Poor, ordinary, white salt. It's rapidly disappearing from restaurant tables, and Bloomberg has some theories as to why. For starters, old-fashioned iodized salt has increasingly been replaced by exotic seasonings, a trend that makes the simple salt shaker a thing of the past. "The days of those nasty little salt shakers with the ancient grains of rice are long gone," Josh Capon of Bowery Meat Co. tells Bloomberg. The rise of the celebrity chef has also hurt, with chefs feeling protective of their carefully crafted dishes made with the best ingredients. For some restaurants, it's just a matter of simplifying the table. Salt shakers clutter things up, particularly if there are many shared dishes and small plates.
Plain table salt has also been muscled aside by sexy designer rivals, such as pink Himalayan salt. The exotic pink crystals, often mined in Pakistan, get their color from trace minerals, like magnesium, potassium, and calcium, which look nice in a grinder but aren’t any healthier, reports Time. Some upscale restaurants are offering exotic salts in grinders, or better still, little bowls, but the little bowls are problematic because they have to be replaced after each customer to avoid transmitting germs. "You’re not going to keep salt on the table that someone you don't know touched," says one restaurant owner. "That's gross." Another problem with the little bowls is that they tend to mysteriously vanish when the customer leaves. "People like small things," observes Capon. (Read more salt stories.)