The Hot Trends in Obscurity for 2019
Atlas Obscura staff make their expert predictions for what’s around the corner.
Prognostication is a risky business, but it’s also a ton of fun. Just ask that Nostradamus guy. Or us! After reflecting on the highs and lows of 2018, we’ve assembled some niche trend predictions for next year. Are they heavily dependent on our individual predilections? Of course. But see if any resonate with your obscurity-chasing heart and mind.
I’m not mad, exactly, about 2018 having been the year of the hot duck and the large cow, but allow me to make the case that next year’s collective moment of shared animal appreciation has a clear contender: the Malabar giant squirrel. Ever since my colleagues first alerted me to the existence of this marvelous rodent, a native of India, I can’t stop thinking about it. Squirrels of all kinds are already adorable—some of them can even turn their bodies into airborne gliders, for Pete’s sake!—but this guy, with its exaggerated dimensions and literal technicolor dreamcoat, is entirely deserving of our devotion. I don’t care if I have to plant one in a major city park, or force one to pose next to an entire scurry of smaller, more drab squirrels. Let’s commit now to making oversized, multicolored squirrels happen in 2019, people. We can do this.
—Sommer Mathis, Editor-in-Chief
Sunsun, the New Moonmoon
2018 taught us that moons can have moons, but more importantly that people love naming these recursive places. The prospect of the Earth’s moon having a second, nested one—like a kangaroo and its joey—caused the internet universe to have a global brainstorm about what these baby moons should, theoretically, be called. Submoons, moonettes, and mini-moons are personal favorites, but in 2019, why stop there? I’m no astronomer, but it seems like next year we could be presented with a kindred discovery: the sunsun. Adults birth children, large bodies of water beget smaller bodies of water, and suns will probably spawn similar little stars. So there ya have it, sunsun is the new moonmoon and will be stealing all the shine.
—Evan Nicole Brown, Editorial Fellow
I find human mortality to be deeply unjust, and plan to fight it as long and hard as possible. That said: if I must die, I want something very cool to happen to my skeleton.
Here is about the coolest thing that can happen to your skeleton: turning it into a chandelier. A chandelier that will swing in the mansion of your wealthiest enemy? Perhaps, but a better and less resentment-infested milieu would be a bone church.
Bone churches exist. There’s a particularly grand one called Sedlec Ossuary in Kutna Hora, Czechia. It contains the bones of 40,000 departed humans, some of which are arranged into, oh yes, a magnificent chandelier. But are there enough bone churches? I think not.
In 2018 we received what felt like an endless procession of memento moris—aimed not only at our individual mortality but the collective existence of the human race. Climate change cannot be wished away. It seems we are doomed, and the doom will arrive sooner than we had scheduled.
So the time is now. We must build bone churches. They will serve as monuments to human hubris, if nothing else. And when the waters rise and our bone chandeliers sink to the ocean floor, then shall we start to fossilize, while a hidden aquatic cache of coelacanths tut-tuts and says “I told you so.”
—Ella Morton, Senior Editor
I think puddin’ is the future.
—Samir S. Patel, Deputy Editor
Petting Zoos for Fatbergs
In theory, at least, I love the idea of petting zoos and touch pools. It’s thrilling to get up close to something you’d never thought you’d see, let alone touch. But there are prickly ethical issues that chafe a little: Is it fair to subject these creatures to our ignorant poking and prodding? Are we exposing them, with each grubby little touch, to diseases that will put them at risk?
Maybe 2019 is the time to sidestep these particular moral and microbial quandaries and embrace a more straightforward solution: Let’s build some petting zoos for fatbergs.
In 2018, we’ve seen these festering masses of saponified oils, fats, and trash (so, so, so many wipes) continue to choke sewer systems in cities around the world. Sanitation departments often have to descend into the depths, break them up, and haul them to the surface.
Liberated from the pipes they blocked, fatbergs have made their way into museum vitrines and the tables of forensic scientists. My coworker Lex Berko visited a putrid little chunk when she was in London earlier this year, and I’m still pretty jealous. They’re gross! They’re cool! They record the story of what, exactly, goes on above ground—what we eat, and what we flush.
Look, I’ll bring my own gloves and promise to wash my hands afterwards. All I want for Christmas is the chance to touch a fatberg.
—Jessica Leigh Hester, Staff Writer
2019 will be the year we finally have zoos full of slowly melting pudding animals. That you can touch. And also eat, I guess. Commemorative spoons will be available at the gift shop. You can get a cheap plastic one for like, $5, but you should pony up for the Deluxe Pewter Tasting Chariot, which is the largest spoon on offer. It’s about the size of your average soup ladle and is inset with an enamel-sealed cameo of the New Dorp Pudding Zoo’s founder, Travis.
—Eric Grundhauser, Community Editor
Cheese in Unexpected Places
For me, 2018 was the year I learned that cheese can lurk in some surprising places. In northern Scandinavia, cubes of dried, rich juustoleipä bob in mugs of coffee to form kaffeost. Meanwhile, in Puebla, Mexico, a small cantina slings shots of raisin liqueur that come with a goat cheese chaser. From China’s cheese tea craze to Yorkshire’s holiday pairing of Christmas cake with a slice of Wensleydale, cheese sneaks into all kinds of dishes and drinks. While some of these pairings are polarizing, they also have extremely loyal fanbases. That’s why I think 2019 will be the year that will make you question everything you know about cheese and where to find it. Cheesy candy? Cheesy pudding to appease Samir? The options are endless. Bring it on.
—Sam O’Brien, Foods Editor
The time of the bog is nigh, and this time, it shan’t be defeated.
—Lex Berko, Associate Editor
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