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2016's Top Trends: Pokémon, Red Lobster, and Dim Sum — What Will Reign In 2017?

What do Red Lobster, Donald Trump, Pokemon, and rolled ice cream have in common? They were among the biggest trends of 2016.
Image: Beyonce
Beyonce performs during the Formation World Tour at Ford Field on Tuesday, June 14, 2016, in Detroit.Daniela Vesco / AP

What do Red Lobster, Donald Trump, Pokemon, and rolled ice cream have in common? They were among the biggest trends of 2016, according to Foursquare's findings.

The local intelligence company just published its 2016 survey of What America Ate, Drank, and Saw, using data aggregated from its two apps, Foursquare City Guide and Foursquare Swarm.

The report breaks down 2016 by month, showing which products, retailers, events, and even sports teams were top of consumer mind at that time.

Cuba Travel Spikes, Slump In Trump, and Pokemon Go, Go, Go

"There were several major news events that changed how people moved through the world this year," said Sarah Spagnolo, editor at large at Foursquare.

"From eased travel restrictions to Cuba, which resulted in a 144 percent increase in visits, to a presidential campaign that had ramifications for business to Trump-branded properties."

Foursquare found that in November, business affiliated with Trump's branded properties was down by 12 percent.

And of course, who could look back on 2016 and not recall one of the biggest mobile gaming phenomenons ever: "Pokemon Go." When the game launched in July, parks across the U.S. saw visitations increase by as much as 37 percent over last year.

Sports Bars, Red Lobster, and 'Frosé'

Given that the Chicago Cubs made — and won — the World Series for the first time in over a century, it makes sense that in October, visits to sports bars were up by 23 percent.

Less anticipated by Foursquare was the surge in interest in Red Lobster, a consumer trend that was inspired by Beyoncé's mention of the seafood chain in her mega-hit, "Formation."

"We surely didn't expect that Beyoncé’s Super Bowl performance would lead to an uptick in visits to Red Lobster, but the data proves it happened," said Spagnolo. The chain saw a 31 percent increase in foot traffic in the days following the singer's halftime show.

Also enjoying a surge in consumer love were hip new food and drink items including rolled ice cream in May, and "Frosé" (a rosé wine slushie) in June; while exotic cuisines such as Filipino and Mediterranean cuisine saw a boost in January, and Dim Sum stole our palates in October.

2017 Predictions: Veganism and Virtual Reality

According to the Chinese Zodiac, 2017 is the Year of the Rooster, but Foursquare predicts that 2017 will actually be the Year of the Noodle.

"Start slurping. We predict that 2017 will be the year of the noodle, with new ramen and soba spots opening up across the U.S.," Spagnolo told NBC News, adding that interest in Greek yogurt will likely start to die down, while the obsession with rolled ice cream will pick up again next summer.

Another foodie interest that is gaining traction, and will likely continue through 2017 is veganism.

"According to Google, searches for the term “vegan” increased by 33 percent just in the past year alone," said Ben Williamson, senior international media director, PETA.

Rebecca Silliman, head of communications at Instacart, which just released its 2016 Food Trends Report, noted that dairy alternatives surged in popularity in 2016, and should power through 2017.

"Searches for the term "non-dairy" were up 222 percent, while searches for "non-dairy ice cream" and "dairy-free creamer" were up 228 percent and 213 percent, respectively. Coconut, soy, and almond milks are all having a moment, and are in everything from yogurt to ice cream to creamer," Silliman said.

And while it may not appeal to our appetites, virtual reality certainly appeals to our brains, and gaming experiences similar to "Pokemon Go" are expected to take off in 2017.

"The argument for what is reality will really intensify in 2017, said Brent Shelton, online shopping expert at FatWallet. "Video gaming truly meets up with virtual reality, which opens the door for full scale VR TV programming, advertising and — dare one say — full blown social experiences where VR users are being put in the same virtual space as their friends and acquaintances, who could be miles and miles away."