Comfort food has become a big topic in the food industry. Everything from bold twists on traditional dishes to the rising popularity of old school supper clubs and retro cocktails. What is it about these comforting nostalgic foods that draw people in? It started with the pandemic, but what does the ongoing popularity mean for you and your menu? We set out to better understand the allure of all things starchy, fatty and wonderfully delicious.
There’s a reason comfort foods bring us such comfort, and it goes beyond the simple joy of all those yummy, high-calorie flavors. They can actually help reduce the impact of stress hormones by stimulating our bodies to make serotonin, a chemical that helps us feel calmer1.
Comfort foods can also contribute to increased levels of dopamine, a chemical that gives us a sense of pleasure2. Not only that, dopamine motivates us to keep doing those pleasurable things (like eating and drinking) as a means of survival3.
So, when someone craves a big ol’ Mexican pizza after a long stressful day (or pandemic), it makes sense. The body is seeking to calm itself. In fact, a number of scientific studies show that people feel less depressed, anxious and irritable, and consuming things like macaroni and cheese really does make us feel better1.
When it comes to comfort foods, people often crave flavors they associate with happy memories4. With that, foods that were served at special occasions, like birthday parties and family gatherings, can become triggers for positive feelings4.
A basic brownie, for instance, can bring us back to simpler, happier times. And that sense of warmth and reassurance is all people need to feed those comforting cravings.
The context in which we eat foods can also shape how much we enjoy them in the moment5. In other words, our food experiences can be heightened by a sense of community, a sense of warmth and enjoying it together.
THE SOMETHING ELSE
We know diners are looking for new foods and experiences. And the proliferation of unexpected flavors (think birria, yuzu or guajillo peppers) making their way onto mainstream menus seems to contradict the desire for familiar foods and simpler times. Or does it?
Maybe the familiar provides a more approachable introduction to all those unique flavors. Think about it. What better way to incorporate more bold flavors into your menu than through comfort foods like flatbreads and brownies?
A twist of spice, sauce or protein can turn everyday quesadillas into a whole new dish without much disruption to your menu and back of house.
HOW WE CAN HELP
Mexican food is inherently comforting, which probably explains America’s growing desire for Mexican comfort food. We can make it a lot easier to incorporate these dishes into your menu. Take our TRES COCINAS® Authentic Pepper Pastes for instance. One little squeeze of our chipotle flavor into your signature brownie batter can add a whole new delicious twist to your everyday desserts.
Looking for more delicious comfort food inspiration? Check out some of our favorites by going here.
Want to add more adventurous flavor to your favorite comfort food dishes? Partner with us and we can help make it a little easier. All MegaMex Foods ingredients are thoughtfully crafted to save you time and labor without sacrificing quality.
2UTHealth Houston, 2020
3Cleveland Clinic, Health Articles
5New York Times, 2022