July 6th, 2020

June 2020 National Menu Trends

Posted in Food Trends, Restaurants

National Menus See BBQ and Heat for the Win

June 2020 Menu Trends

June 2020 has seen a massive amount of new menu item rollouts, but there were two stand out trends: BBQ and heat.

Across the board, the sweet and smoky comfort of BBQ along with the rich complexity of spicy new flavors are holding strong in popularity. This makes sense as we’ve seen a large rise in the presence comfort foods and Mexican cuisine on menus since the pandemic has kept consumers home.

So, let’s check out the innovative items that just hit and how you might be able to capitalize on these trends.

June 2020 New Menu Items

Carl’s Jr. & Hardee’s

New Menu Trends June 2020

Photo courtesy of carlsjr.com

The burger masters at Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s decided to go for broke with a duo of new burgers. The Spicy Western Bacon Cheeseburger features smoky BBQ sauce, jalapeno peppers, crispy onion rings, and creamy pepper Jack cheese with a pile of savory bacon. Its sister sandwich, the Beyond Spicy BBQ Cheeseburger, is a meatless Beyond Burger patty with jalapeno peppers, crispy onion rings, and pepper Jack cheese slathered in tangy BBQ sauce. You can’t go wrong either way.

Moe’s Southwest Grill

Moes BBQ Burrito

Photo courtesy of moes.com

Now, you wouldn’t normally think Moe’s when it comes to BBQ, but indeed that’s what they’ve done. They’re now offering a Barbecue (yes, fully spelled out) Burrito and Bowl to satisfy your cravings. Featuring seasoned rice, pinto beans, your choice of protein, savory barbecue sauce, and a tangy Southwest slaw. Hurry to get one soon, they’ll only be available until July 13th.

Roy Rogers

June Menu Trends

Photocourtesy of royrogersrestaurants.com

The culinary team over at Roy Rogers are hitting the spicy trend hard with their new Dynamite Burger. This quarter-pound bacon cheeseburger serves up layers of heat with crispy jalapeno poppers, creamy pepper Jack cheese, and a smoky chipotle ranch on a fluffy Kaiser roll. Think you can handle the heat?

Tropical Smoothie Café

BBQ Trends

Photo courtesy of tropicalsmoothiecafe.com

The folks over at Tropical Smoothie Café want to make sure you know they’re about more than just smoothies. To prove it, they’ve launched a smoky BBQ Pork Quesadilla. Stuffed with barbecue glazed pork, queso blanco, Cheddar, smoked cheese blend, pineapple salsa, and pickled jalapenos, it finds the right balance of sweet, hot, and smoky.

Velvet Taco

Velvet Taco seems to always end up on these lists. It’s no surprise really, they’re known for their bold flavors and experimentation. Which brings us to the new Nashville Chicken and Waffle taco. It features crispy fried chicken tenders tossed in a fiery Nashville hot sauce and amped up with peppered bacon, peppercorn gravy, green apple slaw, maple syrup, and a smoky red chile aioli all stuffed in a crinkly waffle tortilla.

Can You Feel the Heat?

Good! Make sure you’re keeping on trend with bold, smoky, and spicy flavors to keep your guests ordering over and over again. Now, I think I’ll be going to order one of each of these new June 2020 National Menu Trends.

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June 15th, 2020

Could Outdoor Dining Help Bring Back Restaurants?

Posted in Restaurants, Tips

Patios, Sidewalks, and Streets Become Dining Rooms as Restaurants Restart

Outdoor Dining

As restaurants nationwide begin to open their doors again (with limited capacity), creative owners are asking if outdoor dining might be a solution, or part of a solution, for how to restart on premise dining.

Many factors come into play here, but initial prospects are positive. Let’s see what we need to make outdoor dining a boost for restaurants and how it can be done safely.

Outdoor Dining in Response to Coronavirus

Government

How To Outdoor Dining

The first step in getting diners outside is getting enough space to allow diners to eat while maintaining distance. Restaurants and government bodies have been working diligently in cities around the U.S. to loosen restrictions on outdoor dining.

