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Put Your Finger on the Culinary TrendPulse

Put Your Finger on the Culinary TrendPulse

by David Klemt

Elote or street corn-style dish on a table

An informative and engaging culinary trend report from Campbell’s Foodservice provides compelling insight that will help operators refresh their menus.

Recently, Campbell’s dropped their Culinary TrendPulse 2024 report. To download your own copy, click here.

Executive chef Gerald Drummond and senior chef Greg Boggs have identified four culinary trends for 2024. The chefs analyzed data provided by Campbell’s Foodservice and the company’s partners.

As has become commonplace, Campbell’s also took note of food and flavor social media mentions and conversations. This makes sense; if people are talking about it on social media, it’s probably growing in demand.

Now, I’m going to share each of the trends below. However, I’m going to laser in on one in particular. My reasoning is simple: It’s a compelling take on segment that has been experiencing growth, along with the accompanying growing pains.

To start, though, a brief look at three of the 2024 culinary trends identified by Chefs Drummond and Boggs.

TrendPulse 2024: Trends 1, 3 and 4

To put it bluntly, I think the first trend in this report is here to stay. It’s safe to say it has reached the proliferation stage.

So, when I see “global cuisine” in reports, I don’t really consider it a trend. What I want to see is specific cuisines, dishes or flavors identified as trending.

Fortunately, Chefs Drummond and Boggs have identified three global cuisines on the rise. Per the chefs and Campbell’s, Mexican, Asian, and North African cuisines are on an upward trend in the US.

In particular, operators should be aware of the following:

  • Asian cuisine: Korean, Souteast Asian, and Thai food are on the rise.
  • Mexican cuisine: birria, quesabirria, birriamen, chamoy, and street corn mentions have grown in menu mentions and social discussions.
  • North African cuisine is projected to grow by more than 12 percent on menus, year over year. Currently, operators should look at harissa, tagine, and peri-peri (a.k.a. piri-piri, or peli-peli).

Another trend from this report is “new nostalgia.” As the term suggests, consumers are showing interest in creative spins on well-known comfort foods.

Likely driven at least in part by global cuisines, heat is also on the rise. I mean that figuratively and literally.

Per a Tastewise data point cited in the Campbell’s report, sweet and spicy mentionsknown as “swicy”—have grown nearly 50 percent over the past year.

TrendPulse 2024: Trend 2

Alright, so here’s the trend that stands out to me.

According to Chefs Drummond and Boggs, consumers are still very much interested in plant-based cuisine. However, they want actual plants to be the stars.

Or, as Campbell’s puts it in their report, one of their top trends is “putting plants back in plant-based.” Interestingly, this trend fits with the first one in the Campbell’s report: global cuisine.

Per a Technomic report cited by Campbell’s, 41 percent of consumers eat a vegetarian or vegan dish at least once per week. However, it seems that these same consumers are showing a preference for actual plants.

Most plant-based meat alternatives are processed foods. In fact, some sources designate them “ultra-processed foods.” Today’s consumer is more educated on processed foods and seeks to avoid them.

So, operators should menu more dishes that feature plants. There’s a place for plant-based meat alternatives but their highly processed nature may be putting off a not-insignificant number of consumers.

In their report, Campbell’s suggests offering dishes featuring the following proteins: beans, legumes, and pulses.

Look, trend predictions are guesses. In this case, they’re data-driven and educated, but they’re still guesses. When considering menu changes, operators need to make choices that make sense for their business, guests, and market.

If you’re like me, you’ve noticed that all four of these trends pair well with one another. Operators should encourage their kitchen teams to get creative and craft new dishes that leverage two or more of the above trends.

Image: Aleisha Kalina on Unsplash

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WhistlePig Launches Dank January

WhistlePig Launches Dank January

by David Klemt

WhistlePig Dank Dank & Dry Old Fashioned Cocktail

You’ve heard of Dry January but WhistlePig Whiskey wants to usher in Dank January, and they’re giving back to bartenders to make it happen.

The craft whiskey producer, a finalist in the second annual Liquor Awards for Sustainable Producer of the Year, has released a head-turning new alcohol-free expression.

Already sold out at the time of publication, the limited edition Dank & Dry Old Fashioned promises a unique drinking experience. Luckily, we secured our Hot Box Bundle (information below) prior to this terpene-supercharged bottle selling out.

