Nostalgia and Comfort Are On the Table
Food can evoke powerful emotions, bringing back fond memories of family and childhood through smells, flavors, and appearances. Lately, diners are craving this nostalgia and comfort in their foods and beverages, especially snacks and treats from the 1990s. Social media accounts are lighting up with these retro references, and restaurants are taking cues. With thousands of videos on TikTok with titles like “90s snacks to bring back” earning millions of views, it’s a great time for restaurants to roll out limited-time offers that cater to the craze.
Certain foods transport consumers back to times and places where they felt safe, secure, and carefree, which, for many, were their childhoods. Kids who grew up in the 90s are now adults who crave a return to the simpler times of their youth. Consumer brands have taken notice and are bringing back old favorites, while restaurants are offering LTOs that recall diners’ happy memories.
Taco Bell played into this trend by asking patrons to vote through their app for which discontinued menu item, the Enchirito or the Double Decker Taco, to bring back, with the former winning the vote. On the consumer side, General Mills responded to a wave of social media nostalgia for the sweet snack Dunkaroos, which disappeared from shelves in 2012. Sunny D even returned as a seltzer, to the delight of millennials who loved the orange-flavored drink as children. Newer brands can even tap into feelings of nostalgia through marketing and packaging choices, even if their products aren’t as familiar.
While healthier eating has gained popularity over the past several years, comfort foods are still in demand. Some dishes melt our worries away, whether they trigger a specific memory or not. Rich, indulgent, or hearty ingredients like potatoes, cheese, and bread make us feel satisfied and content with just one bite.
Try recipes that conjure fondly remembered flavors like this Queso Mac & Cheese, a childhood throwback with a grownup protein boost from chorizo ground turkey. Or serve a twist on a lunchtime favorite with this Turkey Patty Melt with honey-bourbon bacon, beer-basted onions, and drippy Muenster cheese. Guests craving classic diner food will love this Turkey and Savory French Toast Hot Brown, featuring melty cheese, crispy bacon, and tomato salad.
Serving nostalgic or comforting flavors makes diners feel good and inspires them to return for more. How will you incorporate these foods into your menu? Share your ideas on our Facebook or LinkedIn pages, and visit our Resource Center for more tips and trends.
Content courtesy of Butterball Foodservice