The focus is on freeing up sidewalk spaces, common spaces, green-ways, and even streets in some circumstances, to become outdoor dining rooms. In San Francisco, Mayor Breed has released the “Shared Spaces” act which goes into effect on June 15th, allowing restaurants to set up tables in parks, on sidewalks, and in plazas.

Chicago is taking this one step further by looking at specific neighborhoods that could be shut down to traffic and turned into large outdoor dining centers. Denver is extending the common walkways in places like 16th Street Mall to allow for more tables than just the designated patios. Ideas like this, when combined, could be enough to get some restaurants back to capacity.

Creative Spaces

Drive-In Restaurants

Other restaurants and cities are finding even more creative ways to create safe dining spaces. BJs Restaurant and Bar in Mingus, TX turned their parking lot into an outdoor movie theater and is providing their full menu for diners to enjoy in the comfort of their own vehicles. They’re able to serve up to 40 vehicles a time during screenings.

Weather

Outdoor dining areas

Weather is the always unpredictable factor in outdoor dining, and restaurants aren’t blind to this. Many have invested in over-sized umbrellas, tents, and other physical barriers to keep folks outside and comfortable.

In Amsterdam, Mediamatic Eten restaurant went as far as building personal outdoor greenhouses for their guests. While they might not be feasible for every restaurant, it certainly is a creative solution!

Safety

Restaurant Diner Safety

Finally, and most importantly, restaurants will still need to address how to keep people safe during their dining experience. Most venues still require masks to be worn when not actively eating or drinking. Outdoor sanitation stations have been implemented for customers to cleanse their hands without needing to crowd inside.

Restaurants will also still have to balance the need to have enough guests in seats to cover costs, while ensuring necessary social distancing. Luckily, outdoor spaces allow for more creativity in table designs.

And finally, the issue of restrooms. It will still be important that people do not congregate, so a rush for the lavatory could spell disaster. Therefore, servers may need to alert customers when the restrooms are free, require outdoor lines to enter, or other, more creative solutions, like text requests or pagers.

Ready to Dine Outside?

I know I am. So, use these ideas to create safe spaces for your diners. I know they’re just as excited to see you as you are to see them. And don’t forget to check out our Food Trends During Coronavirus blog for more on what diners are craving.

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June 1st, 2020

Food Trends During Coronavirus

Posted in Consumer Trends, Culinary Conferences, Food Trends

How Has COVID-19 Changed Food Trends?

Food Trends During Coronavirus

Food trends during the coronavirus pandemic have, as you might imagine, changed from what earlier predictions may have expected. Isolation and self-preparation of foods has left consumers yearning for comfort and portability over experimentation and presentation.

During a recent RCA PoweredUp session, Mike Kostyo of Datassential discussed this very topic. By monitoring menu and retail trends from over 100,00 national sources, he showcased what consumers are really craving during this time.

Let’s look at some of the top trends highlighted.

Coronavirus Food Trends

Plant-Based Foods

Plant Based Food Trends

2019 marked a major up-tick in plant-based food representation on menus nationally, going from 14% in 2018 to 56% in 2019. Meat sales from April 12 to May 9, 2020 were 28 percent higher than in the four weeks ending Jan. 18, 2020 according to data from Nielsen. Plant-based meat substitutes, had a jump of 35 percent in sales during the same period. The increase for uncooked products was more dramatic: 53 percent for the vegan products versus 34 percent for meat.

Environmental concerns among consumers are also a driver for this trend. In fact, 21% of consumers are interested in plant-based foods for the environmental impact alone. Generation Z is undoubtedly the leader in plant-based food interest, with 64% of Gen. Zs having tried it and 1 in 5 saying they love it. So, if your target audience is comprised of Gen. Z, you should be considering plant-based options on your menus ASAP!

Mexican Food

COVID-19 Food Trends

Whether it’s the bottomless chips and salsa, the energetic social nature of Mexican restaurants, or the ice-cold citrus margaritas, Mexican food leads the pack for the most craved foods during COVID-19.

The tough part with most Mexican foods is portability. The crispy, crunchy tacos and tostadas tend to lose their texture, smothered burritos get a bit soggy, and fajitas just don’t have quite the same flair without the sizzle platter.

