Pumpkin spice lattes and apple pie both conjure up images of fall. However, when it comes to seasonal flavors, there are many other types of foods that pop from October through December. 40% of consumers who dine out have ordered a seasonal item in the past year, and 80% of those people indicate they look forward to fall flavors the most. So, what other flavors are people falling for?
While people are increasingly ordering soup year-round, the majority of people still prefer soup in the colder months2. Heartier flavors are more abundant, like Back Yard Burger’s Loaded Baked Potato soup, or Maggiano’s Shrimp & Corn Chowder3. Traditional items also play a role in the fall, as a result of the holiday season. Stuffing might be served at the Thanksgiving Day table, but it is commonly featured on sandwiches as well. Cosi’s Turkey Stuffing Sandwich (turkey, holiday stuffing, cranberry sauce) and Au Bon Pain’s The Holiday Gobbler Sandwich (white bread, turkey, stuffing, apple chutney, gravy)3 both package holiday excitement, making it easy to consume a festive meal on-the-go.
When it comes to seasonal items, expectations differ depending on the establishment. Consumers are more likely to order seasonal dishes at fine dining establishments because of fresh, local ingredients, while they like the limited nature of offerings at quick service restaurants1. Men and women also differ in what they look for: women are most tempted by craveable, comforting items, while men seek out food that is nostalgic and traditional.
Consumers may fall for different things, but 96% of consumers enjoy seasonal flavors in the fall/winter. Whether it’s a warm, comforting drink, or a hearty sandwich that summons memories of family dinners, limited time offers have the potential for big rewards.