Food

Viral food trends are increasingly landing on restaurant menus, Yelp data reveals

The 2024 State of the Industry Report also shows growth in dessert concepts and popups. And croissants continue to morph.
Supreme Croissants
Bakery-cafe chain Paris Baguette just launched its version of the Supreme Croissant, filled with both lemon curd cream and chocolate custard. | Photo courtesy of Paris Baguette.

Food and drink trends going viral on social feeds are increasingly making their way onto restaurant menus, according to Yelp data.

That was just one of the findings in Yelp’s annual State of the Industry Report, released Wednesday. The data is collected from hundreds of millions of reviews, photos and consumer and business activity.

The “croissant craze” is one of those viral trends fueled by social media. Croissants continue to be reimagined in countless new ways, evolving from the Croffle in 2022 (a croissant-waffle hybrid) to the Supreme in 2023 (a round, crispy cream-filled pastry). In 2024, the Crookie took over, with searches for this cookie-croissant combo up 23,300% in March of this year.

The Crookie, which was first spotted in Paris, is a mashup featuring croissant dough stuffed with a chocolate chip cookie. Now more croissant iterations are emerging, according to Yelp, including the Flat Croissant (up 5,411% year-over-year) and the Pizza Croissant (up 372%.)

While croissant variations seem to originate with independent chefs and bakeries and blow up on social platforms, national chain Paris Baguette has jumped on the trend with riffs of its own. Last year, the 170-unit bakery-café concept launched Croissant Cubes, and this March, the Croissant Crisp made its debut. The latter is a flattened and pressed variation that bakes up into a caramelized, crispy pastry.

Just out of the oven is the brand’s interpretation of the round Supreme, introduced Wednesday and available in two flavors. The Lemon Supreme Croissant is filled with lemon curd soft cream and topped with lemon icing, while the Chocolate Supreme Croissant is filled with chocolate custard cream and iced with chocolate.

The croissant craze reinforces another trend highlighted in the Yelp report: the rise of dessert concepts. From May, 2023-April, 2024, openings for dessert shops increased 52%, as have concepts focused on similar treats.

graphic

While restaurant openings in general are on the rise, up 6% year over year, growth has slowed compared to the 10% experienced between 2022 and 2023. But popups continue to go strong, as chefs and restaurateurs look to test new ideas in temporary spaces that require minimal investment.

And as evidenced from the decline of higher-priced restaurants, consumers are seeking value.

The increase in dessert concepts indicates that Americans are clearly indulging their sweet tooth. And they’re often looking for more unique ways to satisfy these cravings. Online searches for Tanghulu, a Chinese snack of skewered fruits coated in a candy glaze, rose 7,818%, while those for Swedish candy are up a whopping 13,665%. Swedish candy taste test videos have been trending on social media, according to Yelp data.

Viral trends can be fleeting however, and Yelp is continuing to track the foods and drinks generating buzz on social media to see what may land on restaurant menus during the second half of 2024.

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