Many Mexican restaurants have overcome these limitations by providing deconstructed to go kits, creative to-go packaging with moisture vents, and limited menus to ensure what they are selling travels well. As Mexican restaurants continue to learn how to overcome these limitations (to-go margaritas certainly help!), you can expect this trend to strengthen and cross into other platforms, like pizza and burgers.

Pizza

Pizza Popularity during COVID-19

Most experts expected pizza to be a top trend prior to coronavirus and it looks like they were right. Cravings for pizza have not decreased during the pandemic. In fact, according to QSR magazine, in March the pizza segment of restaurants showed the smallest losses (8%) but were already starting to level off again.

There are many reasons for this. First and foremost, pizza is still the most popular food in America. Additionally, pizza has high value, has been available to bake at home for years, and is essentially designed for delivery, so there was no consumer hurdle to get over when dine-in options closed.

Pizza companies have further increased interest in their products by offering plant-based options, family meal deals, and efficient contactless order and delivery methods.

BBQ

BBQ trends

BBQ, the classic backyard event, and the All-American outdoor activity. Couple that with the warm summer weather and nostalgia for simpler times and it’s no wonder BBQ ranks high on the current trends list. Like meatloaf and apple pie, BBQ is a classic American comfort food.

Restaurants can easily incorporate BBQ items on their menus. Brisket tacos, pulled-pork pizza, and short-rib sandwiches are all crave-worthy inclusions that consumers will love. Plus, BBQ is extremely portable and loses very little quality in transport.

So, get those smokers rolling, the people want ribs!

Is Your Menu Adapting?

We hope so. Check out previous blogs to see what other trends we’ve seen and how restaurants nationally are responding. Chime in below with your thoughts on what’s trending how to attract customers. We love your feedback.

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May 18th, 2020

May is for Meat

Posted in Food Trends, Restaurants

May is for Meat

Think Meat This May

Why Meat for May? Good question, with a trio of great answers.

Meat, Meet May!

1. Coronavirus Relaxation

Meat Food Trend May 2020

Firstly, Coronavirus restrictions are beginning to lift this month. While some cities have already opened a smattering of retail businesses, others aren’t far behind. And while dining rooms may not yet be open, people will be headed back to work and will be looking for satisfying meals to bring home after a long day.

This is where your restaurant and meat come into play. With some markets and grocery stores running into shortages on meat, restaurants can fill the gap and offer diners what they simply can’t find in stores. And with the prevalence of family meals and relaxed policies allowing restaurants to sell foods and ingredients retail, it’s a golden opportunity.

Even Texas Roadhouse is currently selling ready-to-cook steaks with seasonings, sauces, and cooking instructions. Not a bad idea!

2. May is National BBQ Month

May National BBQ Month

Secondly, May just happens to be National BBQ Month! Yea, that’s a real thing! And Americans are renown for jumping on a national food trend. Plus, it’s no secret that BBQ and smoke flavors have been trending for some time now. Therefore, May is the perfect chance to capitalize on the style.

Dallas-based Dickey’s BBQ Pit is going all in on National BBQ Month with a six-pack of new sandwich options all customizable with sauce favorites. Items include a Kickin’ Buffalo Chicken Sandwich, a Carolina Style Pulled Pork Sandwich, and the Wild Westerner, loaded with hickory-smoked pulled pork, Texas hot sauce, spicy Cheddar kielbasa sausage, cheese, onion rings, pickles and jalapenos all on a toasty westerner bun.

3. Surf & Turf Rising

Meat for May

Photo courtesy of ispot.tv

Nation’s Restaurant News recently published an article predicting surf & turf as a strong trend rising in the current wake of coronavirus. The idea of pairing red meat and seafood intersects almost every cuisine, from Filipino to German, while also being readily available on most menus. Therefore, with some creativity and foresight, surf & turf options could be great answers to the questions of “what do customers want?” and “how can we increase revenue?”

Restaurants such as Ocean Prime, The Cheesecake Factory, and Outback Steakhouse have all quickly realized the potential for this pairing and are driving it on their menus. So ask yourself, what does your surf & turf option look like?

