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5 Food Trends Here to Stay in 2021

In many ways, the trends of 2021 will pick up where 2020 food trends were expected to go before they were disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the emerging food trends predicted for last year went into a kind of hibernation, that’s a good starting point for what we’ll see this year. 

That said, 2021 still has its own trend identity, one that is shifting in the second half of the year. Right now, consumers are looking to improve their health, and get back on track. As more people are vaccinated, and feeling safer to venture out, we are seeing them seek out new trends and experiences again. This means striking a balance between indulgence and healthfulness, comfort with a specific awareness of ingredients.

Comfort food

After the year and a half we’ve had, a desire for comfort food comes as no surprise. In fact, 57% of consumers say they’re interested in more comfort food trends this year—second only to health trends, says Mike Kostyo, trendologist for Datassential.

Instead of restaurateurs struggling to find eccentric ingredients or new promotions, 2021 will focus on getting back a sense of balance. People want to gather around the table, socialize and feel safe—so rather than obsessing over a rare new super-food, restaurants will move forward by providing guests with feel-good food and genuine hospitality, filling the need for comfort and warmth during these extraordinary times. 

“For 2021 the trends will go towards comfort and simplicity. This is due to the pandemic, and everyone looking for a sense of comfort and normalcy. Unfortunately, restaurants are also just trying to survive and have limited resources and staffing now, so that will also impact what we all do moving into 2021.” — Michael Schulson, chef and founder of Schulson Collective

Flavor & the Menu’s Dessert Flavor-focus Report speaks to the need of familiar, yet imaginative and translates well into to-go offerings, highlighting a beloved treat – the churro. Head to our recipe page for a spin on this classic.

 

Specific Spices & Ingredients

 

Consumers are paying extra-close attention to functional foods, looking for specialty spices on menus. In previous years. Now, the trend for specific spices and ingredients has expanded into front of pack claims for other spices, alliums, fruits and vegetables, like black garlic rather than just garlic. The desire for specific ingredients ties into the macro trend for transparency across the supply chain as consumers want to know more about the foods and flavors they are eating and the craving for uniqueness.

Consumers have an increased interest in their consumption habits, and the storytelling of the products they purchase. This story may include twists on traditional flavors, understanding the cooking techniques that add depth of flavor, or stories built for specific transparency in the products. Examples like Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla, Peruvian Chocolate, or Saigon Cinnamon can be found in our indulgent desserts.

 

Individual Portions

Not all dessert trends involve exciting new combinations of flavors, and one of the most well-represented trends you’ll be seeing as we move forward with 2021 will be the prevalence of individual desserts that go a step beyond the traditional approach of selling slices of cakes, pies, and cheesecakes. In 2009, the National Restaurant Industry’s survey results showed 83% of chefs stating mono-portion desserts were the next big thing in pastry. Restaurants will want to shift desserts and other food items crafted for ease of portability while still delivering on taste and quality.

Individually portioned and wrapped desserts are ideal to cater to this trend.

 

 

Nostalgia Is King

Dessert has always served as a safe haven for diners, a soft landing at the end of a meal where favorite indulgences await. Those pre-covid days were a distant memory for us all and now, people are craving what connects them to life before lockdowns. We’re seeing a rise in flavors that reflect comfort and nostalgia, as most people attach certain flavors to their childhood. Of course, that familiarity doesn’t mean that the dessert category lacks imagination. Cookies jam-packed with cereal have cafe visitors reminiscing of Saturday morning cartoons. Chocolate-chunk cookies remind us of laughing and baking with grandma. S’mores toppings can bring anyone back to sitting around the fire and sharing stories with dear friends.  

 

Shareables: Dessert Charcuterie Boards

Hot on the heels of jarcuterie, and mail-order charcuterie boards, Pinterest predicts that fancy boards with unique toppings will continue to rise in popularity throughout 2021. However, it’s no longer about just cured meats and cheeses: Bagel or pancake-topped breakfast charcuterie boards, colorful candy charcuterie boards, and snack-attack charcuterie boards will be the casual family meal du jour. Restaurants are taking advantage of the concept as an alternative to buffet displays, catering options, appetizers, and to-go menus. Small bite-sized pieces allow for portion control and share-ability, a concept that consumers are starting to get more comfortable with, again.

