Is Pumpkin the New Bacon?

Food News

It should come as no surprise to anyone who, well, eats that bacon has ruled the food scene in recent years. For a while, it seemed bacon was in and on everything, from cupcakes to cornbread. But there's a new food in town, and its name is Pumpkin.

As New York Magazine recently pointed out, pumpkin is everywhere—in lattes, mass-market bagels, and high-end cocktails. Research firm Datassential even noted in their annual MenuTrends report that more than 60 pumpkin-related dishes appeared on the menus of America's top 250 chain restaurants in the last year, while pumpkin drink offerings increased a whopping 400 percent during the past five years! This seems to indicate that pumpkin popularity is not merely a seasonal phenomenon, but a sea change.

How is it that the lowly pumpkin managed to achieve such swift, startling popularity? Well, it's a bit of a marketing ploy, especially since pumpkin is often flavored with sugar and spices first:

As a marketing tool... pumpkin is perfectly pitched for today's eaters...A pumpkin dish, in the era of the locavore, has connotations of virtue--when you think of pumpkin, you think of something farm-grown and wholesome. That helps make it a permissible indulgence, even when what you're eating is mainly just sugar and spice. Never mind the recipe realities--savor those associations!

So, at least for restaurants, it's not pure pumpkin that has people in a tizzy. In fact, as New York Magazine notes, "pumpkin dishes don't even need any actual pumpkin in them in order to cash in on the warming, autumnal vibe." It's a feeling, an association.

Time will tell if pumpkin (or the idea of pumpkin, really) has the staying power of bacon. Not convinced? You could just combine them (!!) and call it a day.

Read More: Pumpkin Is the New Bacon | New York Magazine

Related: What Will Be the Next Bacon? Our Top 5 Trend Predictions

(Image: New York Magazine)

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