Steak Knives Required

There you have it, keep meat on the min this May and you’ll be sure to increase traffic. Plus, a nicely cooked piece of meat maintains its integrity out of the restaurant and back to your customers home. It’s that kind of transportable quality that will be important in menu designs to come in a post coronavirus world.

Cheers!

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May 4th, 2020

April 2020 New Menu Items

Posted in Consumer Trends, New Foods and Flavors

April 2020 New Menu Items

April 2020 New Menu Items: Triple Pepperoni Pizza, Family Meals, & More

The April 2020 New Menu Items sing a similar tune as March, with family meals coming strong. They also hit on bold flavors as we move into summer and celebrate Cinco de Mayo. While Coronavirus may be stifling in-restaurant dining, it can’t dampen the creativity and ingenuity of restaurateurs.

So, let’s take a look at what some of our national favorites launched this last month.

April 2020 New Menu Items

 Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen

April 2020 New Menu Items

Photo courtesy of texasborderbusiness.com

Cheddar’s doubles down on its Family Meal offerings with a hearty bundle of craveables, each meant to serve a family of four. Choose from Chicken Tenders, Cheeseburgers, Lemon-Pepper Chicken, or House-Smoked Baby Back Ribs paired with two family-sized sides. Dinner just got a whole lot easier.

Fuzzy’s Taco Shop

New Menu Items April 2020

Photo courtesy of Fuzzy’s Taco Shop (Waxahachie) FaceBook.

Fuzzy’s is getting on the Family Meal train with their Taco Family Meal. It includes a choice of two meats, two sides, chips, queso, salsa, tortillas, lettuce, tomatoes, shredded Cheddar cheese, cilantro, feta, garlic sauce and hot sauce. $35.00 for a regular meal serving 4-6 people or $50 for 6-8 people. Great for those larger families and just in time for Cinco de Mayo.

Jet’s Pizza

New Menu Items

Photo courtesy of prnewswire.com

Michigan’s cult favorite Jet’s Pizza also has its eye on Cinco de Mayo with the release of their new Mexican Pizza. More than just a taco pizza, this fiesta starter is packed with chorizo, mozzarella cheese, cheddar cheese, black olives, diced tomatoes and spicy jalapeno peppers.

Nathan’s Famous

Nathan's Famous

Photo courtesy of restaurantnews.com

Partnering with Franklin Junction, Nathan’s Famous has launched family meals made just for delivery. These include a hot Dog Meal, a Hand-Dipped Chicken Meal, and a Hot Honey Chicken meal. All include fries and soft drinks, and a couple even come with their famous apple pies!

Papa Murphy’s

Pepperoni Pizza Trends

Photo courtesy of chewboom.com

The “Take’n Bake” specialists at Papa Murphy’s seem to know what people want, which is pepperoni. So how do they give it to them? With the Triple Pepp Pizza featuring three types of pepperoni: Giant, regular, and mini-cup. It’s a pepperoni party!

Yard House

April 2020 New Menu Items

Photo courtesy of yardhouse.com

Our friends over at Yard House heard about the family meal craze and decided to go all in with six (six!) different family options. These include a Mac & Cheese Meal, Pizza, Salad, and Wings Meal, a Chicken Meal, a Steak or Salmon Meal, a 20/30 count Bone-In or Boneless Chicken Wings Meal (Buffalo, Korean, ancho barbecue or whiskey black pepper), a quart of soup, and/or a full-size Creme Brulee Cheesecake or Bread Pudding with Creme Anglaise. Any one of those is a comfort food feast!

Blaze Pizza & 1000 Degrees Pizza

Menu Trends 2020

Photo courtesy of blazepizza.com

Both quick service pizza giants saw the opportunity for at home pizza kits and ran with it. The kits come with dough or crusts, sauces, toppings, and even dusting flour so you can take the freshly baked pizza experience home with you.

Velvet Taco

April 2020 Menu Trends

Photo courtesy of velvettaco.com

Our final addition to the list comes from the taco geniuses over at Velvet Taco. You won’t want to miss out on their new Green Chile Pork Taco. Made with Tomatillo corn stewed pork, avocado, roasted poblano strips, mayonnaise crema, queso fresco, pickled Fresno chiles, buttered basmati cilantro rice, salsa verde and micro cilantro all wrapped up in a fresh corn tortilla. It’s a guaranteed hit!

