Cloud Bread is at the crossroads of the many trends that mark our current moment. It's a TikTok trend, it's a Gen Z trend, and it's a bread trend. At the forefront of this trend's newfound virality is 20-year-old UC Berkeley student Abigail Hwang-Nable, also known as @abimhn on TikTok. Her Cloud Bread video is, by far, her most popular one to date. "Right now it's at 20 million views. That's insane," Hwang-Nabel told Refinery29. "Before that my most-viewed video was only 1.6 million."
She posted the video last Thursday, the day before Trump confirmed he had his heart set on banning TikTok. But that didn't stop Cloud Bread from going viral. Within the hour, it had 1,600 likes. Two hours later, it climbed up to half-a-million. At the four hour mark, it hit 3 million likes. "I don't even know how or why it intrigued people," Hwang-Nabel said, adding that part of it might've been that people were mad she was calling it Cloud Bread instead of meringue.
But Cloud Bread is not her term to coin, nor does she claim it. She first came across the recipe in a video by @linqanaa. Then, her best friend showed her another video. Hwang-Nabel decided to make the recipe her own by adding blue colouring, "because blue reminds me of clouds. I tried doing pink and blue ones but it didn't work very well."
So far, the bread trends of quarantine have been largely millennial — it's the ambitious baking project of a gifted child that grew into an average adult or a restless person trying to "make the most" out of a shelter in place order. They require yeast or starter, a garden of vegetables, kneading, and time to rise. It's a challenging and almost self-punishing affair that peaks with a sleepy Instagram post. What at first started as an exercise in making something out of what's available has turned into a labor-intensive hobby that signifies one success or failure to adapt to quarantine.
Cloud bread is different. No kneading or science project starter required. All you need is sugar, flour, and cornstarch. Like Dalgona coffee, it's a highly adaptable three-ingredient recipe that recalls the ephemeral beauty of clouds. It dissolves like cotton candy and hardly holds its fluff long enough to take a picture. It's an on-the-nose trend that offers an even more obvious lesson for this moment in internet history: it's fun and sweet, but it only lasts a moment.