It doesn’t only seem that everything old is new again, it is. There’s been a recent rise in nostalgia, led by Millennials (per this article from GenFKC, a website associated with YoungAmerica.org). Polaroid instant cameras for example, have made a big comeback, and so have flannel shirts and acid-washed jeans. Nowhere is the emergence of nostalgia more prevalent than in food. According to Technomic’s MenuMonitor, comfort food is growing at a rate of 34% a year and nostalgia is one of the biggest reasons, says Damon Gordon, culinary director for King Signature Group. But it’s not just any comfort food consumers want; they want healthy comfort food. They want old favorites, but also permissible indulgence to enjoy them, guilt-free.
The Science of Memories
For many of us, our childhoods are filled with memories of carnival rides and fun, ice cream and family barbecues. As reported by the Economic Times, “Food has always been one of the strongest sources of nostalgia. The other life experiences that provide the building blocks of nostalgia may come later, but food always goes back to childhood.” Also, as reported by Time Magazine, “Researchers suggest that when we associate foods with happy memories, the effects are profound, impacting how good we think foods taste as well as how good those foods make us feel.”
Authentic but Healthy Comfort Food
Since nostalgic food makes people feel good, it should be no surprise that consumers crave it. Andrew Freman of restaurant hospitality consultants Freman and Co. was quoted in an article from Food Navigator as saying: “Millennials are growing up and because the world is complicated we are looking back at nostalgic cuisine.” But at the same time, as he points out, consumers can’t ignore “everything they have learned about the connection between health and their diet, so the versions of comfort food they are reaching for will be elevated and better-for-you.”
Although consumers want healthy comfort food, they still demand flavor authenticity. That’s where Edlong shines. Edlong makes permissible indulgence possible by making low sugar, low sodium and lower fat options more delicious. Whether its enhancing the perception of sweetness in low sugar foods, masking off-notes in vegan foods or adding creaminess and richness to gluten-free versions of familiar favorites, Edlong gives consumers the permissible indulgence they crave, making healthy comfort food possible, and delicious. Says Beth Warren, Edlong’s Chief Commercial Officer, “At Edlong we are continuously inspired by global trends, and nostalgia is no exception. We develop the flavors necessary to create nostalgic authenticity even in new food products, and in any market segment.”
The Art and Science of Food Nostalgia
A classic example of comfort food that can be delivered with a new, healthier spin is Mac & Cheese. While many of us may have grown up with a fat and calorie-laden recipe, the experts at Edlong can help product developers turn all Mac & Cheese recipes into healthy comfort food, such as this dairy-free version of Mac & Cheese—a meal any consumer can enjoy, even those who have dairy allergies or are lactose intolerant.
Edlong can also help build nostalgic authenticity in vegan desserts, including our vegan ice cream. We start with a vegan base of all plant-based ingredients and use natural, dairy-free Edlong flavors to build back the mouthfeel and sweetness of ice cream. We can then develop a number of flavor profiles including Toasted Coconut Caramel, an on-trend “Speculoos-Style” ice cream and more.
Tapping into consumer nostalgia for childhood foods is a science; creating those foods with both authenticity and permissible indulgence is an art. Edlong melds science and art to:
- Create the authentic taste of dairy, even in dairy-free or vegan formulations, to appeal to modern consumers
- Create healthier versions of classic indulgent foods
- Achieve trend-forward global or regional profiles to create childhood favorites that appeal to sophisticated grown-up tastes
Plenty of things are new again—but the taste authenticity and versatility of Edlong are not. For more than one hundred years Edlong has been providing the flavors to make healthy comfort foods, and a lot more.