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Monster Mash: Frankendesserts Scare Up Big Business

Classic Desserts Get RecombinedTastes and markets may evolve, but perennial favorites like chocolate-chip cookies, donuts and ice cream are here to stay. They just morph into fodder for inventive mash-ups and hybrids. Signature desserts that turn traditional staples into exciting new flavor combos are an effective way to stand out in the increasingly crowded dessert market.


Familiar snacks with surprising twists will help to keep pace with the desire for variety

Not only can unique items help foodservice operators differentiate from one another; they can also help them tap into the seemingly insatiable millennial appetite for bold, adventurous flavor experiences. According to research from Futurecast, a marketing consultancy that specializes in millennial and Gen Z foodservice trends, a quest for flavor adventure is a defining characteristic of the coveted millennial cohort, whose yearning for daring taste experiences is much greater than that of previous generations.1

Fresh signature twists on old favorites serve a dual purpose: they tap into the nostalgia of a familiar and comforting item while offering the excitement of novelty at the same time. As surprising as they sometimes seem, these flavor fusions can retain a familiar quality and satisfy a need for both the trusted and the tantalizing.

But as the novelty of mash-ups subsides, renewed emphasis on innovation is required. This need for endless iterations of flavor fusions (what Money magazine dubbed “frankenfoods” that counterbalance the better-for-you trend with an emphasis on sheer delicious delight2) is helping to drive mash-up mania.

As Restaurant Hospitality noted, “Now it seems like you can pull any two awesome bakery items out of a hat and mash them together to sell out of a truck in Brooklyn. We’ve seen the Wookie (waffle and cookie), Scuffin (scone and muffin), the Creffel (French crepe and Belgian waffle), the Bruffin (brioche/muffin) and the Cragel (croissant and bagel).”3

The Mash-up Express Jumps on the Brand Wagon

Opportunities for innovative mash-up concepts are especially high among younger customers, who consume desserts more frequently than their older counterparts and are driven to experience exciting new flavors. No longer restricting dessert to an after-meal sweet treat, they define it more broadly, with 69% surveyed consuming it at least once a week.4 What’s more, 45% of millennials surveyed cite an appealing dessert as an important factor in deciding which restaurant to visit,4 giving restaurant operators more reason to leverage innovative mash-ups as a means of driving traffic.

As today’s consumers continue to propel demand for these innovative concepts, restaurant and other foodservice operators will be on the lookout for the next trendy mash-up, if not creating the trendsetter themselves. Striking a balance between the innovative and the familiar may help give these desserts the broadest appeal.

Mash-ups that leverage brand-name ingredients tend to be especially popular and help determine consumer dessert choices. Survey results show that 62% of consumers prefer desserts with brand-name ingredients, while 29% express a strong preference.4 Consumer perception tends to associate trusted brands with high quality. As a leading topping and mix-in for frozen desserts,4 OREO is an example of a popular brand that lends itself well to dessert mash-ups. Glazed donuts made with CHIPS AHOY! Cookie Pieces take the cronut trend to another level by combining a time-honored snack brand with a perennial dessert favorite.4

While mash-ups may have seemed like monstrosities when they first hit the scene, the business they’ve generated has been beautiful to behold. Operators who include an array of desserts that fuse brand favorites with bold twists may find that their sales look better than ever.

1 Huff, Skyler, The Snack Hack, FutureCast, Feb. 7, 2017

2 Tuttle, Brad, “5 Food Monstrosities You Know You Want to Try,” Money, June 3, 2015

3 Freed, Jason Q., “Menu moves: There’s no stopping the mashup trend,” Restaurant Hospitality, June 10, 2015

4 Technomic, Dessert Webinar, Nov, 12, 2015

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