This eccentric bottle features reverse-distilled WhistlePig Piggyback Rye, which becomes Rye Non-Whiskey. WhistlePig blended the alcohol-free non-whiskey with barrel-aged maple syrup. Of course, that in and of itself would make for a fantastic bottled craft cocktail. However, its another ingredient that really stands out.

WhistlePig added what they’re calling Old Fashioned Terpenes to the non-whiskey and syrup. These terpenes were cultivated from cannabis that had been grown in whiskey barrels. To create the Old Fashioned Terpenes, the terpenes from the barrel-grown cannabis were isolated by Satori Premium Cannabis, a producer located in Vermont.

Before anyone rushes to any conclusions, no, Dank & Dry won’t get you high. Terpenes are aromatic compounds, not psychoactive. So, this limited edition bottled cocktail won’t get you drunk, high, or otherwise buzzed.

What it will do, I suspect, is deliver a truly unique flavor experience. I’ll report back with my thoughts after it arrives and I get to sit with it for a bit.

This bottle is also helping bartenders as 100-percent of Dank & Dry proceeds are set to go to Turning Tables. With any luck, WhistlePig will be inspired to bring this bottle back for every Dry (or Dank) January going forward.

Dank January is the New Dry January with WhistlePig’s Non-Alc, Terpene Maple Old Fashioned

World’s First Dank & Dry Cocktail Puff-Puff-Passes 100% of Proceeds to Bartenders

SHOREHAM, Vt.–WhistlePig Whiskey, the leader in independent craft whiskey, is highjacking Dry January with a Limited Edition Dank & Dry Old Fashioned Cocktail. Known for pushing the boundaries of whiskey making to craft the world’s best and most interesting whiskeys, WhistlePig is elevating the non-alcoholic cocktail experience with the addition of non-psychoactive cannabis terpenes to its signature Barrel Aged Maple Old Fashioned recipe. 100% of the proceeds of this Dank January Limited Edition will benefit the bartending community.

Crafted with 100% Rye Non-Whiskey, Barrel-Aged Maple Syrup and Vermont Cannabis Terpenes, the new terps non-alc is a salad bowl of superior ingredients never-before-seen in a non-alcoholic Old Fashioned. WhistlePig’s reverse distilled PiggyBack Rye ‘Non-Whiskey’ is balanced with Barrel-Aged Maple and locally sourced Old Fashioned Terpenes for a chronic non-alc cocktail experience. The non-psychoactive terpenes were cultivated from cannabis grown in whiskey barrels, and isolated by Satori Premium Cannabis in the Green Mountain State.

“At the intersection of non-alc and cannabis trends, terpenes offer a new frontier for flavor that we couldn’t resist experimenting with,” said Meghan Ireland, WhistlePig Head Blender. “The results are fire, with terpenes adding aromas and mouthfeel that are often missing from non-alc innovation. Whether you’re still walking the hog, enjoying the electric lettuce, or abstaining altogether, WhistlePig fans do not have to miss out on a great tasting Old Fashioned this January.”

WhistlePig’s Dank & Dry Old Fashioned Cocktail is available as both a ‘One Hitter’ (single 750ml bottle) for $49.99 MSRP or in the ‘Hot Box Bundle’ with the addition of a pig-shaped cocktail smoker and ‘dime baggie’ of cocktail smoking chips for $64.20 MSRP. Each bottle is presented in a Reefer Madness inspired gift box emblazoned with WhistlePig’s original logo (since retired) with the pig wielding a left-hoof-cigarette.

As a toke-n of thanks for bartenders who work their tails off during the holiday season only to be left high and dry in January, WhistlePig is puff-puff-passing 100% of Dank & Dry Old Fashioned proceeds to bartenders through Turning Tables, a New Orleans based non-profit whose vision is to cultivate leadership, create real opportunity and change the face of hospitality by establishing a model and standard for equitable access for the Black & Brown hospitality community of New Orleans.

WhistlePig Dank & Dry Old Fashioned is available online while supplies last.

To learn more about WhistlePig Whiskey, visit whistlepigwhiskey.com. You can also check out WhistlePig Whiskey on Facebook, X and Instagram.