“Charcuterie has taken off for many reasons, but one reason is because it’s highly visual. It’s all over social media and the internet, and Millennials in particular reported even more impact on their diets from influencers and social media over the course of the pandemic,” says Sarah Marion, Ph.D., a Seattle, Washington-based director of syndicated research for the market research company Murphy Research. “Back in January a little more than a quarter of Millennials rated influencers and social media networks very influential on their eating habits. As social lives moved online, this number went up, hitting a high point of 41% in September and is currently sitting around 37%.” Searches for breakfast boards went up five-fold, dessert boards three-fold and Mexican charcuterie boards nearly two-fold from 2019 to 2020, according to Pinterest Business.

 

Full-service restaurants have opened their doors to welcome back customers, in what has proved to be a challenging environment, yet we are still seeing the strength, flexibility and innovation shining through. While consumer-needs evolve, restaurants strive to adapt and comfort, and set new trends for all to cherish.

 

Resources: Restaurant Dive ; Food & Wine ; Better Homes & Gardens




Takeout Solutions: Individually Wrapped Loaf Cakes

This past year has proven quite the challenge in adapting to our consumer needs. Our baked goods have always managed to bring richness and delight to menus across the country, but we’ve found there’s a more immediate need for solutions that are safe, easy to execute AND readily available. Our prepackaged desserts and food service to-go packaging resources have provided solutions. We here to announce our extension of individually wrapped Pullmans.

Consumers Demand Safety

Marble Chocolate Chip Pullman Product ImageToday’s climate has increased consumer food needs for safe packaging and labor-cutting products. Consumers have been screaming for versatile products that can be enjoyed on the go, without sacrificing wholesome ingredients. Since 2012, the demand for non-GMO snacks has risen 18.2%. At c-stores, 33% of consumers say they plan to purchase healthy items and 44.2% are willing to pay premium prices for those products. Operators need cross-functional products that cover all day-parts and eliminate waste. Enter Individually Wrapped Manifesto Pullmans. Our artisan loaf cakes use fresh and sustainable ingredients preserving the same indulgent taste found in the rest of our Manifesto line, packed up and ready to go wherever you go. They’re the perfect contact-less option that works great for take out or delivery, as grab-and-go options for c-stores, for catering, or as part of a bakery case display.

Banana Yogurt Swirl Manifesto Pullman product image

 

At Sweet Street, we’ve taken our passion to bake cleaner, more wholesome desserts to a new level with our Manifesto® line of cookies, bars and individually wrapped treats. Every batch of these Pullman loaves starts with all-butter, pure-cane-sugar and cage-free-eggs and promises ingredients that are GMO free, additive free and sustainable. In removing additives and GMO ingredients, the flavor of each Pullman has the chance to shine. Wholesome decadence meets grab-n-go goodness.

 

Ingredients that Care

Our individually wrapped artisan loaf cakes are abundant with fresh ingredients in their purest form; hand-pureed ripened bananas, the natural sweetness of sustainably grown chocolates, the sweet spice of Saigon cinnamon or the brightness of lemon. They’re free from GMO’s and all things artificial; additives, colors and flavor. Click here to learn more about our sustainable sourcing and ingredient initiatives.

Lemon Pullman Slice ImageLemon Pullman Manifesto® IW

A light, buttery lemon loaf cake made with pure creamy butter, for rich flavor, cage-free eggs and pure cane sugar.

 

Banana Yogurt Swirl Pullman Slice PictureBanana Yogurt Swirl Pullman Manifesto® IW

A moist, comforting loaf cake blended with freshly pureed ripened banana, pure creamery butter, cafe-free eggs and pure cane sugar. Swirled with the tangy coolness of low-fat yogurt and flecked with aromatic, sweet Saigon Cinnamon then showered with the natural goodness of toasted, rolled oats.

 

Cinnamon Swirl Pullman Slice ImageCinnamon Streusel Pullman Manifesto® IW

Sings of melt-in-your-mouth comfort.  Buttery, vanilla pound cake strewn throughout with sweetly, rich Saigon Cinnamon and chopped walnuts, made with pure creamery butter, cage-free eggs and pure cane sugar.

