Author: Kim Pitsko, Digital Marketing Manager, Georgia State University MBA
Ah, fall, when the drop of a single leaf can trigger an avalanche of legging, Ugg boot, crocheted scarf and over-sized sweater sightings. And what goes best with these festive outfits? Of course, the taste of fall’s signature flavor: pumpkin.
Sure, Martha Stewart has deemed it basic and the #pumpkineverything trend seems overdone. But as much as we can laugh over lines of people anxiously waiting for their pumpkin spice lattes at a certain well-known coffee chain, the dollars dropped by these pumpkin-heads and their like are no joke. Business Insider notes that consumer demand for new flavors and experiences drives food and restaurant marketing, making the flavor and fragrance category account for about $25 billion in annual US sales as of 2016.
Are taste buds truly that economically powerful? Possibly, but $25 billion probably can’t be attributed to flavor notes alone. Pumpkin spice seems to be an emotional trigger, evoking feelings of warmth, comfort and cozy fall days. The start of the fall season also heightens consumer anticipation and activities, heralding the advent of popular family- and food-oriented holidays, including Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Why else is pumpkin important in the food industry? Because of an economics concept that we all learned back in high school: the value of scarcity. Since consumers can’t get their taste buds on their favorite seasonal flavor at just any time of the year, the value of pumpkin flavored treats spikes in demand for the product. Adding seasonality to the menu also helps restaurateurs stand out from the same-old-same-old competition, and creates year-round reasons to lure foot traffic back in to see what’s new.
So maybe you’re reading this because you’re a restaurateur thinking about adding some pumpkin spice and everything nice to the menu for a couple months. Or you may be a Dinova foodie wondering how you can get your hands on pumpkin-flavored menu items this season while you’re out and about for business. Regardless, we’re here to inspire you, pumpkin. Here’s a glimpse of the #pumpkineverything seasonal dishes on the menu of some of our restaurants within the Dinova Marketplace. Be sure to search our marketplace to find restaurants near you, and click through their web sites and menus to check out what tasty morsels they’re offering right now.
First, let’s start with some breakfast items. Oftentimes you’re on the go, getting your workday morning started, probably looking for a way to keep up your
energy with a healthy treat. Pumpkin-flavored foods don’t often evoke thoughts of health-conscious meals, but that doesn’t have to be the case. Le Pain Quotidien has a unique take on the pumpkin fad with their very own trail mix called Crunola. This vegan, gluten-free mix is made with raw ingredients – including Austrian pumpkin seeds – to keep you nourished throughout the work day. It’s not only a great start for the morning, but a healthy pick-me-up for the afternoon.
Now, let’s talk lunch. For a warm, cozy treat to break up the monotony of meetings and presentations, look no further than Au Bon Pain. Every season they feature their famous Harvest Pumpkin Soup. This delightful meal is the ultimate sensory experience of the warmth and comfort during the first feeling of a cool breeze. Harvest Pumpkin Soup is vegetarian and simmered with onion, celery and carrots and lightly seasoned with fresh ginger and cinnamon.
Perhaps you’re looking for a sweet treat to offer to clients and/or co-workers midday. Lightweight snacks can have a fall-flavored twist thanks to Veggie Grill’s Pumpkin Spice Cake. This bundt cake drenched with a lightweight cream cheese glaze is a perfect add-on to your healthy lunch, and you won’t feel guilty about eating it!
Another option is Newk’s Pumpkin Cream Cheese Cake. Hand-crafted in their famed bakery, this pumpkin spice cake is made with a dozen layers of cake and hand-whipped cream cheese frosting topped with crunchy walnuts.
Looking for a more traditional option? The OG to pumpkin foods is, of course, pumpkin pie. Bob Evans features delicious Pumpkin Pie year-round, which they traditionally prepare with just a hint of cinnamon and nutmeg.
Finally, there’s one patch in the pumpkin scene that we haven’t addressed yet, and it involves our yearly yearnings to visit pumpkin farms and festivals. Sure, you can scour any number of traditional stores with the kids for your best jack-o-lantern, but why not use your purchasing power to give back? There are plenty of organizations that donate portions of revenue from their pumpkin patches to important causes, and our restaurant partners are no exception. In our hometown of Atlanta, Muss & Turner’s is hosting their annual pumpkin patch honoring the memory of Chef Ryan Hidinger and his favorite holiday, Halloween. This Atlanta gem is selling locally sourced pumpkins for $13.13 each, with all proceeds going back to The Giving Kitchen – an organization founded by Hidinger himself that offers financial assistance to restaurant workers in need of emergency funds. Check your local restaurants to see what opportunities they have to give back this season – it’s a unique bonding moment that you can have with your co-workers and clients.
What are some pumpkin-flavored treats you love in the fall, and how do you make #pumpkineverything work for your office setting? Inspire us this season in the comments section below!
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