The newsLINK Group - Make It Hot, Make It Mini

Editorial Library Category: Restaurants Topics: Food Changes Title: Make It Hot, Make It Mini Author: newsLINK Staff Synopsis: U.S. eating habits are changing, and that means restaurants need to change, too, in order to meet the needs of their customers. What are the main forces driving the change? Editorial: Make It Hot, Make It Mini 4064 South Highland Drive, Millcreek, Utah 84124 │ │ (v) 801.676.9722 │ (tf) 855.747.4003 │ (f) 801.742.5803 Editorial Library | © The newsLINK Group LLC 1 U.S. eating habits are changing, and that means restaurants need to change, too, in order to meet the needs of their customers. What are the main forces driving the change? Mealtimes are blurring. It used to be people ate three meals a day. More and more, however, people eat five meals a day instead of three, and they’ve cut the size of their meals to match the frequency. They eat smaller portions during their main meals, and they’ve added two or three snacks per day to compensate. Meals are considerably less formal, and less social, than they used to be. Approximately 76 percent of the time, people eat separately from their families. Even when people eat with their families, though, only 28 percent of the meals include children. When people have a meal separate from their families, they eat alone (that is, no friends and no family) in 44 percent of the cases, and are only connected to others in their social circle by texting. Many people are not at a healthy weight. If you want them to continue to eat at your restaurant while they are working to cut calories by decreasing portion sizes, you need to give them smaller portion sizes on the menu, or they will either start cooking more at home, or go to restaurants that are more aligned with their goals of portion-size reduction. Obesity is an unwelcome national epidemic. About 66 percent of all U.S. adults either weigh too much or are obese. This is something that happened over several decades of chasing the latest diet fad, but unfortunately, restaurants with calorie-heavy menus that feature huge portions are also part of the problem. By changing their menus, and reducing the calorie count by making portions much smaller, restaurants can also be part of the solution. One strategy involves reducing the number of calories; although some dishes may only claim 400 calories, 700 calories is a good upper limit for an adult meal. Another strategy involves presentation: a plate can be small instead of large, and glasses can be tall and narrow. Adding fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can’t hurt. Making it easy for customers to split an entrée or a dessert is another way to reduce the number of calories eaten while still giving customers the fun, enjoyable dining experience they want. Giving restaurant customers more choices on mini versions of the food only makes sense. It’s really just an extension of what the French and Chinese, along with everyone else, call hor d’oeurves or dim sum. When you give people the option of snacking, they can eat a little if that’s what they want, and they can eat more if they decide to make the snack more substantial. Fast food has been around in the U.S. since the 1920s. A White Castle restaurant opened in Wichita, Kansas and began offering small burgers, dubbed sliders, for five cents each. In 1954, the restaurant added five holes in 1954 so the slider burgers would cook faster. Sliders are still around today, and have been joined on the menu by other options, such as cheeseburgers and other types of sandwich; the average customer orders four sliders at a time. According to Jamie Richardson, White Castle’s vice president, people love the ease and the variety that small portion sizes provide. He should know; according to a profile on the Social Capital website, located at , his love for White Castle sliders is at least part of the reason he opted to become the company’s vice president in 1998. Other fast-food restaurants have certainly done their own experimenting on the subject of mini food. McDonald’s, Wendy’s, KFC, and Taco Bell have all experimented with resizing menu items, pricing them to match, and putting them on fast-food value menus. The movement is not limited to fast food alone. Bakeries such as Corner Bakery and Panera Bread have put small or half portions of their sandwiches, soups, and salads into combination meals for customers who want lighter meals.