Sweet Stuff

TASTY TRENDS:  It’s a good day when I get to live vicariously through my own blog topic.  So of course you know I’m talking about food today.  And not just any food, but desserts and the hottest trends in the treats being created and served in restaurants.  According to Food & Wine, the newest trends tasted in the pastry menus include:

Pepper is the new Salt — Salt has been a sweet-salty add to desserts for a bit now, and so pepper is having it’s day, kicking up the heat.  You’ll find pepper in tuiles (which are really thin cookies often used to garnish desserts or to make dessert cups), sables (which is a fancy word for a french shortbread cookie), and cheesecakes.  Pepper gives that sort of unexpected bite to a food, and so this trend is bringing on that surprise, delight — without being too, too hot.

Brown sugar in the spotlight — Although a common ingredient, it’s now being given top-billing on menu items.  Particularly for cakes and cookies.  This ingredient trend feels like a feel-good, comfort-food-ish, almost safe direction for desserts consumers.

Chocolate crémeux — Creamy chocolate pudding.  Side note: the Food & Wine article links to a recipe for a chocolate crémeux that gets topped with olive oil – huh! OK, so I’m terribly sure where this trend fits in the overall mix.  Other than it’s a new spin on things people love most.  Hey, the next one I’m not into, but judge for yourself…

Duck fat, lard, and foie gras — Added to cookies, cream puffs, and, yikes, s’mores .  Um, s’no thanks.  It’s supposed to add a savory element. It feels like an infusion of indulgence…permission to just be bad if you’re going to be bad, and live a little in the moment.  And lastly…

Upside-down cake — This one feels like a retro-comfort-food of a comeback.  My Mom always made a pineapple version in the 70’s.

So there you have it.  Use as inspiration for your weekend cooking — or menu ordering.  Or good cocktail party chit chat, e.g., “speaking of cake, did you know that upside-down cakes have made a come-back…” In any case, hope your weekend is like a good dessert: sweet and satisfying (and filled with chocolate, if you so wish).  TASTY TREND:  Food and Flavor Trends; Feel-Good Foods

I Want Candy

88958425TASTY TREND:  As a trend lover and an admitted “magpie,” shopping for jewelry – the fashion kind, not the Harry Winston level – to me is like a kid-in-a-candy-store experience.  A reasonably priced, cute, beaded necklace?  Please!  I’m pulling out my wallet, already crafting the outfit around it!  So it comes as no surprise to read in this morning’s Wall Street Journal that Accessories, including fashion jewelry, purses, and shoes, are doing well at retail these days.

For retailers, the high margin, easily displayed with little space needed items are a win.  J. Crew, Henri Bendel, and Banana Republic are among the retailers who have leveraged this trend.  So it’s not high-end, aspirational luxury items – but it’s also not cheap throw-aways, either.  And for consumers on tighter budgets, it’s felt to be a fair price to pay to look and feel good — much like the increased sales we’ve read about for other items like chocolate, candy, make-up, and even romance novels.  Here’s the article’s URL in case you need it to feel fashionable and look smart: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124839750310277867.html#mod=article-outset-box

I’m heading out on vacation for the next two weeks.  But with lots of down time, and a new perspective on life (i.e., being down South versus in the NE bubble), I’m sure I’ll continue sharing nuggets as I find them, working around the sun and sand.  TASTY TREND:  Recession Obsession

Magic Shoes

fitflopTASTY TREND:  A few years back, I had a friend who transitioned from working in New York City to where I was in New Jersey.  She had these crazy, almost orthodic looking sneakers that she claimed would make a walking workout more effective in the effort to get fit, strong, and lean.  Fast forward to a few weeks ago, when I spotted the “FitFlop” (see image) in a magazine.  These expensive flops are said to help tone your butt and leg muscles while you walk.  And then move ahead to last evening, and there are those crazy sneakers again in an In Style magazine ad.  They’re now a new product offering from mass footwear maker Skecher.  These costly sneaks ($100+) are promising to get you in shape, “without setting foot in a gym.”  Wow, cue angelic music!

