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Our Love Affair with Food that Comforts

Have you ever seen a dish of mac n' cheese, fresh from the oven topped with crispy breadcrumbs and not had your eyes turn into hearts? Summer may be all about smoothies and mocktails but when the weather turns, comfort rules the day. The hashtag #ComfortFood has 6 million uses, compared to only 2.7 million uses last year.

If You're Gonna Be Bad...

...It better be good. At Freddy's Franchise, that's the bottom line, because the chain understands that comfort is dominated by feelings and cravings. The majority of consumers think about what they want to eat before they consider where when dining out. Surrounded by a plethora of options, consumers will default to food they know, love and crave when in a rush to make a choice. And while we know that Americans are striving to eat healthier, this doesn't always apply to eating out in the same way it does to grocery shopping. Cravings aren't seasonal, either -- just check the steady pulse of "comfort food" on Google Trends.

When You're Alone-y, Eat Macaroni

"I think American consumers are really, really -- if you'll pardon the expression -- hungry for [nostalgia]," says Marc Halperin, co-founder of CCD Innovation. In the same interview, Marc notes that the rise and fall of comfort food is intrinsically tied to our -- and our country's - well being. According to one study, stress is the number one cue for craving comfort food. Other feelings can also cause us to give in -- for example when we're depressed or grieving. Is it a coincidence that Kraft released its first mac and cheese during the Great Depression, and sold 9 million boxes in its first year? Maybe, or maybe not.

What This Means For Brands

It is impossible to call comfort food a fad. It is food that is tied to your past, not something simply passing through town. But that doesn't mean it's not in. In fact, that macaroni-mash-potato-ice-cream-sundae-taco-nacho-bolognese dish you crave when you're down will always be in style. And for brands, this means that the secret sauce for your next innovation project might be right under your nose: like Freddy's family-inspired concept, or Kraft Easy Mac Dinner Cups -- a slice of home college students can make in their dorm room microwave.

 

References & Further Reading

  1. Thrillist - Comfort Food...
  2. Women's Health - The Top...
  3. Freddy's Frozen Custard...
  4. Delish - Panera Now Has...
  5. Iconoculture - 2019 BITES
  6. The Vegan Nom
  7. Google Trends - Comfort Food
  8. Chicago Tribune - Kraft...
  9. Temple of Seitan
  10. Iconoculture - Food in 2019

Caitlin Sherwood

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