About WhistlePig Whiskey

Located off the grid on a 500-acre Vermont farm, WhistlePig Whiskey is crafted by a new generation of whiskey distillers and blenders driven to reinvent and unlock the flavor of Rye whiskey. Through their rebellious pursuit of experimenting and pushing boundaries in the industry, WhistlePig has become the leading independent craft whiskey brand for innovation. WhistlePig is committed to becoming the best whiskey on and for the planet, starting with its locally sourced ingredients and sustainable supply chain and distilling process. For more information, head to whistlepigwhiskey.com.

About Turning Tables

Turning Tables was launched in 2019 by industry leaders and mentors who found a thirst for community and opportunity among Black and Brown hospitality professionals looking to take their careers to the next level. The Turning Tables 12-week intensive program connects each cohort of individuals with a foundation in spirits, cocktail and wine knowledge with access to career pathways within the three tier system, restaurant and bar management, trade advocacy, marketing, and hospitality leadership. Their process is both experiential and classroom-oriented. They partner with employers, brands and like-minded individuals who recognize pervasive racism and inequity in the industry and want to join them in challenging it.

Image: WhistlePig Whiskey

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Peppermint is the Latest Flavor Superstar

Peppermint is the Latest Flavor Superstar

by David Klemt

A candy cane surrounded by red smoke in a studio

Just when you think you have a handle on seasonal flavors, along comes the latest and greatest demand from consumers: peppermint.

Perhaps it’s because pumpkin spice shows up earlier each year. Maybe it’s because that hit of frosty peppermint hits the nostalgia button.

It could be as simple as consumers thinking:

  • pumpkin is for fall; and
  • peppermint is for winter.

Regardless, it appears that people are turning their attention to peppermint.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that pumpkin and pumpkin spice are out of favor completely. A recent trip to a grocer with shelves devoid of pumpkin butter and other pumpkin spice flavors show me people are still snapping it up.

And no, it wasn’t a product shift; staff says those products are flying out the door after each restock.

Instead, I think people are just ready for the next thing. In this case, the next flavor thing. And that flavor, it seems, is peppermint.

Considering that pumpkin spice LTOs appeared in early August this year, it makes sense for many consumers to want something new. After all, they’ve had four months to indulge their pumpkin and pumpkin spice cravings. That’s a third of the year.

Peppermint on the Rise

When delving into F&B and hospitality trends I tend to look at Datassential and Technomic. Both are credible, reliable sources of information.

However, I’m turning to another source, Tastewise, to dive into pumpkin spice and peppermint. For the unfamiliar, Tastewise is an F&B insight platform that uses artificial intelligence to collect real-time consumer behavior data.

First up, pumpkin spice. According to Tastewise, the flavor is up nearly 75 percent in terms of social conversations in 2023. Additionally, four percent of restaurants in the US have pumpkin spice items on their menus. That may not sound like a lot, but that’s more than 33,000 restaurants.

Now, let’s look at peppermint. Per Tastewise, social conversations about this frosty flavor are up almost 22 percent this year. However, peppermint liqueur conversations are up just over 77 percent.

Interestingly, according to Tastewise, peppermint items are on almost eight percent of menus in the US. That’s more than 67,000 restaurants, over double the amount of pumpkin spice.

One note: peppermint is not the same as mint. While peppermint is trending (most likely due to seasonal shift), mint is down nearly 109 percent. So, not all mint flavors and items are equal. This seems particularly true at the moment.


Is everyone on social media, talking about food? No, of course not.

It’s important to note, though, Tastewise’s current market overview. At the time of publication, Tastewise is scanning:

  • 8,151,698 people on social media;
  • 57,220,294 social media posts;
  • 937,070 restaurants;
  • 136,278,759 dishes; and
  • 5,878,416 recipes.

Operators can and should take industry insights with a grain of salt. Not every fad, trend or item works for every operator and concept.

However, it’s important to know what consumers are talking about and posting to social media. Being a part of some conversations can be a boon for an operator and their bottom line.

So, if introducing a peppermint LTO (or LTOs) will appeal to an operator’s guestsbecause they take the time to understand them and track their menu item salesand works with their concept authentically, they should consider becoming a part of this conversation.

Image: Shutterstock. Disclaimer: This content was generated by an Artificial Intelligence (AI) system.