 

Marble Chocolate Chip Pullman Slice ImageChocolate Marble Pullman Manifesto® IW

A scrumptious vanilla and chocolate pound cake melded with pure-creamery-buttery-goodness, scattered generously throughout with the sweetness of sustainably sourced chocolate chips. Blended with only cage-free eggs and pure cane sugar.

 

With a 10 day ambient shelf-life, you can offer an always fresh, on-the-go breakfast, afternoon pick-me-up or late night, better-for-you indulgence. Ideal for boxed meals, catered events, coffee and snack kiosks, elevating your c-store offering or as a pre-portioned and contact-less, signature menu item. Their thaw and serve function make Pullman IW’s an ideal option in operator’s efforts to eliminate waste.

Assorted Individually Wrapped Pullman Slice ImagesIndividually wrapped treats with the same indulgent taste as our Manifesto bars and cookies ready to go for c-stores and catering. Local healthcare and senior living patients and employees can rejoice when they find new Pullman IW’s bundled with their morning coffee or with their lunch/dinner meals. These tasty cakes are perfect for in-home care delivery. Our local Meals on Wheels has already jumped on the bandwagon. Retailers can place them in kiosks, delis, or supermarkets. Whatever your segment, whatever your day-part needs, Pullman Manifesto IW’s answer the unmet wants and needs of today’s convenience consumers with a clean label of natural ingredients and a consideration for where those ingredients come from.

Pullman IW’s are in national distribution, can be found at DOT and they’re available for direct purchase on our DSD site. Contact us today to order your first shipment, so your customers can sing the delicious song of goodness on the go!




Ghost Kitchens Scare Up Big Business

Even before the pandemic hit, ghost kitchens were popping up around the country and were shifting the dining experience as we know it. Due to pandemic guidelines, restaurants have turned into ghost kitchens nearly overnight. How are they impacting the industry and will they last even after COVID-19?

Image of DoorDash Delivery on Bicycle

DoorDash Delivery

What are Ghost Kitchens?

Simply, ghost kitchens, also known as virtual kitchens, are bare-boned restaurants without a storefront. Stripped of traditional dining spaces, they serve as large functional kitchens to prepare food for delivery. Various restaurants can operate out of the same space. For example, around this time last year, DoorDash launched a shared ghost kitchen offering four diverse restaurants within the same space. Through their DoorDash kitchen, customers could order from any combination of restaurants in the same order and have it delivered at once, giving consumers more customization and control over their dining experience. Other restaurants may prefer to host their own virtual kitchens while utilizing third-party delivery platforms.

No dock? No problem. Checkout our DSD Program.

Why are they trending?

A major benefit for restaurants who transition to ghost kitchens is by cutting their operating costs with fewer employees and less square footage. Companies can streamline operations and focus on creating quality menu items, when they subtract washing dishes and setting tables. For those just starting out, this model cuts cost and excels the process to market and for existing restaurants, executives can expand to new areas or test new concepts, at lower risks.

 

Image of Young Man working in kitchen

Ghost Kitchens

Now, the ghost kitchen trend has almost become a necessity for nearly every restaurant around the globe. With the emergence of COVID-19 and restricted dine-in guidelines, many restaurants closed their doors to foot traffic, resorting to delivery services like Uber Eats, Grubhub and DoorDash or temporarily closing completely. Ghost kitchens offer the contactless customer model that only focuses on take-out services. These flexible models are also inviting chefs to offer specials and experiment with new ingredients and with digital menus, item changes are made with ease.

The possibilities are endless! Sebes says: “Launch a new concept exclusively in a delivery app. Run multiple concepts from a single location. Meet demand for constant variety. Ghost kitchens and today’s digital-first world make all of this more accessible and manageable. The chefs are constantly getting feedback as part of the delivery app, allowing them to pivot or tweak. If something doesn’t work, move on to try something else without much financial loss.”

