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3 Fall Flavors to Add to Your Menu

September 23, 2021

Outside as the sun rises and sets, as a breeze blows, as a leaf drifts down, we see it: a small glimpse of fall creeping in. When we look at a menu or grocery self, it’s evident: fall is here! Comforting and cozy seasonal menu items are making their way back to menus (pumpkin spice since August!). It’s the perfect time of year to tie in foods and flavors that conjure warm memories or feelings—and it can boost sales. In fact, nearly 70% of consumers are extremely or very likely to purchase a favorite nostalgic food or beverage. That number jumps to 77% for Millennials.1 Of course, there are mainstays that come and go for the season, but some of these flavors have been growing over the past few years, regardless of time of year.
First, we’ll take a look at maple, a fan favorite of many, as 76% of consumers like or love this familiar flavor.2 Over the past four years, maple has seen a slight increase in menu mentions,3 but what’s more, it also experienced a good amount of LTO activity in 2020. In a year where menus were cut and many inno76%25 of consumers love or like maplevation efforts were put on the back burner, restaurants turned out maple-flavored items to bring fall vibes to the menu, carrying on through the winter months. The Maple Harvest Cold Brew from Wawa and Maple Pecan Pumpkin Baby Bundt from Corner Bakery are only a couple examples from the many offered. While commonly found in desserts, beverages, and sweet breakfast items, maple also pairs well with savory dishes and transcends dayparts. An added bonus of this ingredient is it can serve as a natural sugar substitute, imparting a subtly different-flavored sweetness. Easily create a sweet and savory topper for waffles, pancakes, or fried chicken by infusing with our Gold Label Ready-To-Use Craft Toppings™ Bacon Onion Marmalade. Make a statement with a signature protein such as Molasses Maple Glazed Pork Belly and use it across the menu, paired with a side for a main dish and served within these Southern-inspired Smothered Pork Belly Tots. For those who wish to serve elevated options, look no further than this Maple Bulgogi Glazed Duck with Kimchi Roasted Turnips and Korean Pears which features autumnal produce.
Cider is the second flavor that’s experiencing continued growth (up 6.2% from 2017 to 2021).4 While cider typically makes its way onto beverage menus, we’re seeing the use of cider throughout other items such as apple cider donuts and muffins from a variety of chains. A derivative of apple cider—apple cider vinegar—has also been popping up more often in salad dressings and sauces. Apple cider creates a classic combination with proteins.  Here’s an entrée perfect for your fall menu: Spiced and Roasted Apple Gravy Pork Chops featuring Custom Culinary® PanRoast® Pork Flavored Gravy, along with apple compote, cinnamon, cloves, and red onion sauerkraut. Swapping out the water in the gravy for apple cider packs in additional harvest flavor. You can also use this Apple Turkey Gravy as a jumping off point for a variety of signature meat-based dishes. The gravy serves as a great sauce with roasted, grilled, or sautéed turkey or chicken. It can also be used with pork or game birds such as pheasant to expand menu options.
The beforementioned flavors are on the sweet side, but this final flavor is known for making an appearance on the dessert menu. Marshmallow invokes visions of toasting a sweet treat on the bonfire, but it has also grown 16.7% in US menu mentions over the past four years.5 Various interpretations of s’mores ranging from ice cream to hot chocolate have been a leading force for the growth in marshmallow incidence. Spice up your own s’mores creation, literally. Incorporate our Master's Touch® Chipotle Flavor Concentrate to your chocolate sauce for smoky-subtle-spicy twist.
Whether it’s one of these three flavors or you turn to pumpkin, pear, or cranberry, there’s plenty of ways to integrate touches of fall into your sweet and savory menu items. We will be posting fall menu inspiration throughout the remainder of the season, so be sure to follow us on your favorite platform. You can find us on InstagramLinkedIn, and Facebook.
Cheers to the season ahead!


Joe Beitzel
Brand Marketing Director
Custom Culinary, Inc.

1 Datassential Simply Smarter Webinar, The Quarterly Trends Update, September 2, 2021
2, 3, 4, 5 Datassential US SNAP Data, September 2021