Adios por Ahora

And happy Cinco de Mayo to all! Be sure to stay on trend and keep your guests coming back for more with fresh ideas and unique takes on classics. Hopefully, we’ll see you in one of our upcoming New Menu Items posts.

Cheers!

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April 20th, 2020

Family Meals Trend Nationally

Posted in Food Trends

Family Meals Over New Items

Family Meal Trends

It like looks family meals are going to describe the trend over the next few (and last few) weeks. With social isolation, stay home orders, and mandatory business closures, restaurants are creatively finding ways to maintain operation. One of these ways, and a very popular one, is with family meals.

Normally around this time of the month we’d deliver the new menu items that have been launched nationally over the past few weeks. But as restaurant foot traffic is at a standstill, innovation is being paused and replaced with accessibility. And what better way to make your restaurant accessible than with family meals for all the parents and kids staying home?

So, instead of new menu items, let’s look at the national restaurants serving up great family meal plans.

Family Meals – March 2020

Cowboy Chicken

Cowboy Chicken

Photo courtesy of CowboyChicken.com

The rotisserie chicken specialists at fast casual concept Cowboy Chicken have launched a whole series of awesome family meal options. You can get chicken meals for four or six, all including large sides, whole-wheat rolls, or chips and salsa. Or, you can satisfy your Tex-Mex craving with their Enchiladas Meal which includes nine enchiladas and three large sides.

Buffalo Wild Wings

Coronavirus Meal Deals

Photo courtesy of buffalowildwings.com

The fun folks over at BWWs are offering family meals of 10-20 traditional or boneless wings (or 20 of each) complete with a large side of fries. Additionally, they have buy one get one deals for wings on Tuesdays and Thursday. Sounds like a great, fun way to feed a group.

Fogo de Chão

Fogo Family Meal

Image courtesy of FogodeChao.com

The meat masters at Fogo are mixing up their normal all-you-can-eat service style with regular and family meals to go. You can find items like dry-aged New York strip, a rack of eight lamb chops, 5 pounds of beef short-rib, and even a cauliflower steak with Parmesan crust. All options include their classic pao de queijo and your choice of sides.

Mendocino Farms

Family Meals 2020

Photo courtesy of DestinationIrvine.com

The whole family craving sandwiches? Check out the Mendocino Farms’ family meal, the Mendo Meal Deal, which offers four salads or sandwiches and two sides for $40.00. Additionally, if you’re short on staples you can purchase a whole loaf of bread to be included with your pickup/delivery. Pretty sweet deal!

Olive Garden

Restaurants serving carryout

Image courtesy of OliveGarden.com

Don’t worry, you can still get your pasta, plus one more! With the Olive Garden Buy One, Take One special, you get a free pasta choice with the purchase of another pasta. With 10 options, everyone can get something they love. This deal is for car-side pickup only. Don’t forget to order salad and bread sticks!

Taco Cabana

Family Meals for Takeout

Photo courtesy of TacoCabana.com.

Taco Cabana is not only serving family meal deal specials, but you can also pair them with a beer or margarita (where states allow). They’re offering multiple variations and sizes of fajitas, along with family-sized sides, sopapillas, and chocolate cake. Don’t forget to grab a frozen lime or strawberry margarita and a pack of 12 or 24 tortillas for later.

Food for the Family

It’s great to see restaurants offering meals meant to feed the whole family. It’s a perfect way to support those at home while still being able to serve food. Hopefully this can offer a little peace to those with restless homes full of kids and parents.

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April 6th, 2020

Restaurants Adapt to Coronavirus

Posted in Educational

Restaurants Use Creativity to Adapt to Coronavirus

Restaurants Adapt to Coronavirus

Restaurants across the nation are working tirelessly to adapt to life with coronavirus. This takes much more work for some.

Many restaurants were already effectively set up for delivery services, while others had (up to very recently) not considered having it as an option. This has led to a scramble to put the framework in place.

But restaurants can’t survive on delivery only. Therefore, many have innovated new offerings, delivery options, and services to help offset the loss of foot traffic felt on their premises and in their pocketbooks.