Now & Post-pandemic

Globe Newswire said: At the onset of COVID-19, Wingstop Inc., Dallas, moved quickly to close its dining rooms and shift to 100% off-premises. The company was well-positioned based on its pre-COVID investments in digital and technology platforms, allowing for the brand to seamlessly shift from 80% off-premises and adapt to the change in consumers’ dining behaviors. The resiliency of Wingstop was demonstrated in its April 2020 same-store sales growth of 33.4% and 65% digital sales, which included a delivery sales mix of more than 30% of total sales. In efforts to continue this growth trajectory and adjust to the changing landscape, the company opened its first domestic ghost kitchen in Dallas on July 1. It spans less than 400 square feet, compared to Wingstop’s average restaurant footprint at approximately 1,750 square feet, while offering the same full menu.

Image of Wingstop wings, fries and brownie

Wingstop

“We have a goal to digitize 100% of transactions as we drive to become a top-10 global restaurant brand and we believe ghost kitchens are a great step for the brand as delivery and digital sales continue to increase,” says Charlie Morrison, chairman and CEO. The concept was the company’s answer to its customers’ appetite for adventure while acknowledging current travel limitations.

While no one knows exactly how the post-coronavirus world will fare for the restaurant industry, there is no denying that ghost kitchens remain a popular option. For full-service restaurants, they are counting the days to when they can throw open the doors and welcome back their customers. But as full-service restaurants look to expand into new areas, in what promises to be a challenging environment, it’s likely a ghost kitchen model will be on the list of considerations. For starters, ghost kitchens are built to naturally support social-distancing, which is likely to continue in some capacity long after stay-at-home mandates lift.

 

Sources:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/blakemorgan/2020/01/21/3-ways-ghost-kitchens-are-the-future-of-experiential-retail/#3d30998635ee

https://www.qsrmagazine.com/outside-insights/will-ghost-kitchen-trend-continue-during-and-after-covid-19

https://www.bakemag.com/articles/13577-rising-trend-of-ghost-kitchens-spurs-innovation

https://www.globenewswire.com/news-release/2020/06/30/2055630/0/en/Wingstop-Opens-First-Ghost-Kitchen-in-US.html




Sweet Street Receives Coveted Industry FABI Award

READING, PA (May 19, 2020) — Sweet Street, the nation’s leading manufacturer of gourmet desserts, announced today its recognition for its Zoe’s Crush Manifesto® Cookie as a 2020 Food and Beverage (FABI) Award recipient. Each year at the National Restaurant Association Show, the FABI Awards highlight products that are breaking new ground in taste, creativity, packaging and profit potential within the foodservice industry.

Zoe’s Crush Manifesto Cookie is sweet with a subtle hint of savory and helps operators deliver an on-trend and flavorful option their customers can feel good about enjoying. We are honored this delicious product has been recognized as a recipient of this year’s FABI Awards!” says Rick Kirkpatrick, VP Sales and Marketing.

Named after Sweet Street’s founder, Sandy Solmon’s daughter, the Zoe’s Crush Manifesto Cookie was born out of quality mother-daughter time spent in the kitchen testing recipes. A combination of toffee, almonds, toasted sesame, candied ginger, Single-origin Peruvian chocolate and a delicate hint of miso make this cookie a must. It is also certified gluten free to deliver a delicious alternative for consumers.

This is the 4th FABI Award Sweet Street has received for their Manifesto Individually Wrapped products. To learn more visit www.sweetstreet.com.

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About Sweet Street

Pennsylvania-based Sweet Street is the leader in frozen dessert sales, distributing to North America, Europe and Asia. Its innovation has created not only new dessert products, but also new dessert categories, Candy Bar Pies, Big Desserts, Pullmans, Xangos®, European Individuals and Brulée Cheesecakes. Sweet Street has also taken the initiative to remove GMOs, hidden preservatives and additives from its offerings. The company holds 15 copyrights for the design of its food products. Learn more by visiting www.sweetstreet.com or contacting your broker or distributor.

More about the FABI Awards

The Food and Beverage Awards are hosted annually as part of the National Restaurant Association Show and recognize food and beverage products that are innovating on multiple levels. The recipients are industry-altering products that will shape the future of the food and beverage industry with flavorful and marketable items designed to delight.




