Americans have always been fond of food. That’s no secret.
But it runs much deeper than that, and there’s evidence to suggest that nearly all Americans are now foodies in at least some capacity. As Jane Sarasohn-Kahn explains in The Huffington Post, US consumers are taking a different approach to how they spend their hard-earned money.
Rather than spending it on more “stuff,” they’re spending it on experiences, with food being a top experience-spending category.
With such a keen interest in food, some interesting stories have surfaced over the course of 2017. Let’s now take a look at some of the key news and events involving delis, restaurants and sandwiches.
NYC’s Carnegie Deli Closes its Doors
Founded in 1937, the famous Carnegie Deli has been an institution for sandwich lovers for nearly 80 years. It was renowned for its cured meat on rye, knishes and of course the $20 pastrami sandwich, which hardcore patrons would gladly wait for hours for.
But, sadly, at the very end of 2016, the Carnegie Deli closed its doors, much to the dismay of die-hard fans. Sam Frizell writes in Time magazine that the issue primarily stemmed from a labor dispute where the restaurant owed $2.6 million in backpay.
Fortunately, the legacy will continue to live on. Bill Chappell reports on NPR there will still be a family-owned meat processing facility in New Jersey as well as a handful of licensed location throughout the United States.
Junior’s ‘Ready to Win at Instagram’ With New Cheesecake Shake
New York institution Junior’s essentially created a whole new class of dessert when it debuted its pumpkin pie cheesecake milkshake at the beginning of October. It’s exactly what it sounds like: A photo-worthy milkshake with a slice of Junior’s famous cheesecake on top.
Nicole Levy at AM New York has the story: “The Pumpkin Pie Cake Shake starts off with cinnamon and brown sugar-accented vanilla ice cream blended with milk. That mixture is poured into a glass rimmed with vanilla frosting and crushed graham crackers. Capping the glass is a hefty slice of Junior’s new pumpkin pie cheesecake, which comes with a graham cracker crust, a layer of pumpkin pie filling, a tier of traditional cheesecake and pumpkin mousse rosettes speckling the top. The entire shake is then buried in whipped cream.”
Data Shows Customization is Why People Love Sandwiches
In an interesting post at SmartBrief, Hannah Paterakis took a look at some of the data behind sandwiches and what made them so popular — the science behind their tastiness.
She explains that a big part of the appeal if the level of personalization that sandwiches allow. Over two-thirds of sandwiches ordered in restaurants are completely customized or modified from what’s normally on the menu.
Paterakis also points out that more than a third of patrons opt for sandwiches over other food items because they can customize them to their liking. In many ways, sandwiches are the catalyst for innovation because they provide customers with a “safe” way to experiment with food.
Getting Adventurous with Condiments
People also love to experiment with condiments. What we’re finding is that standard condiments like mayonnaise and mustard are being replaced by more adventurous alternatives.
CSP Magazine mentions that nearly half (45 percent) of millennials are open to trying out a new condiment that’s out of the ordinary. Three of the global condiments that are trending the most in 2017 include harissa, sambal and gochujang.
Whole Foods has some other interesting condiments that were once rare but are slowly becoming the norm. Some notables include:
- Black sesame tahini
- Pomegranate molasses
- Plum jam with chia seeds
- Piri piri sauce
- Date syrup
Breakfast and Lunch Unite
There’s another noticeable sandwich trend that’s been covered by countless publications, and that’s the breakfast sandwich. While traditionally viewed as a lunchtime favorite, we’re finding that the sandwich is making its way onto more and more breakfast tables.
The team at QSR Magazine explains that breakfast sandwiches are starting to dominate menus all over the country. Eggs in particular are a common focal point of these sandwiches, which are popular with customers throughout the entire day. Therefore, we’re seeing many restaurants offering breakfast sandwiches all day long and not strictly during morning hours.
When it comes to the best of the best, Food & Wine lists the following as some of the top breakfast sandwiches:
- The pork roll schnitzel sandwich with red cabbage, a sunny-side up egg and mustard
- Meat, cheese bread with a sausage patty, melted chipotle cheese and fennel shavings
- The pork shoulder and egg sandwich with ricotta salami and green-apple ketchup
This fusion of breakfast and lunch is quickly catching on and something that delis and restaurant owners should take note of.
Food Trucks are Changing the Culinary Landscape
The concept of food trucks has steadily been gaining momentum ever since the great recession in the late 2000s. There’s just something that many people find appealing about getting a delicious, unique meal out of a food truck that just can’t be replicated in your typical brick-and-mortar. It’s truly an experience.
While food trucks were initially found in only a handful of cities like Portland and Austin, we’re beginning to see a surge throughout much of the country. Joseph F. Coughlin writes in Big Think that millennials are a “food truck generation,” and 47 percent have eaten a meal from a food truck at some point.
The only thing holding this trend back are the regulations imposed by many cities and states. Richard Myrick explains in Mobile Cuisine that parking laws in particular can be major obstacles, and many cities are playing catch-up to what could be deemed as a culinary revolution.
Nonetheless, food trucks are taking the nation by storm and show no sign of slowing down.
Authenticity Makes a Comeback
Ever since the rise of fast food in the 20th Century, the majority of diners have preferred convenience and affordability over authenticity and quality. But we’re really starting to see a paradigm shift that has become undeniable over the past few years.
This is evident in the growth of artisanal foods and small-batch cooking — as well as the decline we’re seeing in fast food sales. Ashley Lutz even reports at Business Insider that sales growth in this industry have nearly stalled (they grew just 0.5 percent in 2016).
On the other hand, foods where authenticity is the major focal point are really taking off. Eustacia Huen writes at Forbes that upscale, artisan butcher shops with a commitment to quality are seeing much bigger demand.
Lauren R. Hartman also points out in Food Processing that time, care and quality are the biggest factors that go into making food authentic. When it comes to ingredients, it’s all about being fresh, clean, local and natural.
The food industry is a fascinating one that’s continually evolving. The main impetus for this progression is millennials and their insatiable desire for good food. Alexandra Talty highlights in Forbes that millennials spend a whopping 44 percent of their food budgets on dining out.
Their collective tastes and preferences are heavily influencing current culinary trends. Such news stories provide deli and restaurant owners with insights into what’s trending and how they should approach food moving forward.