, but that changed drastically once fans saw the heroines in Sex and the City guzzling the beverage on their evenings out.

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The cosmopolitan isn’t the only food trend that Sex and the City helped launch. One infamous scene in the series featured Carrie noshing on a cupcake — and the scene instantly caused a reaction in pop culture fans.

AMNY reported about the cupcake craze:

Although the craze has since died down a bit in the U.S., the trend had its moment as a worldwide phenomenon in the aughts, and many assign the credit to Magnolia. Its brief appearance on “Sex and the City” not only sparked lines around the bakery, but competing cupcake bakeries around New York and the globe, Matthews said. “Guests on the tour have told me that they now have cupcake shops wherever they’re from, and they don’t even have a word for ‘cupcake.’

“It’s not like cupcakes didn’t exist before ‘Sex and the City,’ but they became a thing for adults because of ‘Sex and the City,’” said Matthews, who appreciates Carrie’s healthy appetite on the show.

According to Armstrong, “there was a worldwide cupcake phenomenon that only recently waned. Everyone in the cupcake business said this. It was one scene in one episode, but it created this buzz.”

It seemed as though everyone wanted to experience what Carrie Bradshaw and her friends did, whether it be sipping cosmos, chowing down on delicious cupcakes, or shopping for designer footwear.