Getting Comfy with Comfort Food

Posted by Rebekah Wicke on 11/14/17

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Maybe it’s due to current events, or maybe life has gotten more stressful. Maybe people are feeling particularly nostalgic and craving mom’s cooking, or maybe this is due to the indulgent food trends we’ve been seeing. Either way, comfort food has made a major come back in recent years, and it doesn’t appear to be going anywhere anytime soon.

AdobeStock 72110619 1Comfort food encompasses a wide range of dishes, both savory and sweet, and each region or country may have its own set of comfort foods. What makes a food a “comfort food”? These are the foods that we grew up with; foods that make us feel nostalgic about our childhoods. They’re foods that feel inherently good because they remind us of home. Perhaps that’s why we tend to turn to comfort foods in times of stress. For a while, comfort foods were trending primarily in fall and winter, but now, we’re seeing comfort food items on menus and in retail all year round.

One might think that due to the rise of recent health and wellness trends, comfort food would be on the decline. Comfort food, however, is still seeing gains, especially on restaurant menus and the frozen aisle, but also even on snacks. Consumers like products that turn eating into an experience, and comfort foods do just that by offering a nostalgic experience. Not only that, but because comfort foods are typically perceived to be homemade, they’re often times perceived to be healthy too.

Here’s our breakdown of the comfort food trend:

1. Just like Mom Made – But with a Twist
Comfort food dishes and flavors like pot roast, mac and cheese, chili with cornbread, chocolate chip cookies, and grilled cheese & tomato soup, remind consumers of their childhoods. Consumers are looking for a modern take on these popular and iconic dishes, so expect to see new twists on these dishes. All the comfort consumers love, but with trendier ingredients and flavors. There are entire restaurants, for example, that are dedicated to making modern takes on mac and cheese that include trendier ingredients like sriracha, olives, Indian spices, and Gruyere.

2. Regional American Comfort Foods
AdobeStock 102462724The South is known for its comfort food, and so it’s no surprise that Shrimp & Grits, Biscuits & Gravy, and Chicken & Waffles have made their way into restaurants of all types – everything from QSRs to fine dining – and onto your favorite snacks. Expect to see more regional American influences as consumers continue to demand comfort foods.

AdobeStock 1107363913. Ethnic Influence
Ethnic food, in general, has been among the biggest and most pervasive trends of the last few years. Unsurprisingly, ethnic-inspired comfort foods, like Polish Pierogis and Vietnamese Pho, have grown increasingly popular, as consumers, and specifically, Millennials, have become more adventurous and more curious about other cultures.

Moving Forward with Fuchs

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Tags: Trends, Flavor trends, Comfort Food, Regional American, Southern, Ethnic Trends