How Restaurants are Adapting to CoronavirusContactless Delivery

Contactless/Curbside Delivery

We’ll start with the most obvious: Contactless and curbside delivery methods. Several national chains (Domino’s, Pizza Hut, &pizza, Chili’s, and Wingstop, to name a few) have implemented a contactless delivery option. Even the grocery delivery service Instacart is providing contactless delivery.

This is how it works: Customers order their food (or groceries) online and pay ahead. The items are then delivered to their doorstep by an employee (or delivery service). The customer is alerted of the arrival of their food and voila! Everything they need without risk of contamination. This option has helped many restaurants maintain a steady flow of business.

Conversely, for those businesses who don’t have the infrastructure for delivery (or are out of area), curbside pickup has become quite popular. This works one of two ways. First, customers order ahead, then call upon arriving at the restaurant and an employee brings their food out to their vehicle. With the second method, customers order ahead, and their food is placed in a marked bag in a receptacle in front of the restaurant. There’s a bit of an “honor system” required with the second option, but so far no issues have been reported.

Meal Kits

Meal Kits Coronavirus

Meal kits are a great way for restaurants to maximize income on minimal labor. No need to fire up the stoves and fryers for these packs. Just prep out the ingredients, package them up with simple instructions, and allow families a chance to find their inner chef at home.

Crossroads Kitchen in LA is providing lasagna kits, while the Michelin famous Alinea in Chicago offers short rib beef wellington and margarita kits. In San Francisco you can get Creole spiced buttermilk fried/baked chicken from Ungrafted. Even specialty providers like pop-up dinner chefs and caterers have entered the meal kit arena, as exemplified by Elemental Table and Lunch Wired Corporate Catery in Denver.

Some specialty shops have noticed a need for food related entertainment. Buttercream Bakeshop in Denver is preparing cupcake decorating kits for delivery. They’re complete with your choice of cupcakes, buttercream frosting, sprinkles, and other toppings.

Alcohol Take Out / Delivery

Restaurants Coronavirus

In the wake of mandatory business shut-downs across many states, liquor laws have loosened allowing restaurants to sell beer, wine, spirits, and mixed cocktails with their to-go and pickup orders. This is a big help, as on average alcohol represents 20-30% of total restaurant sales nationwide.

States like New York, Colorado, Illinois, California, and Texas have temporarily relaxed the laws to allow restaurants a chance to earn income off these high profit items. And with many of these same areas imposing mandatory “stay at home” orders for the population, alcohol related risks are relatively low.

I’ll Have That To Go!

These are only a few ways restaurants are innovating in the face of difficult times. Most have reduced their menu sizes to support to-go, while some have gone as far as selling groceries out of their walk-ins. At the end of the day, restaurants need customers to keep ordering, and they’ll do what it takes to feed them. Hopefully they’ll order a bottle of wine to pair with that lasagna kit.

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March 16th, 2020

Go Bold with Asian Flavored Snacks

Posted in Consumer Trends, New Foods and Flavors

Asian Flavored Snacks Continue to Captivate

Asian Flavored Snacks

Photo courtesy of spoonuniversity.com

Asian flavored snacks continue to drive sales and excitement in the snack market. As 2019 proved, certain trends are not letting go anytime soon. Two of these trends are snacking and Asian flavors, so it’s stands to reason they make a perfect pair.

Americans are steering the snack market away from sweet and salty standards and towards the more complex, fermented, and umami-packed flavors commonly found in Asian cuisines. A great way to exemplify this is by checking out the surge in snack products around Asian flavors.

Gochujang

Asian Flavored Snacks

Photo courtesy of surfandsunshine.com

It seems there’s no getting around our friend gochujang. It’s continuing to pop up nationally on pizzas, tacos, and even breakfast sandwiches. And now, no shocker, it’s all over the snack food aisle.

Whole Food’s 365 Brand launched a gochujang flavored Kettle Chip as an LTO to much applause. It’s been so popular, in fact, that they’ve continued to stock it beyond the LTO period. Annie Chun’s also makes the list with their Baked Seaweed Crisps with gochujang seasoning.

