As Valentine’s Day approaches, love is certainly in the air, and on thousands of U.S. restaurant menus.
The prevalence of the word “love” — which is found everywhere from a meat-lovers pizza to a “From Russia with Love” cocktail — has slipped by 2% from both a year ago, but it still appears on nearly a quarter of menus overall.
What ingredient matches best with love, you ask? You may be surprised. Sausage is the ingredient that love is paired with most on menus, at 25.9%, followed by pizza, bacon, pepperoni and ham (critical toppings on a meat lover’s pizza.) But there are plenty of others.
“Heart” is on 21% of menus – with ingredients like hearts of palm, artichoke hearts, or a heart-shaped donut or pizza.
And “Valentine” is on less than 1% of menus – but the holiday is still important for foodservice operators to lure in crowds of couples and groups alike looking for a special occasion in the midst of what for much of the country are the final throes of winter.
Who loves love the most?
Women and millennials are a little more focused on food for Valentine’s Day, according to our Seasonal LTO report. About a quarter of women (24%) and Millennials (26%) associate Valentine’s with certain foods or flavors — including chocolate, Champagne, or pink and heart-shaped items — compared with less than one in five people overall.
According to our 2022 Seasonality Report, peppermint is the item that’s most unique to winter menus, but other top items are all linked to Valentine’s Day: heart, Bavarian (cream), brownie, raspberry and strawberry. Filled donuts and those with berry filling or frosting are especially common at this time of year.
But Valentine’s Day is not just about sweets and Champagne, consumers also associate a number of savory dishes with the holiday that align with a special occasion – like lobster, pasta and even pizza (we’re assuming they’re heart-shaped!)
Consumers’ views on Valentine’s Day foods
Here’s a look at what consumers think about these and other love-linked foods, according to our according to our FLAVOR database of food, beverages, and ingredients that tracks consumer interest:
|Valentine’s Day + Love-Themed Foods||Love or Like %|
|Italian “Wedding” Soup||27%|
|Hearts of Palm||15%|
However you choose to celebrate Valentine’s Day, know there are plenty of foods – both sweet and savory – that speak the language of love.
Samantha Des Jardins is a Content & Marketing Manager at Datassential.
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