Nevin Barich is the Food & Beverage analyst for Industry Intelligence, a Los Angeles-based market intelligence firm. It's the perfect job for him: He loves junk food, he often works besides a glass of Diet Dr. Pepper, and anytime one of the health nuts in his office gives him grief for eating a Big Mac, he gets to smile and say: "Hey, this is my job." Email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.
In Back To The Future Part II, Marty McFly travels to the year 2015 and enters a restaurant called Cafe 80s. He’s greeted by two television versions of Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev upselling menu items. Another TV shows Michael Jackson going through the menu with a customer. A bottle of “Pepsi Perfect” rises up from a clear plastic tube within the counter.
While the restaurants of 2018 haven’t quite manifested this 1989 prediction, we may not be that far off. (more…)
I know this is going to sound egotistical, but I just can’t help myself: I love being right!
At the end of every year in just about every major consumer goods industry, experts offer predictions of the trends you can expect to see in the following year. So in my last blog of 2017, I wrote about five trends, one of which was value menus: (more…)
It’s the end of 2017, when all the “experts” in the fast food industry get to talk about the trends they expect for the following year. Basically, it’s the time of year we all get to pretend that we’re smarter than we really are.
Having said that, I do have some thoughts on what the future will hold. So here’s my list of the top fast food trends for 2018: (more…)
I don’t know about you, but to me, the words fast food and diet don’t exactly go together. I think of fast food as burgers, French fries, and fried chicken. Meanwhile, the word diet invokes thoughts of organic vegetables, rice cakes, and quinoa.
I recently traveled to Israel for the first time. During my trip, I acquainted myself well with the local cuisine: Lamb, shawarma, falafel, fish. I even tried hummus, though I never liked it back in the States (I didn’t like it in Israel, either). Eventually, as is my wont, I was craving fast food, specifically pizza. At the airport in Tel Aviv waiting to board my flight, I saw a welcome sight: Pizza Hut.
I ran — literally ran — over there, with thoughts of a gooey cheese pan pizza with olives and mushrooms dancing around in my head. But when I looked at the menu, I was surprised that in addition to pizza, Israeli Pizza Huts serve quiche. (more…)
When I was growing up, my process for finding fast food to meet my dietary needs went like this: I’d pore over the major chains’ nutritional information, which wasn’t easy to find back then, to identify menu items that were lower in fat and calories. I loved (and still love) fast food, so I had many a meal that featured Taco Bell’s Border Lights Burrito Supreme (eight grams of fat) or a grilled chicken sandwich from McDonald’s (250 calories). That was how I lost 60 lbs. as a teenager.
But today’s dieters have different and more varied needs. Some are gluten conscious. Some focus specifically on cutting down on added sugar. Others are looking to eat more protein-rich foods. And then there are those who want more plant-based diets. (more…)
Last month, Chick-fil-A began offering gluten-free buns at all of its U.S. locations, following a successful test run in three cities last year. Consumers reacted positively to the buns made from quinoa and amaranth, but there’s a small catch: Because Chick-fil-A’s kitchens aren’t gluten-free, the buns are individually packaged, meaning consumers must assemble their own sandwiches. (Plus they have to pay an extra $1.15).
Though Chick-fil-A’s buns are the latest gluten-free offering in fast food, it’s hardly the first. I’ve assembled this list of some gluten-free offerings from several major chains: (more…)
I remember when the McDonald’s near my house began offering free soda refills. As a kid, it was a revelation! Unlimited soda with my Quarter Pounder with cheese.
Next, fast food chains began offering self-serve machines. So not only was I able to have unlimited soda, but I could get it myself without having to wait in line for the person behind the counter to refill it for me (and without the embarrassment of going up to the register three or four times to ask for more Diet Coke).
Now, there’s a new evolution in fast food and sodas: Coca-Cola Freestyle machines. Introduced in 2009, the Freestyle is a touchscreen machine that features up to 165 different Coca-Cola drink products and custom flavors. In addition to the widely available Coke and Sprite products, sodas such as Mello Yello, Barq’s creme soda, flavored Dasani water, and Powerade are offered, as well as flavored syrups to mix in, such as cherry, vanilla, and grape. (more…)
Recently, while at the drive-thru at my local McDonald’s, I noticed a poster that read, “Kale. Time To Meet A Real-Life Superfood.”
I grew up on fast food, like the Big Mac value meal I was waiting on. Everyone accepted that virtually the entire fast food menu was bad for you. In the 80s and 90s, there were no posters about kale. Heck, no one knew what kale was! (more…)
My friends and I were in Las Vegas recently for our annual guys’ trip. One evening we headed over to Caesar’s Palace to try the Bacchanal Buffet. Despite its $60 price tag, we were excited to try it because we heard it was the best buffet in Vegas.
Apparently, we weren’t the only ones who had heard. As we walked down a long hallway well off the casino floor, we were stopped halfway down by a sea of people waiting in line to enter. You couldn’t even see the buffet from the line’s end!
My friends and I looked at each other and considered our options. On one hand, this was easily a two-plus hour wait. On the other, we all had this buffet on the brain, so eating elsewhere was bound to be a disappointment.
But then fate (and the power of technology) found an answer. My friend Jeremy started typing away furiously on his iPhone and declared, “Hey guys, for $20 extra we can get a front-of-the-line pass!” (more…)