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The Science of Flavour Pairing

Unlocking Culinary Magic: The Science of Flavour Pairing

by Nathen Dubé

A red pepper resting on top of a bar of chocolate

In the world of culinary arts, there exists a fascinating and almost mystical aspect that elevates a dish from ordinary to extraordinary: flavour pairing.

The art of flavour pairing is like a symphony of tastes and aromas, orchestrated to create harmonious and memorable dining experiences. As a chef consultant, I invite you to embark on a culinary journey that delves deep into the science and creativity behind flavour pairing.

Whether you are a seasoned industry professional or a curious food enthusiast, this article will unveil the secrets of culinary magic that lie within this art and science.

The Science Behind Flavour Pairing

To truly understand the art of flavour pairing, one must first grasp the science that underpins it.

Flavour pairing isn’t just about randomly combining ingredients. Rather, it’s about exploiting the complex interactions between different compounds that create flavours.

Here’s a brief look at the science.

The Flavour Wheel

Imagine a vast wheel with hundreds of spokes, each representing a distinct flavour. This is the flavour wheel, a tool that categorizes flavours into primary, secondary, and tertiary categories.

Understanding this wheel helps chefs identify complementary flavours and build balanced profiles.

The primary flavours include sweet, sour, salty, and bitter, while the secondary flavours encompass umami, fatty, and astringent notes. Tertiary flavours delve even deeper, encompassing specific aromatic compounds found in various ingredients.

The flavour wheel serves as a roadmap for chefs, allowing them to create harmonious and balanced dishes by combining flavours from different categories.

For example, pairing a salty ingredient like prosciutto with sweet melon exploits the contrast between saltiness and sweetness for a delightful taste experience.

Chemical Compounds

Flavour compounds are the building blocks of taste and aroma. These compounds are responsible for the diverse spectrum of flavours we encounter in food.

Understanding which compounds are shared between ingredients is key to successful flavour pairing.

A well-known example of shared aroma compounds is the presence of vanillin in both vanilla beans and oak barrels used for aging wine. Vanillin is a key aroma compound responsible for the sweet and creamy notes in vanilla. When wines are aged in oak barrels, they can acquire subtle vanilla and spice undertones from the wood, creating a harmonious and recognizable flavour pairing in wines, especially in the case of oak-aged Chardonnay or red Bordeaux wines.

This shared compound, vanillin, illustrates how we can derive the same aroma compound from different sources (vanilla beans and oak barrels) and contribute to the complexity and appeal of various culinary creations, enhancing both desserts and wines.

Contrast and Harmony

Flavour pairing often revolves around the concept of contrast and harmony.

Some pairings work because they contrast flavours, creating excitement and intrigue. Others harmonize, creating a seamless and balanced taste experience.

Consider the classic contrast between sweet and sour in dishes like sweet and sour chicken. The sweetness of the sauce contrasts with the tanginess of vinegar, resulting in a harmonious yet exciting combination.

On the other hand, a harmonious pairing might involve complementary flavours that meld together seamlessly. Think of the classic combination of tomatoes and basil in a Caprese salad. The earthy, herbaceous notes of basil harmonize beautifully with the juicy sweetness of ripe tomatoes.


The fifth taste, umami, has gained prominence in recent years.

Umami is often described as a savory or meaty taste, and it can be used to elevate a wide range of dishes.

Ingredients that are rich in umami—mushrooms, soy sauce, and Parmesan cheese, for example—can enhance and deepen the overall flavour of a dish.

One popular example of umami-rich flavour pairing is the combination of Parmesan cheese with ripe tomatoes. The umami in the cheese amplifies the tomato’s natural sweetness and creates a more complex and satisfying flavour profile.

Classic Flavour Pairings

Now that we’ve dipped our toes into the science of flavour pairing, let’s explore some classic pairings that have stood the test of time.

Salt and Sweet

This classic pairing is all about balance. The saltiness enhances the sweetness in dishes like salted caramel and chocolate-covered pretzels. The contrast is what makes it so delightful.

When it comes to savoury dishes, the addition of a touch of salt can elevate the overall flavour. Consider how a pinch of salt can enhance the sweetness of roasted vegetables or a perfectly seared steak.

Acid and Fat

The acidity in ingredients like lemon or vinegar can cut through the richness of fatty dishes, creating balance.

