Pi Day is celebrated on March 14 as a nod to pi, the mathematical constant that rounds to 3.14. In addition to mathematicians and school-age kids, restaurant operators also fete the day by promoting pie deals and new pie rollouts. Here are five info bits about pie that operators should keep in mind year-round, based on Technomic’s MenuMonitor and Dessert Consumer Trend Report.
1. Stick with the classics
Apple pie is by far the top pie or cobbler choice among consumers, with 65% saying they would order apple pie as a dessert. Apple is also the top pie flavor on menus. Runners-up for the top pie choices are chocolate cream pie (47%) and cherry pie (44%), also classics.
2. Keep seasonality in mind
Operators should capitalize on consumer interest in seasonality, as many of the most preferred pie flavors maintain a strong seasonal association. Pumpkin pie (40%) and pecan pie (38%) are heavily preferred flavors for fall, while Key lime pie (40%) and peach pie (38%) are summer favorites.
3. Focus on variety for men and older consumers…
In general, men and older consumers consider ordering a wider variety of pies than women and younger consumers would. In fact, more men than women say they’d order apple pie, chocolate cream pie, cherry pie, fruit cobbler, pumpkin pie, Key lime pie, banana cream pie, peach pie and pecan pie. The only pie option listed that received equal preference from men and women is crumble/crisp. Men are also more likely than women to add toppings to pie. And broken down by age, 58% of those age 35 and older say they’d consider ordering pie as dessert after dinner, while just 41% of those age 18-34 say the same.
4. …But after-lunch pie for women
Almost half of women (46%) would consider ordering pie for dessert after lunch, compared to about a quarter of men (27%). Compared to all other desserts listed, pie had the largest preference difference as an after-lunch dessert among men and women.
5. Funky flavors could be winners
Pear and toffee are the fastest-growing pie flavors, each up 28.6% year over year. Austin, Texas-based Three Little Pigs food trailer recently served a Pear Berry Almond Streusel Pie, while Legal Sea Foods menus a $8.95 Boston Cream Pie with toffee almond crunch. Other nontraditional pie flavors to watch are pineapple (14.3%) and Mexican (14.3%), the latter of which features ingredients like Mexican brandy butter atop a Mexican Apple Pie at Cantina Laredo and El Chico Cafe.