29 Unique and Exciting Products Honored with 2020 Food and Beverage (FABI) Awards

Chicago (May 15, 2020) – The National Restaurant Association Show today announced the recipients of the 2020 Food and Beverage (FABI) Awards, recognizing food and beverage products that are breaking new ground in taste, creativity, packaging, and profit potential. These industry-altering products will shape the future of food and beverage with flavorful and marketable items designed to delight diners and drive sales for years to come.

“Each year, we are eager to see the new flavors, product creativity, and innovation highlighted by the FABI Awards and this year’s recipients, once again, live up to expectations,” said Tom Cindric, president of Winsight Exhibitions. “From alternative proteins and gluten-free options to cold brew drinks to unconventional desserts, the 29 FABI awardees represent the industry’s year-to-year evolution that will ultimately benefit restaurant operators and consumers in the years ahead.”

For the full list of 2020 FABI Award recipients, click here.

Sweet Street DessertsZoe's Crush Individually Wrapped Cookie with test On The Go INgredients that Care
Zoe’s Crush Manifesto Cookie
Zoe’s Crush Manifesto Cookie is sweet with a subtle hint of savory. The crush of toffee, almonds, toasted sesame, candied ginger, single-origin Peruvian chocolate and delicate hint of miso make it umami. Certified gluten free.

The FABI Award recipients were selected by an independent panel of judges from across the foodservice industry and represent some of the most well-known brands and organizations. The 2020 FABI judges are:
• Pat Cobe, Senior Editor, Restaurant Business, FoodService Director
• Timothy J. Dietzler, Retired Director, College & University Food Services, Villanova University
• Marion Gibson, Culinary Development Director, Aramark
• Aimee Harvey, Managing Editor, Technomic
• Farley Kaiser, Corporate Executive Chef/Culinary Innovation Manager Fresh Foods, Wawa, Inc.
• John Li, Vice President Culinary Innovation, The Wendy’s Company
• Robin Rosenberg, Vice President, Chef de Cuisine, Levy Restaurants
• Cammie Spillyards-Schaefer, Vice President of Culinary and Menu Strategy, Cracker Barrel Old Country Store®
• Bret Thorn, Senior Food & Beverage Editor, Nation’s Restaurant News

As the global restaurant and hospitality industry’s premier trade show, the National Restaurant Association Show brings together more restaurant and hospitality buyers and equipment
manufacturers than any other industry event. For more information about the FABI program and this year’s award recipients, visit NationalRestaurantShow.com/FABI.

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The National Restaurant Association Show, Hotel-Motel Show is owned and operated by Winsight LLC in equity partnership with the National Restaurant Association. About the National Restaurant Association
Founded in 1919, the National Restaurant Association is the leading business association for the restaurant industry, which comprises more than one million restaurant and foodservice outlets and a workforce of more than 15.3 million employees. It represents the industry in Washington, D.C., and in partnership with 52 state associations, advocates on the industry’s behalf in states and locations across the nation. The Association manages the leading food safety training and certification program (ServSafe); a unique career-building high school program (the NRAEF’s ProStart); and sponsor the industry’s largest annual trade show, the National Restaurant Association Show. For more information, visit the Show on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.

About Winsight LLC
Winsight LLC is a business-to-business information, event and market intelligence company serving the restaurant and noncommercial foodservice, convenience and petroleum retailing and grocery industries. Winsight provides research and analytics, branding solutions, face-to-face opportunities, lead generation initiatives, and content marketing services through products including subscription data products, reports, research tools, research programs, fully custom studies, conferences, custom marketing services, meetings, print, digital trade media and tradeshows, including the National Restaurant Association Show. Winsight LLC is a portfolio company of Pamlico Capital.




Gluten-Free: Its Importance on the Menu

Many of our favorite social situations revolve around food. This can make it difficult to socialize if you’re restricted by a gluten-free diet. Sadly, studies have found that roughly 21% of people with celiac disease avoid social events so that they can stick to their gluten-free diet.

Zoe's Crush Cookie stacked on a cook book

Zoe’s Crush Cookie

What is Gluten?

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. It’s responsible for the elastic texture of dough, acting as a glue to hold food together and maintain their shape. 

Celiac Disease and Gluten Intolerance

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease in which eating gluten proteins prompts the immune system to attack the small intestine, leading to digestive complaints. Those with gluten intolerance might not test positive for celiac disease, but still feel discomfort when in contact with gluten products.

