Sushi, Sour Food, and the New American Palate
When I first took a bite of sushi when I was four years old, or should I say, after my mother shoved it into my mouth, I knew it was my new favorite. Growing up, when asked about what my favorite food was, I always took secret delight in the gasps of “gross!” or “you eat raw fish?” from my classmates.
It’s difficult to even imagine these days—when sushi can be bought at most grocery stores, at sporting events, and even at food trucks—just how exotic it used to be.
Sushi is the perfect illustration of how much the American food palate has changed in the past couple of decades and how much more adventurous and open (mouthed) we’ve become.
This year, the sour food trend has been one of the big food trends. A look at the staggering rise in popularity of Greek yogurt is proof enough, but there are also a lot more people consuming kimchi, kombucha, and sour beer, just to name a few other tart treats.
There are multiple reasons why sour foods have gained in prominence recently. First, people are cutting back on their sugar intake, leading to a positive association with its opposite. Probiotics also often make foods sour, and with their recently touted health benefits, consumers are ingesting more of them. However, these two health-related reasons are only a piece of a larger trend.
Visit Trader Joe’s and you’ll find butternut squash ravioli, roasted seaweed sheets, Thai-lime cashews, and a thousand other snacks and dishes influenced by global flavors. A certain (growing) portion of consumers are not just unafraid of these new taste experiences, they are actively seeking them out.
As each generation grows more comfortable with trying foods and flavors from around the world, it will be to the developer’s and marketer’s benefit not to take this trend lightly. I don’t mean to overstate the trend. A good old-fashioned American burger will always have its place; it just might be served with an Indian curry aioli.