Condiments are powerful. They have the ability to completely change the experience, and the flavor of the foods they touch. A dollop of this or a squeeze of that can take a sandwich to a globally-inspired escape and a snack to a flavor-charged level. It’s remarkable, and should not be approached thoughtlessly. Considering the Sriracha craze, our love for BBQ sauces, and the brand loyalty of ketchup lovers, it’s easy to see that condiments have the potential to create a lasting impression.
If Sriracha was evidence of our love affair with craveable condiments, it would be enough. In the last 4 years, the spicy sauce grew by an impressive 300%, according to Datassential Menu Trends. Sambal is another flavor that experienced a quick ascent on the charts, up 60% in the last 4 years, along with Chimichurri, boasting a growth rate of nearly 80%. Aioli, in its simplicity, continues to grow year-over-year, and there are many more—harissa, piri piri, ponzu, yuzu, curry, gochujang, just to name a few.
Why the growth? Perhaps the answer is this: the controllable dose of flavor is available to all, offering the opportunity to delight guests with a taste equally unexpected as much as it is familiar. Even more, a condiment can take the ordinary to new heights. A burger with a decadent spread, a basket of fries with surprising dipping sauces, or a dozen wings dressed in an energetic hot sauce may only be the beginning, but also worthy of a second (or third) visit.
Millennials are more likely than the overall population to experiment, states Datassential, and are loyal to their favorite spots. Introducing “new” through thoughtful condiments may be the way to their flavor-seeking hearts. Sixty-percent of Millennials prefer varied menus, according to Datassential, and appreciate the ability to customize meals. Offering variety through housemade condiments and signature sauces is an easy solution. This is how many operators keep their menu fresh, while staying true to their concept’s focus.
In January, NRA’s “What’s Hot” survey projected housemade and ethnic condiments would be big this year. QSR Magazine predicted an increase in diners looking for meals that pair spicy flavors with sweet, savory or tangy tastes. Even Pinterest weighed in, stating that Korean condiments would replace sriracha and ketchup. True or not, the predictions restate the importance of adding interest, variety, and novelty to the menu.
Although the protein typically leads, creative condiments often finish the story. At Lulu Taqueria & Bar in Fairport, NY, their Fried Chicken Sandwich is topped with a jalapeno slaw, spicy rooster aioli and housemade bread-and-butter pickles. DMK Burger Bar in Chicago offers a grass-fed Lamb Burger with olive tapenade, sheep's milk feta, Greek salad and tzatziki. And Sparrow & Wolf in Las Vegas introduced ’nduja, a cured spicy spreadable salumi, by way of a vinaigrette, tossing with burnt tomato and wings for a dish that is equally familiar and exciting.
Creating signature housemade sauces and spreads is as easy as ‘add and combine’ with our line of Master's Touch® Flavor Concentrates and Gold Label True Foundations™ Liquid Stock Concentrates. Mix any of our flavors in mayo, ketchup, mustard, or BBQ sauce to create something new and delicious that is all your own. Need ideas? We have hundreds in our recipe database ready to inspire you.
Manager, Insight & Communication
Custom Culinary, Inc.