Certified NSF Gluten-Free Logo

The researchers estimated that 1.76 million people in the U.S. have celiac disease, but an estimated 2.7 million people in the U.S. have eliminated or reduced their consumption of gluten despite never having been diagnosed with the condition, according to the findings, published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine. 

Honduran Chocolate Manifesto Brownie, CGF on Black and White Napkin

Honduran Chocolate Manifesto Brownie, CGF

 

Put it on the Menu!

Celiacs may have spurred the demand for gluten-free menu options, but many consumers believe that gluten-free diets are healthier, which increasingly promotes menus that highlight GF items. While some of these consumers may be gluten intolerant, research shows that about 29% simply perceive gluten-free as a healthier way to eat. This confirms a trend with staying power. “Gluten-free is not going away anytime soon,” dietitian Michelle Dudash declared during the Restaurant Leadership Conference.

Restaurants would be smart to expand their gluten-free offerings, she added. Studies show that 92% of customers with food allergies will return to a restaurant where they have appropriate offerings and have a positive experience. Datassentials’s SNAP tool tells us that 32.2% of U.S. restaurant menus featured GF options in 2019 compared to 4.8% in 2012. The gluten-free market is estimated to be as large as $12 billion by 2020, perhaps even as larger. Furthermore, restaurants that offer gluten-free menu items see up to an 8% increase in sales because of an increase in diners, not due to more expensive items on the menu. 

The National Restaurant Association also has multiple resources for managing a gluten-free menu, from ingredient selection to back of house operations and front of house training. https://bit.ly/2IbIBAX 

Sweet Street has desserts to add gluten free options to your menu!

Sources:

https://www.restaurantbusinessonline.com/food/understanding-gluten-free-customer

https://apps.datassential.com/snap/food?q=gluten%20free

https://www.foodabletv.com/blog/2016/5/12/3-reasons-to-go-gluten-free-on-your-menu




Presentation Matters: Your Guide to Dessert Plating.

As we indulge in a delicious plate, our senses are heightened with aroma and visual appeal, before our very first bite. The presentation matters, so make it impressive. Artistic plating, when done right, makes a promise to the consumer: You’re going to enjoy this.  

Why it counts:

Food presentation is essential to the success of any dish. The wayPlated Slice of Banana Toffee Bourbon Cake the food appears on the plate is what tempts the eye and makes the guest crave discovering its flavor. It’s a feeling that resonates with us. Plating food is like preparing for a first date, you want to make a good impression. You know that you’re delicious and worthy of seconds, but your date isn’t sure. Visual appeal is just as important in the dining experience as is the taste left on the palate. Texture, form and color are all used to invoke emotions and aid in telling a story. The plating should be designed to introduce you to that story.

Illistration of Celebration Cupcake with statistic, 87% think about eating dessert one or more times per day

 

Now, more than ever, food presentation is crucial. Gen Z makes up one-third of the population and continues to grow in buying power. Social media is where they find information about food trends, where to buy, and determine whether or not it’s worth their time. According to a national study commissioned by Hershey, Gen Z loves dessert and 87% think about eating it at least once a day, if not more. They also want to share their dessert experience with others. “Desserts are the number one food that Gen Z photographs and 46 percent of Gen Zers have a picture of a dessert on their phone right now” – Hershey Insights. The passion this new generation expresses for dessert, is even more reason to pay extra attention to plate presentation.  

 

Tips to perfect presentation:Lemon Blueberry Cookie Plated with berries and berry sauce

  • Make sure all plates are sparkling clean: Dirty plates are a quick way to deter guests
  • Adapt the presentation to the occasion
  • Balance variety and contrast with texture: Plates with a hint of complexity draw the eye.
  • Garnish where appropriate: Bring a pop of color to a cheesecake
  • Match portion size with plate size: If the plates are too big, fill in space with a beautiful design.
  • Manipulate dimensions to further intrigue.

 

Unique ideas for dessert plating:

Sources:

https://spoonuniversity.com/lifestyle/importance-of-plating-your-food

http://www.chefseanbone.com/why-is-food-presentation-so-important/

https://www.thehersheycompany.com/en_us/blog/worth-sharing-how-social-media-can-drive-dessert-sales-with-gen-z.html




Chocolate & Why we just can’t get enough!