Sahale Snacks mixes things up in their Korean BBQ Almond Mix, made with savory gochujang glaze, pineapples, and sesame. The biggest surprise comes from StarKist. They released a Spicy Korean flavored tuna fish snack pouch as a part of their “Bold Flavors” lineup. This high protein snack is packed with protein and zesty flavor.

Curry Flavored Snacks

Curry Chocolate

Photo courtesy of taquitos.net

The newcomer to the flavor game is curry. Whether it be Indian, Thai, red, green, spicy, or mild, there are a variety of curry flavors and styles bouncing around the snack scene.

Kettle Brand Chips leads the way with their ultra-craveable Red Curry chips. Also on trend is Pringles, who released a Malaysian Red Curry Rice Fusion chip. Haven’t had that yet, sounds great! You can also get a little crazy with World Market Indian Sweet Curry Milk Chocolate bars.

Finally, Sarah’s Snacks launched a coconut curry nut mix featuring a savory blend of cashews, chickpeas, and sweet currants toasted with warm Indian spices.

Thai Chili

Asian flavored snacks

Photo courtesy of theshelbyreport.com

Our final entry in this category is the Thai Chile. It can be found in variations from mild to hot, sweet to savory, but all with that signature aromatic Thai flavor.

You can find Thai Chili flavored snacks most commonly in potato chip form from Lay’s, Pringles, and even Doritos with their Thai Pepper Chicken chips. Kettle also lands on this list with their Sweet Chili Garlic chips.

Blue Diamond features a bold lineup also, one of the flavors being Thai Sweet Chili Roasted almonds. And, along with their spot on the gochujang side, StarKist also features a Thai Chili Style tuna fish snack pouch. Even Quaker has launched a Sweet & Spicy Thai Chili Rice Crisp snack.

I’d say Thai Chili is currently winning the popularity battle.

Snack Time

So, go find some of the cool flavors and see just how great Asian flavored snacks can be. They’re on trend and supremely popular right now, so don’t miss out!

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March 1st, 2020

Superb Street Food Snacks

Posted in Food Trends, Trailer/Street Foods

Street Food 2.0 is Cutting Loose on Menus

New Street Food

We’re no strangers to the love of global street foods here. It’s been a popular topic on our blog for quite some time. But it looks like we may be seeing the next evolution of street food taking place right before our eyes.

American street food is becoming an amalgamation of global flavors and influences with one set purpose, to be delicious. Chefs across the country are scorning the standards to create new blends of flavors, textures, and influences into amazing small bites that change the way we perceive street food.

Let’s see how some restaurants are adapting their menus to include new-era street foods.

Street Food Pockets

Street Food Empanadas

One of the most common types of street foods globally are food pockets. They go by lots of names like buns, dumplings, pirozhki, or calzones, but equal essentially the same thing: A flavorful filling enclosed inside a pocket of dough. Hopefully served with a delicious dipping sauce (because who doesn’t love dipping?!). The universality of this item plays directly into the creative nature of street food, and restaurants are taking notice.

Recently, Fogo de Chão has realized how to maximize this trend on their bar menu. Aside from the all-you-can-eat meat style of dining, you can opt for drinks and small bites at the bar, which includes their new empanadas. Made with flaky pastry and Picanha beef, these delicious morsels are served with a side of spicy chimichurri dipping sauce.

Conversely, the fast casual Indian chain Curry Up Now has found a growing market for their mouth-watering Street Food menu, especially the samosas. These are packed with curried potatoes and/or lamb and served with aromatic chutneys for dipping.

For the Love of the Spud

Street Food Tater Tots

Potatoes are back on trend (if they ever really left)! But it looks like we’re moving past French fries and into a whole new world of starchy deliciousness.

The Tot-Chos at the Rabbit Hole in Normal Heights, CA tops this list due to their over-the-top execution. A single order contains a combo of tortilla chips, wonton chips, tater tots, jalapeño cheese, cotija, Pico de Gallo, salsa roja, cilantro crema, and scallions. No words, I need a poet…

Curry Up Now also hit this mark with the launch of their Vada Pav. This is a mashed potato fritter sandwiched between an amul buttered bun with garlic chutney and Bombay dust. Also, the ever-creative Velvet Taco found a place for potatoes on their Picnic Chicken street taco. This features rotisserie chicken, avocado crema, warm honey-Dijon potato salad, crispy chicken skin, and cilantro on a flour tortilla. Oh, and don’t forget they also serve tots.