So other than pretending I’m a combination of fashion guru Stacy London and fitness maven Denise Austin, what’s the point in the post?  It’s to spot a Crocs-like trend that’s moving from niche to mass to, eventually, low cost knock-offs.  And much like Crocs — which, I believe are not terribly attractive — this fit-promising footwear demonstrates that product solutions that are easy, multi-tasking, and can help you look better are desirable.  And can command a higher price point.

By the way, for those you who are wondering if they really do work, I’ll include a link to an MSNB article that answered this question last year:  http://doesitwork.msnbc.msn.com/archive/2008/07/17/1204959.aspx.  You may not want to drop your gym membership, and maybe consider walking a little faster or longer.  TASTY TREND:  Multi-tasking mantra;  Magic solution search

Green-B-Q

solobareTASTY TREND:  With the Memorial Day weekend and “summer” just on the on the horizon, green-eco-friendly is a hot product innovation manufacturers are introducing in time for BBQs and outdoor events.  As seen on shelves and in magazines:  Eco friendly disposable serve ware:  Solo’s bare — bare is an assortment of eat on and toss (or recycle or compost) products made from “materials found in nature,” including bamboo, sugar cane, reed, etc. The line features renewable plates (i.e., made with renewable, more natural products and fewer chemical materials), compostable plates and cups (i.e., can be taken to a commercial composting facility), recyclable cups (i.e., can be recycled in most communities).   To allay any price fears, Solo claims these products are a good value and high quality.  Also seen:  Reynolds Wrap 100% Recycled Foil — You can think green as you fire up the grill and pull out the foil made from recycled aluminum.  Even the packaging is from 100% recovered paper and water-based inks.

It seems eco-friendly is here to stay and can be a status symbol of sorts, demonstrating that a consumer makes smart choices, even at a BBQ.  So beyond relish on your hot dog, be on the lookout for more green ahead.  TASTY TREND:  Feeling good about doing good;  Eco chic

Tree for Two and Two for Trees

threadlessTASTY TREND:  Zazzle and Threadless.  Both user generated tee shirt web communities.  Both announcing plant-a-tree incentives with purchase (Zazzle’s headline BTW is “Tree-shirt Relief”).  One shared creative idea for one small, small — now getting greener — world.  Where is that Shel Silverstein?!  See blog post “Tree Trend?” from last week.  TASTY TREND:  Feeling good about doing good.

Tree Trend?

85981667TASTY TREND:  What do Disney, Payless Shoes, Coca-Cola, and Shel Silverstein all have in common?  They’re all about GIVING TREES!  It seems the green-eco-friendly concept du jour is to have a tree planted in exchange for a purchase.  Whether it’s movie tickets, or shoes, or soda.  Could plantings be the “new reusable tote” or “beyond the gas card phenom” in the premium and incentive world?  Alas…at least it’s all good, and doing good.  As a side note, I just crack myself up with the Shel Silverstein add in — particulary as a reader of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series (Shel’s angry photo on the back cover of “The Giving Tree” frightens the lead character).  Anyway…I digress.  Back to blogging!  TASTY TREND:  Feeling good about doing good

Growing Trend

sb10063003bb-001TASTY TREND:  Chocolate, Candy, Beer, Lipstick, Comfort Foods…now Gardening and Seeds.  What is: “Categories that are doing well in a recession? Alex” (Jeopardy style blog post start.)  This morning’s Marketing Daily notes interesting stats about a growing (pun intended) interest among consumers in Gardening.  Partly due to the recession, but also being driven by health and wellness, and, to some extent, food recalls (which is also wellness related):

62% of gardeners are saying that the recession is motivating them to plant.  About 58% say they just want better-tasting food, 54% want to lower food bills, 51% want better-quality food, and 48% want to know that their produce is safe.

Sales of organic seeds in particular, are up 46% over last year.

Personally, having a “black thumb,” I think I’ll stick to Chocolate as my recession obsession of choice.  TASTY TREND:  Recession Obsession