Reversing years of on-the-go convenience trends and foodservice capturing most of the food dollar, in-home consumption occasions sent consumers seeking inspiration and variety in food and drink; consumers also gravitated to larger pack sizes, long-shelf-life foods, and comfort foods, according to IRI.
The pandemic spurred meal-making, giving fresh foods an 11% sales boost; meat sales, a top-dollar generator, are up 35%. Yet even in the latest pandemic period, according to IRI, at-home meals brought new attention to an area: Ready to deliver.
“Pizza is the perfect flavor delivery system,” points out Peter Reinhart, who is widely acknowledged as one of the world's leading authorities on bread. He is the author of ten books on bread, including the James Beard Award- and IACP cookbook award-winning The Bread Baker's Apprentice, and American Pie: My Search for the Perfect Pizza. He appears regularly on television and radio, and he is a full-time instructor at Johnson & Wales University in Charlotte, NC. He is a culinary and keynote presenter at conferences around the world, and the founder and host of the popular video website PizzaQuest.com.
Americans not only love pizza but appreciate the dozens of unique styles (often distinguished by regionality) of pizza.
For instance, what do you get when you take a Sicilian-style pizza recipe and bake it in blue steel pans originally designed for the auto industry? Detroit-style pizza is what, explains pizza journalist Liz Barrett, who wrote the article “A Taxonomy of Pizza Styles in America.”
The square pans act like a cast iron skillet to create a super crisp crunch on the crust, and bakers deliberately push the blend of mozzarella and Brick cheese up the deep interior sides of the pans to form an awesome caramelization, she writes. The result is a pan pizza on steroids. Traditionalists bake the pizza twice and put the sauce on last to ensure a perfectly crisp crust.
These trends and others blossomed in recent years, while pizza itself has been around for a while.
“Along with thousands of Italian immigrants, pizza arrived in America in the late 1800s, but our favorite food went virtually unnoticed until the 1950s,” Barrett writes. “Many believe it was soldiers returning from World War II with a craving for Italian food that spurred the initial craze, while others point to improvements in oven technology and user-friendly grocery-store pizza kits. Some even insist it was the promotion of Italian food by popular celebrities such as Frank Sinatra, Sophia Loren, and Dean Martin (remember “That’s Amore”?) that encouraged Average Joes to jump on the bandwagon.”
Macro fresh trends
Jonna Parker, principal, IRI Fresh Center of Excellence, explains that retailers are now trying to increase their flexibility in perishables, sparking a new trend to come:
“Experience is going to be the brag worthy variable that consumers are looking for,” she says. That means more limited-time options and more “cart-stopping, wow factor” items that are available in a variety of “event” sizes.
Sally Lyons Wyatt, executive vice president, IRI Center-of-Store & Produce Vertical, points out that online is a key market that will continue to explode, citing statistics that reveal 81% of consumers who shop online for food expect to do the same or more in the future.
“A lot of the majority of fresh food sales growth has grown online,” Wyatt points out. “Now retailers are trying to increase their flexibility in perishables.”
It’s all in the style
Never heard of QC-style pizza yet? Well, this yummy style has now expanded beyond the borders of the Quad Cities region of Illinois and Iowa, stretching to Georgia, Minnesota, North Carolina, Arizona, and Chicago. The Outsiders Pizza Company now sells a version of the Quad City-style pizza nationwide through major retail store chains. But ask any Quad Citizen and they'll tell you it's not even close.
Just like Chicago, Detroit, St. Louis, and New York, the Quad Cities has their own style of pizza with several distinct characteristics:
- Malt-flavored crust
- Spicy tomato sauce
- Fennel-seed seasoned sausage
- Scissor-cut into strips
- Thick layer of mozzarella cheese over the toppings
- A large Garden pizza weighs up to 4 pounds.
It comes down to five main ingredients: the crust, the sauce, the sausage, the assembly, and the cut.
Quad Cities-style pizza crust is hand-tossed to about a quarter-inch thick. So, not what most would consider thin crust, but not a deep-dish pizza either. The crust is flavored with malt syrup or molasses to create a “nutty kind of sweetness” and is a softer crust overall.
