Food for hipsters: Trendy treats to perk up your concession menu
I ran across an article a few weeks ago that was fun and interesting, “The 22 Most Hipster Foods on the Planet” by Alison Spiegel with The Huffington Post. It caught my attention because most of the items on the list are available in Dallas, Texas, which is easily accessible to me. It made me think that one of the most interesting trends in the food world right now is our search for new, creative and fresh presentations of things to eat. It’s a complete 180-degree turn from the retail chain restaurant trend in the last few decades of the 20th century. In this century, we seem to be waking up to the beauty of unique restaurants, unique menus and unique items, which are all showing up at the theatre.
It’s a trend that you see in neighborhoods and office complexes with gourmet food trucks. You see it on the menus in local restaurants with artisan breads and freshly prepared desserts. You even see it in QSRs in the form of freshly prepared sandwiches at a burger joint. The joy to be had from this awakening is the ability to find truly interesting food in the U.S. right now, which makes eating fun.
It must be stated that the list is entirely subjective, but did come from a collective group discussion of friends and colleagues at the Post, young, self-proclaimed “hipsters,” with a wide approval rating of the list based on social-media feedback. So here’s the list they came up with, but with my own spin on the implication of each:
1. Cold Brew Coffee, in a Jar. Yeah, coffee anything works in all forms today. Who knew Starbucks was setting out to change the world? The investors, that’s who. All quite rich now…
2. Anything off a Food Truck. If you don’t know about the food truck trend, you are living under a rock.
3. Pickles. I did mention Texas in the opening of this article. We sell TONS of pickles in our theatres in Texas.
4. Brussels Sprouts. Have you noticed the number of places selling this vegetable fried? Did you ever see it on the menu in the ’90s? No.
5. Kombucha. This is a fermented drink of sweetened black tea. If you drink this, you are truly worldly.
6. Bacon. This is not new by itself, it just keeps getting paired with all other sorts of things, like chocolate. But you can never have too much bacon.
7. PBR. Yes, Pabst Blue Ribbon beer. It just won’t die.
8. Kale. In the South we consider this the fancy version of cabbage. It has been on the menu in the last four restaurants I visited.
9. Anything Served in a Mason Jar. I was happy to see this made this list, since I have noticed this as well, with much confusion. You should only be drinking out of these after you eat the vegetables that you canned in them. Anyone? Yeah, that’s what I thought. It’s not about being cool, it’s just Southern recycling.
10. Kimchi. This is a fermented Korean vegetable dish. Again the fermentation, not sure why we like rotten things.
11. Tacos. Anything taco goes in Texas, but fancy tacos have made their complete and forever landing onto the American palate. No going back.
12. Kimchi Tacos. To each his own. But like I said, anything fancy seems to work.
13. Artisanal Anything. I mentioned bread, but this is true. Add the word “artisanal” and suddenly it’s very appealing.
14. Ramps. This is a wild spring vegetable that smells like garlic and tastes like onion. It’s a beautiful thing to eat. Try it.
15. Home Brewed Beer. I have tried doing this; it’s much better when someone else makes your beer.
16. Foraged Anything. Just because it grows wild does not make it good. Holly berries are poisonous. However, some things like wild raspberries are killer good.
17. Vegan Cookies. You can have vegan and you can have cookies. Hard to do them both together and make either one true.
18. Green Juice. If it’s totally green, it’s the cost of a full meal. Because it is.
19. Cauliflower. Lovely vegetable so long denied its wide array of uses. Bring it on.
20. Homemade Soda. Hottest gift this past Christmas was the machine!
21. Craft Beer. Much better than homemade beer, and with style. But still some stinkers that should never make it to any menu.
22. Fancy Doughnuts. Yes. Yes to anything remotely resembling a doughnut.
What can you take away from this list? Consider something new to try at your café or on your expanded concession menu, or just consider what the list is communicating. Expanding what we are doing in the theatre is not the whole end game. Adding fun, interesting items that are not your average mouth-stuffer can help you win the consumer’s heart and soul. Why does that matter? Keeping your operation fresh, trendy, live, hip or whatever you want to call it is what gets the consumer off the couch instead of waiting for the movie to come out on demand. It’s the whole experience. It always is. So as usual, we circle back to square one.
Send your comments to Anita Watts at firstname.lastname@example.org