Friday, October 15, 2010

Food Trend Tracking

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So, sometimes I get brilliant ideas (at least I think they are brilliant ideas), and then they end up being just a teensy bit more difficult to execute than I had in mind. This post would be one of them. I put a lot of work in to this one, so I'd appreciate any comments or tips for making this graphic a little more user friendly. Or, at least vote below. Anyway, let me get to my point.

Back in the day, I posted about our local addiction to the next best thing in food. Little did I know, years later, we would still be embracing those same trends. So, for your reference, a timeline of the most popular DC foodie fads. Perhaps not foodies, because these places would not all still be in business if the clientele were limited to foodies. Man, do we love our pizza, cupcakes, and burgers. With FroYo being the one semi-healthy exception, it's a wonder we're not walking oompa-loompas.

With that, I pose to you, what will be the next food trend? As I've been tweeting, I vote macarons (or maybe it's wishful thinking, but at least some are on their way, along with other French confections, dangerously close to my office). But, more to the point, what do you, valued readers, think? Gourmet salad bars? Delis (we need em)? Other thoughts? Please share your insight. I've created a poll...


iEatDC said...

The sandwich. Taylor Gourmet style. You can start your chart there with Italian Store and its popular subs, then move to Taylor gourmet opening (and then opening again, and again) and maybe even include FoBoGro. It's underway, but it's not talked about as much as it could be!

Manimal said...

I'm definitely going with gourmet salad bars - think of an upscale version of the California chain Sweet Tomatoes. I think this area will go go a bit crazy on the farm-to-table stuff, and this is next.

Patrick said...

I've thought for a while that a smart potential for grabbing some food fad market share would be gourmet brownies. Similar to cupcakes, they're very low in production cost with plenty of room for mark-up. Again akin to the cupcake, the brownie is a canvas that lends itself to a seemingly endless amount of creative fidgeting. More importantly, it's also a canvas that almost every child has grown up admiring.

Although I love the thought of a Macaroon shop across the street, I doubt the pretentious puff's ability to pull the kind of wide-based appeal necessary to make it a lasting staple of DC food culture. Everyone grew up with burgers, pizza, salads, cupcakes and (to a lesser, yet still substantial degree) frozen yogurt. Each of these was already ingrained in our emotional and gustatory foundations. Build a shrine to one of these foods for which we associate the comforts of our childhood freedom (or really any number of other emotional ties we've made to it over the course of our lives) and dress it up with various pieces of flare that can be customized by customer on demand - then you have a winning and sustainable idea.

Unfortunately (and judging by the poll response, I'm sure my opinion will be unpopular), not so for the Macaroon. The crispy puffy goodness that is the Macaroon simply has never been a mainstay of American eatery. I would speculate most random Joes and Jills you stopped on the street would tell you they can't remember the last time, first time or any time they had one. Many probably have no clue what one even is. The name itself has an air of pretension - something that doesn't bode well for mass appeal. Hence, my humble opinion is that the enterprise is doomed to fail.

Brownies it is folks. Someone please make the move and satisfy all our cravings for warm gooey comfort in a square. Now that's childhood in a pan!

W. Mark Felt, Sr. said...

Thanks for the insights.

iEatDC, I thought about sandwiches, whether it's a current trend or whether the sandwich will take of yet, it's not quite a fad, and sandwiches can be interpreted so broadly. Decided to go with deli instead.

Manimal, if we have salad bars, will my Midwestern dad make the trip out here more often?

Patrick, love the thorough analysis. I do love a good brownie, but they seem so similar to cupcakes - you can even make a brownie cupcake. If you are right though, no complaints from me!

Whatever the next trend, with food trucks so popular right now, the trend will likely have to be available in some kind of mobile format.

iEatDC said...

I'd be happy to accept brownies as the next big thing. They are more portable than cupcakes and macarons. Cupcakes can't really be tossed in a bag, because they get smooshy and melty. I've been there, and it's not pretty.

Sharon said...

I love macarons but don't see it as a big enough fad to sustain its own store. My vote would be for salad - really good salad - to take off next. Not the kind of salad you get from Panera, but fresh, organic produce.

Anonymous said...

Where does the food truck trend fall in this? I still don't get it.

I predict the next thing is the cakey lollipop things on a stick like makes.

W. Mark Felt, Sr. said...

Sharon, exactly my thoughts on salads as a potential trend...quality fresh organic produce leads to delicious salads (unlike, say, Panera, where added proteins and dressing help out their salads - which are still mediocre at best).

Anonymous, see my previous comment on the food trucks. Trucks have popped up with such a fury, they are more than just a trend, and other trends are going to have to embrace the mobile craze.