The nostalgia food trend is still going strong among consumers. Customers crave the comfort of familiarity, and with these tips for modern twists on the classic comforts, you can increase food traffic and revenue.
One bite of a classic comfort dish and it takes people right back to warm childhood memories. That’s the power of nostalgia. During the pandemic, consumers gravitated toward comfort foods, and they’ve only increased in popularity.
Incorporate these classic comfort dishes that evoke feelings of nostalgia to draw in more customers, while applying your own personal touch, all without impacting your bottom line. Just like mom used to make.
Return of the Mac
Not that macaroni and cheese ever really fell out of popularity, but it’s certainly dominated the food scene over the last few years in one form or another. How can you feel anything other than warm and cozy with a bowl of bubbly, melted layers of cheese and filling pasta? And with its versatility, the possibilities to make it your own are endless. Serve it up baked in a home-style casserole dish or get fancy by adding lobster or crabmeat. Double down on the comfort by adding some tater tots and Roma® Gourmet Beef Meatballs for a mac bake that’s sure to please taste buds. Fried mac and cheese bites with a spicy dipping sauce can be another fun way to level up your appetizer game as well.
Sweet Dreams are Made of Cheese
Grilled cheese — another familiar childhood comfort food paired with tomato soup on a rainy day or a sick day at home from school when you’re watching tv. Grilled cheese is a simple addition to your menu, and with just a little creativity, you can elevate this ooey-gooey classic to appeal to modern appetites. Try adding some spicy kimchi with Gouda and harissa mayo on sourdough. Or go a little more indulgent and add some smoked brisket, caramelized onions, and cheddar cheese for the heftier appetites.
Shake, Shake, Shake
Bring all the patrons to the yard—or restaurant with another childhood favorite: milkshakes. Most everyone can remember the days of sipping a creamy, delicious chocolate malt milkshake or ordering a thick shake with hot fudge, whipped cream, and candy to satisfy that sweet tooth. Take that one step further and indulge your customers with over-the-top decadent milkshakes. Pile them high with colorful candies, outrageous toppings like pretzels, chocolate straws, churros, cookie sandwiches, donuts, and more. Customers won’t be able to resist this Instagram-worthy dessert option if it’s on the menu.
Slice, Slice Baby
Ah, pizza. Whether it was a kid’s birthday party, renting a movie at Blockbuster on a Friday night, or Dad burning the dinner again, these cheesy slices of heaven will always reign supreme in people’s hearts. Even if you’re not an Italian restaurant, having a few pizza-inspired dishes can grab that crowd’s attention. Get two comfort foods in one dish with loaded pizza fries. Smother some crispy fries in tomato sauce, fresh mozz, and pepperoni and you will hit customers right in the feels. Draw customers in with a shareable experience by adding pull-apart cheesy pizza sliders, or for a more modern twist, scale up the classic ham and pineapple pizza with arugula, prosciutto, and caramelized onions.
Like mac and cheese, pasta is the perfect comfort food that satisfies the soul no matter what combo of sauces, spices, and cheeses you create. Revamp the traditional cuisine by swapping out regular noodles for pasta made from zucchini or red lentils topped with a hearty tomato sauce and fresh herbs. For the ultimate comfort dish, consider Roma® Cavatelli pasta, topped with a rich, spicy cream sauce. Add some andouille sausage, grilled chicken, peppers, and shrimp for a truly indulgent experience.
Beast of Burger
Most people remember the days of grabbing a quick burger and fries at the drive-thru after school, sharing a coke and cheeseburger at the local greasy spoon with their family, or as a cheap, filling option as a broke college student. While not much beats the classic cheeseburger and fries meal, you can still switch it up to grab customers’ attention. A mini or shareable dish is always appealing for a happy hour special or the late-night crowd. Consider Roma® Gourmet Beef Meatballs to create meatball cheeseburger bites with LTO and a drizzle of spicy ketchup for a nostalgic combo that will keep customers coming back for more. Keeping with that trend, dare to fuse cuisines by offering bacon cheeseburger egg rolls fried up crispy and filled with all the fixins’. Serve with a creamy mayo-based dipping sauce, and you’ve got a nostalgic recipe that appeals to a wide customer base.