Small businesses are a key part of the Quad Cities region and set the region apart from other destinations. Considering the many challenges our restaurants have and continue to experience, this year’s spotlight is more important than ever for the Quad Cities, which is hosting QC Restaurant Week returns on March 22-28.
“Our Quad Cities restaurant community is vital to our regional destination’s success,” says Dave Herrell, president and chief executive officer, Visit Quad Cities. “Restaurants bring people together and represent a large number of hospitality jobs in the QC. We need them to thrive because their authenticity and unique experiences help shape our brand and story.”
Detroit-style pizza has been making headlines for baking up the pizza industry. While the innovative style is new to some, Detroit-style pizza has been around since 1946. Buddy’s Pizza, creator of the Original Detroit-Style Pizza, is celebrating 75 years since inventing the iconic pizza style. With recent buzz around Detroit-Style pizza and eateries adding it to their menu, Buddy’s is asking the question…is it truly Detroit-Style?
Whether it’s trying Detroit-style pizza for the first time or getting a taste of home, everyone can now get a taste of the original. Through a partnership with Goldbelly, Buddy’s Pizza can be shipped anywhere in the U.S. Orders can be placed online at www.goldbelly.com/buddys-pizza.
Buddy’s Pizza is the official founder of National Detroit-Style Pizza Day. The observance will take place yearly on June 23.
National Pi Day
Your Pie, Athens, Ga., a first fast-casual pizza franchise, once again commemorated National Pi Day by offering loyal customers $3.14 off a 10-inch pizza. National Pi Day is celebrated each year on March 14 (3/14) in honor of the mathematical constant “π,” (pi), which represents the ratio of a circumference of a circle to its diameter, which is approximately 3.14. The United States House of Representatives passed a non-binding resolution recognizing March 14 as National Pi Day in 2009.
National Pi Day has the perfect tie-in with pizzas, or “pizza pies”, particularly given their circular shapes.
“National Pi Day is one of the most anticipated and successful days of the year across the entire Your Pie system,” said Lisa Dimson, chief marketing officer of Your Pie. “It has been a fun way to associate pizza with 3.14 and be able to offer our customers a great discounted price.”
Your Pie was founded in 2008 by culinary entrepreneur Drew French, who aimed to create a first-of-its-kind restaurant concept offering high-quality, brick-oven pizza at incredible speed. While family recipes and Italian culture helped lay the foundation for its processes and exceptional quality, Your Pie has continued to build upon this foundation with new ingredients, innovative recipes, and endless choices to create a pizza experience with traditional roots, but a flair all its own. Your Pie currently has more than 75 locations nationwide
Providing care for the community with each pizza served, Jet’s Pizza, known for delicious Detroit-style pies, is proud to announce a partnership with Special Olympics of Chicago/Special Children’s Charities for a special two-day fundraiser event.
On March 29 and March 30, patrons may participate in giving back to the amazing youth services organization by ordering a delicious pizza for pickup or delivery and enter the code “SPECIAL” at checkout. All 19 Chicagoland locations will be donating 10% of these sales back to the organization, which dedicates its resources to provide sports training, competition and community to over 7,500 athletes with intellectual disabilities. To place an order, pizza lovers may visit www.jetspizza.com and select their desired location.
“We are huge fans of the incredible work that Special Olympics of Chicago does for the community,” said Kevin Tosolt, Director of Marketing at Jet’s Pizza. “We look forward to seeing the extended support from our Jet’s Pizza community as we work to help them continue on with the cause.”
Jet’s Pizza was founded in 1978 by Eugene and John Jetts in Sterling Heights, Michigan and has grown to over 380 independently owned and operated stores in 19 states.
Pizza Quest is an online resource dedicated to the exploration of artisanship in all forms, wherever we find it, but especially through the literal and metaphorical image of pizza, explains Peter Reinhart on the website, https://www.fornobravo.com/pizzaquest.
“As we share our own quest for the perfect pizza, we invite all of you to join us and share your journeys too. We have discovered that you never know what engaging roads and side paths will reveal themselves on this quest, but we do know that there are many kindred spirits out there, passionate artisans, doing all sorts of amazing things. These are the stories we want to discover, and we invite you to jump on the proverbial bus and join us on this, our never-ending pizza quest.”