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Pretzel flavors boom on menus

pretzel bun sandwich restaurant

Every restaurant owner and chef knows that food trends come and go, but some newer entries get so popular so quickly that they seem destined to stick around for the long term. Case in point: pretzel flavor.

According to Christin Groh at Chicago-based research firm Datassential, the number of pretzel mentions on menus has grown 100 percent since 2010, and it’s expected to keep increasing. Likewise, the number of pretzel buns and breads mentioned on restaurant menus jumped from 77 in the second quarter of 2012 to 114 9 months later, according to a Mintel Menu Insights report from September 2013.

For operators, getting in on the pretzel trend now, while it’s just starting to reach a full boil, can be a point of differentiation from competitors who may not be offering the flavor yet. To make the most of the pretzel craze, here are some best practices to consider.

Jump on the trend

Wendy's is often credited with popularizing the trend among national chains, thanks to its pretzel bacon cheeseburger, introduced in 2013. The chain followed soon after with a pretzel pub chicken sandwich, and both received rave reviews from consumers.

Sonic subsequently jumped on the flavor with a pretzel hot-dog bun; Ruby Tuesday followed suit with four different burgers that each drew heavily on pretzel flavor, such as a bacon cheese pretzel burger. Now, pretzel flavor seems to be anywhere and everywhere, and some experts believe this is just the beginning.

Lynn Dornblaser, Mintel’s new products expert, predicts that crushed pretzels will continue to make their way into full-service restaurants in the form of breading for chicken and fish dishes. She noted that pretzels have less fat than other types of bread, but incorporate a distinctive flavor that diners already know and love.

Get innovative

Pretzel buns and pretzel bites are now standard menu items, but the flavor is making its way into more creative forms as well—such as beer. Martin House Brewing Company, a brewery located in Fort Worth, Texas, makes a pretzel stout, which includes over six pounds of crushed sourdough pretzels per barrel.

Although most restaurants won't be attempting to ferment hops and pretzels in the kitchen, it's worth noting that pretzel flavors can extend beyond the bun. For example, pretzel flavors are showing up in more desserts, offering a sweet-and-salty combination that wows diners.

Expand your resources

Of course, as with any addition to a foodservice lineup, ingredient costs and labor are factors. Directing kitchen personnel to make pretzels that can subsequently be crushed and made into breading will likely cut into efficiency and margins.

That's one reason to look for solutions that can yield pretzel flavor easily and affordably. Kerry Foodservice offers a Pretzel Breader in its Golden Dipt line, with coarse crumbs of real pretzel and panko, for even coverage and authentic taste.

This post is sponsored by Kerry Foodservice