Think of a zesty vinaigrette dressing on a buttery avocado salad. The acidity brightens the dish and prevents it from feeling overly heavy.

Spicy and Cool

Combining spicy and cooling elements can create a dynamic and memorable flavour experience.

For example, a fiery hot sauce paired with a creamy yogurt dip offers a pleasing contrast of temperature and sensation. The coolness of the yogurt soothes the heat of the spice, creating a balanced and exciting flavour profile.

Savoury and Sweet

The umami-rich savoury notes of ingredients like bacon or prosciutto can beautifully complement the sweetness of fruits, as seen in dishes like melon wrapped in prosciutto.

The salty, savoury elements create a perfect counterpoint to the natural sweetness of the fruit.

Herbs and Citrus

The fresh, aromatic qualities of herbs like basil, cilantro, or mint can be elevated when paired with the zingy brightness of citrus fruits.

The combination of fresh herbs and citrus can add layers of flavour to salads, marinades, and cocktails.

Modern Flavour Pairing Techniques

While classic pairings are timeless, modern culinary innovation has taken flavour pairing to new heights.

Here are some cutting-edge techniques and trends to explore.

Molecular Gastronomy

This avant-garde approach to cooking employs scientific principles to create unexpected flavour combinations.

Techniques like spherification and foaming can transform ordinary ingredients into extraordinary culinary creations.

For instance, the technique of spherification involves transforming liquid ingredients into tiny, flavorful spheres with a thin membrane. These spheres can burst with flavour in your mouth, creating a unique and memorable dining experience.

Imagine a burst of basil-infused olive oil encapsulated in a delicate sphere served alongside a tomato salad.

Global Fusion

As our world becomes more connected, so do our culinary influences.

Chefs are exploring fusion cuisine, merging ingredients and techniques from different cultures to create exciting and unexpected flavour pairings.

For example, Korean tacos combine the bold flavours of Korean barbecue with the convenience of a taco, resulting in a fusion dish that offers a delightful balance of sweet, spicy, and savory elements.

Experimenting with flavors, techniques and combinations both classic and new, and mastering an array of techniques will elevate any kitchen team’s skills. In turn, that team will elevate the menu, restaurant, and guest experience.

Image: Karolina Grabowska via Pexels

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Datassential: The Flavors of 2023

Datassential: The Flavors and Menu Items of 2023

by David Klemt

Basket of hot chicken wings

Food and beverage market research agency Datassential has some data-driven thoughts on the flavors and menu items that will define 2023.

Featured in their latest Foodbytes report are 20 items for operators to consider this year. There are ten food items, drinks, and ingredients Datassential predicts will be on basically every menu.

And there are another ten food items, drinks, and ingredients the agency feels could suddenly hit in 2023.

For you own copy of Datassential’s 2023 Food Trends, click here.

Prolific Performers

As Datassential refers to them in their report, these are the items “that will be everywhere” this year.


  • Birria. This one makes sense as birria only appears to be capable of continually growing in popularity.
  • Mushroom. In Datassential’s opinion, we should expect more menus to feature mushroom snacks. Also, expect to see (or add yourself) lesser-known, rare, and exotic mushrooms on menus.
  • Salsa macha. Over the past four years, according to Datassential, salsa macha as grown a staggering 339 percent on menus.


  • London Fog. A compelling earl grey tea latte.
  • Mangonada. Salty, tart, fruity, and bold, the Mangonada is a flavorful frozen drink.
  • Ranch Water. Simple, timeless, and refreshing. In 2022, per Datassential, Ranch Water was the fastest-growing cocktail.
  • Soju. According to Datassential, soju is the third fastest-growing spirit on restaurant and bar menus.


  • Spicy maple. As the image atop this article suggests, expect spicy maple to replace or at least give hot honey a run for its money.
  • Ube. A striking purple yam from the Philippines.
  • Yuzu. Datassential predicts this citrus fruit will start showing up on many chain restaurant menus.

Promising Performers

In Datassential’s data-driven opinion, the following items need to be on every operator’s radar.

These are the items that have the potential to “hit it big” in 2023.


  • Pickled strawberries. Interestingly, this matches up with Technomic’s trend prediction for the US, Canadaworldwide, really.
  • Savory granola. Not only on its own but as an element of savory, healthy bowl.
  • Sisig. A Filipino delicacy with pork belly, pig’s face, and chicken liver as key elements.