Close up image of chocolate chunks

Today we celebrate a sacred day in our Sweet Street community. That day is National Chocolate Day. Our friend, sweet, glorious and rich chocolate. Here’s a little history of this craveable ingredient, found in many of our desserts, and why we just can’t get enough of it.

Brief History

Woman picking cacoa from tree

Chocolate, as you may well know, comes from the cocoa bean, which have been growing on trees in South and Central America for over 100 million years. Cocoa trees started growing in the lower slopes of the Andes Mountains. They live in hot and rainy areas close to the Equator. The cocoa beans come from a large fruit such as this:  They are full of vitamins like magnesium and Vitamin C, but they are quite bitter. They also contain a fair amount of caffeine. People started farming cocoa as early as 15,000 BC in South America. Cocoa farming spread quickly to North and Central America and by 2000 BC, people of Mexico were grinding cocoa beans and making them into a hot or cold spicy chocolate drink. Making various concoctions, they sometimes used honey to sweeten the chocolate. 

 

Sandy's Hands with Cocoa Beans

 

By 200s BC, during Aztec Empire, cocoa beans became an important trade item as the people in the north could not grow their own due to climate restrictions. Thus, the migration into Arizona and Colorado. The government soon made people use cocoa beans as money and the farmers could not afford to actually eat them anymore. Only the rich were privileged enough to drink chocolate drinks. In the late 1400s Ad, when Spanish invaders came to Mexico and America’s Southwest, they tried chocolate delicacies made for the rich and they brought it back to Europe with them. 

 

What We Crave

Today, chocolate is distributed everywhere and is meant for everyone. Variations of chocolate have been developed and endless dessert items have been created from this ancient ingredient. But why do we love it so much?

Dr. Stavnezer says “We crave chocolate because it is good!” It tastes, feels and smells good. Those feelings are the result of our brain releasing chemicals, dopamine, in response to the experience. Dopamine is that feel-good neurotransmitter that is released whenever we enjoy something and is part of our reward circuit. However, this circuit is part of our uniquely designed genetics. Thus, some people claim they don’t like chocolate… Crazy! 

Illustration of how cocoa increases dopamine

Chocolate also contains theobromine that can increase heart rate and arouse the senses, caffeine that makes us feel awake and increases focus, fat and sugar, preferred food sources due to calorie density.

Our brain creates a memory of this positive experience through the hippocampus. Therefore, every time we eat chocolate we are strengthening and reinforcing that reward system (dopamine response)  and the memory of feel-good sensations associated with it.

The Numbers

The numbers speak for themselves. According to Data Essential, chocolate is on 71.1% of US menus with a high versatility score. Chocolate can be found in cakes, brownies, cookies, candy, pies, ice cream, milk shakes, cheesecake, pudding, dessert bars, custards, mousses, fudge, pastries and much more. It’s popularity continues to grow, with no end in sight. 

Historic Chocolate on Menu Chart with Growth

Soucres:

https://quatr.us/south-america/chocolate-come-south-america.htm

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/comfort-cravings/201402/why-do-we-crave-chocolate-so-much

https://apps.datassential.com/snap/food?q=CHOCOLATE




12 Fun Facts About Your Taste Buds

Buzzfeed: We owe a lot to these little guys. They’re the reason we find Sweet Street products so tasty!

https://www.buzzfeed.com/pepsi/fun-facts-about-your-taste-buds

1. You can’t see your taste buds.

Contrary to popular belief, those bumps on your tongue are not your taste buds. Those are called papillae, and they contain numerous taste buds within and around them.

 

 

2. Taste buds aren’t just on your tongue.

They’re on the roof of your mouth, your throat, and even your esophagus!

 

3. That thing they taught you in school was wrong.

Remember that map of the tongue that showed which sections of the tongue were responsible for which taste? This was scientifically disproven. All regions of the tongue detect all tastes, though different parts are more sensitive to certain flavors. Science prevails again!