Tongue Thai’d

Thai Street Food

Atlanta’s Tuk Tuk Thai Food Loft is showing the beauty of re-imagined Thai street food to hundreds of guests every day. People line up for the fried chicken drumsticks served with Thai 3-chile sauce. You can also order Thai-style samosas made with flaky rice paper and sweet chile sauce, or an order of Bangkok street noodles made with an assortment of chile sauces and fresh vegetables.

Dee Dee Thai in Austin, TX knows their way around next level street food as well. The Moo Ping is a pair of sweet and savory pork skewers marinated in special sauce for 48 hours and served with a small side of sticky rice and spicy dipping sauce. Or really go experimental with the Som Tom Isaan, a pungent, funky, and very spicy papaya salad made house fermented fish sauce and salted crab shell.

See You on the Streets!

So to speak. At least, with a mouth full of modern street food. These new trends are sure to launch more concepts and ideas. We’ll be here to cover them when they appear. Until then, happy eating!

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February 17th, 2020

January 2020 New Menu Items

Posted in New Foods and Flavors, Restaurants

Let’s See What New Menu Items Launched January 2020

New Menu Items January 2020

Here we are at the end of January, so you know what that means, New Menu Items!

Please, please, let’s hold the cheers and applause. I get it, I’m just as excited as you are, but there’s work to do.

January has flown by, but not without a few new menu items rolling out nationwide. We like to stay on top of these new items for you so you can monitor what’s happening in food trends on a national level and adjust accordingly.

So, without further ado, let’s see what’s hot!

New Menu Items – January 2020

Outside of the continued expansion of plant-based meats on national menus, the following items don’t have much in common. In the past, we’ve seen commonalities on new menu item roll-outs, like Chicken or BBQ. This month, it’s a little more scattershot.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty of chicken in this lineup, but different forms and contexts. It doesn’t quite match up.

Taco John’s

New Menu Items January 2020

Image thanks to tacojohns.com

Taco John’s released their new Taco Perfecto line this month. What makes it “Perfecto?” The crunchy shell is extra-long, smaller in profile, and designed to offer you a mix of every ingredient in every bite. Say goodbye to the classic two-bite taco.

The Chipotle Chicken Perfecto combines diced chicken, Cheddar, lettuce, tomato, and a creamy sauce made with smoky chipotle puree. I can get behind that.

Taco Bell

January 2020 New Menu Items

Image courtesy of businessinsider.com.

The creative geniuses at Taco Bell are at it again with their new Buffalo Chicken Nacho Fries. It’s no surprise these masters of craveability put this combination together.

Piggybacking on the huge popularity of the nacho fries, this dish is loaded. Seasoned, shredded chicken, nacho cheese sauce, sour cream, and a spicy buffalo sauce are piled high over their crispy flagship nacho fries. There’s no doubt the late-night drive through lines are going to be packed full for this item.

Famous Dave’s

Jan 2020 New Menu Items

Image courtesy of startribune.com.

Famous Dave’s is going full Southern comfort on us with Iris’ Comeback Chicken Sandwich.

This tasty devil features a crispy chicken filet brushed with smoky BBQ sauce and topped with their famous spicy pickles and a new creamy Comeback sauce. This sandwich is inspired by a recipe passed down from Dave’s mother. The real question is, how many times will you come back for a bite?

Donato’s Pizza

New Menu Items January 2020

Image courtesy of citybeat.com.

Cauliflower pizza crusts have arrived at Donatos Pizza! Yes, you heard that right. All you keto lifestylers and hidden veggie fans now have a new best friend in the Ohio-based chain.

Not only are the crusts available, but they come in three new builds: Bruschetta, Garden, and Heat. All feature the delicious Donatos red sauce, smoked provolone cheese, and, most importantly, a flavorful plant-based sausage.

Just another reason to love the folks over at Donatos.

Check Please!

That covers it for the January 2020 New Menu Items. Follow along with us to keep updated with what’s happening in the food and beverage industry every month.

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