  • White coffee. As Datassential states, “there’s always room for coffee innovation on menus.”


  • Black tahini. The appearance of black tahini is quite striking, making for dramatic presentations. And as we know, striking presentations are perfect for social media marketing and engagement.
  • Cannabis. The legalization of recreational cannabis use in almost half of US states is leading to innovation in this space. And as more markets legalize public consumption in the form of F&B items on-premise, restaurants and bars will add cannabis-infused items to their menus.
  • Cherry blossom, or sakura. It seems that cherry blossoms are poised to take off in the US market.
  • Chestnut flower. Per Datassential, this ingredient is gaining popularity for use in winter baked goods.
  • MSG. For decades, restaurants proudly proclaimed “no MSG” or “MSG-free” on menus due to misconceptions. Now that consumers are better educated about ingredients, restaurants are proudly proclaiming their use of MSG.
  • Verjus. An ancient juice made by crushing unripened wine grapes. It can be an ingredient in a sauce, as a condiment, or to deglaze a pan.

There you have it—20 items to consider adding in your next menu update, featuring in your next LTO, or at least keeping an eye on in 2023.

Image: Scott Eckersley on Unsplash

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Pumpkin Spice Season Descends Upon Us

Pumpkin Spice Season Descends Upon Us

by David Klemt

Jack o' lantern and smoke

Once again, the unstoppable march of the spooky season is upon us, bringing with it a frightening assortment of pumpkin spice items and expectations.

In the blink of an eye, hordes will descend on your restaurant or bar. “Pumpkin spiiiiiice,” they’ll croak.

Okay, so that’s overly dramatic. For the most part, pumpkin spice season is anything but scary. And really, very few people will transform into singularly focused pumpkin spice zombies.

However, fall is nearly here. So, you do need to finalize your fall/autumn menu. Beginning in September, that really does mean considering offering at least one pumpkin spice LTO item.

Interestingly, though, pumpkin spice may not deserve its perception as the flavor of fall. According to Datassential, there are ten flavors that index high enough to give pumpkin spice a challenge for the fall throne.

What are they? Well, it just so happens that Datassential has those answers, along with a bit of useful advice.

Lord of the LTO

Recently, Datassential released “Food Industry Trend Report: 2022 Pumpkin Spice Season.” As the research firm points out, pumpkin spice seems to be encroaching on summer more each year.

How far away are we, I wonder, from pumpkin spice claiming summer for itself? Will we be subjected to pumpkin spice dry rubs at summer barbecues? Is some intrepid operator going to create a pumpkin spice lemonade?

Those terrifying questons aside, pumpkin spice season coming earlier means more opportunities to benefit from LTOs. Just as it seems that pumpkin spice is descending upon us earlier and earlier, it also seems to dominate the LTO space.

In fact, per Datassential research, major chains executed 174 pumpkin spice LTOs. Now, that’s still with a five-percent drop in menuing for pumpkin space over the past 12 months. Further, that number doesn’t include small, regional chains and independents who also launched pumpkin spice LTOs.

Of course, there are also other fall flavors that deserve a place on operators’ menus. And they’re perfectly cromulent as LTO drivers.

Fall Flavor Favorites

To inspire operators to create LTOs that entice consumers this fall, Datassential has identitied ten flavors on which to focus. Helpfully, they separate them into two main categories.

Top five sweet fall flavors:

  • Vietnamese cinnamon
  • Spicy ginger
  • Allspice
  • Eggnog
  • Pumpkin pie

Top five savory flavors:

  • Coconut milk
  • “Oktoberfest”
  • Mustard cream
  • Turkey gravy
  • Cranberry sauce

Personally, I can see operators and their teams needing to get creative to leverage mustard cream and turkey gravy. Interestingly, Datassential suggests a few flavors not on either list above.

According to their report, Datassential expects apple and blood orange to be popular for LTOs this year. According to the firm, apple was popular last year. When it comes to blood orange, Datassential says 38 percent of consumers like or love the flavor.

Whichever flavors you choose, Datassential has the following advice, which we co-sign: Ensure your LTOs are fresh; make sure they’re easy and quick to make; and don’t discount them. In fact, you should create premium LTOs that come with a premium price.

Image: Colton Sturgeon on Unsplash