 

4. So there are these things called taste hairs…

Each taste bud has 50 to 100 receptor cells. Sticking out of these receptor cells are tiny taste hairs that check out the food chemicals in your saliva then send a signal to your brain. Ewww, taste hairs…

 

5. Everyone has a different amount of taste buds.

People can have anywhere between 2,000 and 10,000 taste buds. Yet another fascinating trait that makes each of us unique!

 

 

6. Introducing “supertasters!”

People with significantly more taste buds are called supertasters. They are much more sensitive to taste and may find certain foods too bitter or sweet.

Find out if you’re a supertaster here!

7. A taste bud’s life is fleeting.

Taste buds only live for 10 to 14 days.

8. The good news: They grow back!

Your taste buds are constantly regenerating. So don’t worry when you burn your tongue on some hot coffee — you’ll get new taste buds in no time!

 

9. The bad news: Fewer taste buds grow back as you get older.

Your sense of taste decreases as you get older. SO EAT ALL THE CHOCOLATE YOU CAN WHILE YOU HAVE THE CHANCE!

 

 

Sweet Street NY Cheesecake with Tabasco Bottle

Sweet Street NY Cheesecake with Tabasco

10. Spicy food hurts.

When food tastes too spicy, it’s actually stimulating the pain receptors in your mouth and not the taste buds. So when it feels like it’s burning… it kind of is.

11. Taste buds are there to protect you.

Your taste buds protect you from dangerous foods. When something tastes wrong, you immediately spit it out, thus preventing it from getting to your stomach. Thanks, taste buds!

 

 

12. Taste and smell: It’s a beautiful romance.

Flavor comes from the combination of taste AND smell. Ever notice how your food tastes bland when you’ve got a stuffy nose? These two don’t like to be separated.




Why umami is a vital flavor for food

Image of Zoe's Crush Cookie and Umami callout

Umami is the mysteriously addictive fifth primary taste we all crave unknowingly.  The complex food component has created a hunger in consumers that needs to be satisfied. Luckily, Sweet Street is at the forefront of this emerging trend, that’s about to blow up. Zoe’s Crush is a perfect mix of sweet, savory and umami. This deeply satisfying, gluten free, deliciously packed cookie blends almonds, toffee, toasted sesame, candied ginger, Peruvian chocolate and a delicate hint of miso, that’s where umami plays. What is Umami and why is it vital for food?

 

Image of burger and fries in Sweet Street Cafe

 

It seems as though consumers are just recognizing the name of this elusive flavor, but Umami has been well-established in Asian culinary history, first named in 1908 by a Japanese chemist. In Japanese, umami means “pleasant savory taste”, but we know it as “craveability”. The bold taste can be found in Asian cuisine through ingredients like soy sauce, miso paste, gochujang, and common pantry staples like, tomato paste, Parmesan cheese, and mushrooms – the list goes on.

 

Katie Ayoub, from Flavor and the Menu, points out that there’s a new and interesting trend happening in menu development and Umami is top of the roster. “The collective taste buds of consumers are evolving” she says. Chefs around the world have noticed a shift in the preference of the modern palate, averting overly sweet foods and focusing on the more savory dishes. Umami balances the other four tastes. It’s is more than flavor, it’s a sensation that stays with you and lingers.

Zoe's Crush Cookie on Table with ingredients scatteredThe perplexing taste has earned its place on global menus, but how the flavor actually functions is complicated. Nancy Rawson, associate director of the Monell Chemical Senses Center, says that “there is a molecular receptor which responds to umami stimuli from MSG”. This means that humans have developed a mechanism to sense and respond to umami flavor. This priming process may take place as early as before and just after birth, when amniotic fluid and breast milk contain large amount of amino acids that transmit umami taste, setting us up to crave its complexity throughout life. Even as the senses of an aging population decrease, umami can act as an agent to enhance appetite by keeping the dish appealing. Food scientists are still researching to explain it’s molecular mechanism and human’s nutritional drive towards it, but one thing is clear, umami is here to stay. 

 Click here to try new Zoe’s Crush!

Zoe's Crush Cookies StackedSources:

https://www.fooddive.com/news/why-umami-is-a-vital-flavor-for-food/564489/

https://www.thespruceeats.com/what-is-umami-1664724

https://bit.ly/34Il9op