Our Changing Tastes
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I've got a friend who owns a family style restaurant offering
basic comfort food. It's not cheap, nor is it expensive either; just a
family-run restaurant that offers basic home cooking. I'm sure you know such a
restaurant in your neighborhood.
Periodically, I help my friend update his menu. In the course
of doing this I've asked him why he no longer offers certain items on his menu;
things like lamb shanks, beef stroganoff, beef tips on noodles, Chicken a la
King, Salisbury Steak, stuffed peppers, Sausage and peppers, pot roast,
casseroles and the like. These were items I remember well from my youth but are
disappearing from menus across the country. The only rationale my friend could
offer was that people's tastes were changing, and such items were more
identified with the older generation than the new. The younger people seem to
relate more to burgers, chicken and pizza; items that are more associated with
fast food franchises as opposed to anything else. Consequently, the idea of a
home cooked meal is becoming more of a nebulous concept to them.
Bread is another commodity that has been changing as well.
Instead of white, rye, and whole wheat, people now want shibata, muffala, and
panini. I remember a time when sourdough was considered the epitome of exotic
bread, now it is generally regarded as nothing special. The new breads are nice,
but somehow the idea of a PB&J on panini doesn't sound right.
Our cuts of beef and chicken haven't really changed, but fish
has. At one time, your only choices were cod, haddock, swordfish, flounder, and
maybe some tuna (in a can). Now we ask for tilapia, grouper, mahi-mahi, ahi
tuna, and orange roughy. As an aside, years ago grouper was considered a
"garbage fish" that fisherman routinely discarded, but somehow we developed a
taste for it.
Soft drinks have also changed as well. Whereas we used to
live on colas, lemon/lime drinks, root beer, ginger ale, ice tea, fruit juices,
and Kool-Aid, now we have power/sports drinks in a variety of colors and tastes
to hydrate us, and others loaded with caffeine and sugar to shock our system.
Orange juice was orange juice. Period. Now we have varieties with pulp, without
pulp, with added vitamins, lower acid, and of course the blends with other fruit
juices. Ice tea is no different; now we have a wide variety of flavors to suit
different tastes. Coffee has also changed in this regards, instead of a basic
black cup of coffee in the morning, we now have all kinds of ingredients to make
it look like a hot fudge sundae or some other dessert.
Speaking of desserts, cakes and pies are still around, but
are a little harder to find. Then of course there are items like tapioca
pudding, rice pudding, and other flavored puddings, most of which the kids turn
their noses up over. Ice cream is still a favorite, but we've come a long way
since basic vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry. The competition in the ice cream
world is fierce and consequently many new varieties have been introduced with
strange names (and higher prices). I have to admit though, I am a sucker for
Graeter's Black Raspberry Chip or their Pumpkin Pie which comes out around
For breakfast there was oatmeal, farina, Maypo, Cream of Weat,
Malt-O-Meal, Pancakes, Waffles, and, of course, bacon and eggs. These have all
been replaced by such things as Pop Tarts, Granola Bars, breakfast drinks, and
other instant snacks. Heck, basic cereals are even struggling as people are
rushing out the door in the morning.
I'm not suggesting our tastes are any better or
worse today than yesteryear; I'm just noting the change. However, I wonder how
much of this push to multiple varieties and instant meals is a result of our
changing tastes as opposed to creating a higher profit margin for the vendors; I
suspect the latter. More than anything, I believe our tastes change because of
vendor competition and the need to make a buck. No matter how you slice it
though, there is nothing better than "mom's home cooking." The only problem
though is that a lot of people today think baking and cooking are two towns in
Keep the Faith!
Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their
Copyright © 2009 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Tim Bryce is the Managing Director of
M. Bryce & Associates
(MBA) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the
management consulting field. He can be reached at
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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2009-10-21 13:28:45 in Marketing Articles