What's the difference between a food craze, sweets addiction, diet fads, or dessert and snack trend? It depends upon the media promotion of health benefits of foods that keep people coming back for more of the same taste and texture of the particular food, which in turn promotes the ambiance, mood, or tone of the food, that drives the sales of ingredients used in making the food. Take the cupcake trend in Sacramento for example compared to the rising trend for specialty chocolates. If you check out the February 14, 2014 Sacramento Bee article by Sammy Caiola,"Mom-and-pop cupcake shops hang on despite a changing market," it covers Sacramento's and the country's dessert trends, especially the popularity of chocolates and cupcakes this Valentine's Day.
Food trends in Sacramento are like fashion and modeling trends. One day you're in, and the next day you're out. But the food is really never gone, forever. You have the same items popping up in other uses from wedding cupcakes to catering events and specialty items. When the product gets too expensive to continue making or the customer base changes its choices from cupcakes to gourmet chocolate macarons or other selections, it's time to check the sales statistics and customer searches online for a particular food item, whether it's gourmet chocolates, cupcakes, or any other item. You also may want to see the abstract of a study, "Chocolate cake. Guilt or celebration? Associations with healthy eating attitudes, perceived behavioral control, intentions and weight-loss."
The chocolate trend currently is moving up in profits
Chocolate sales will rise 6.2 percent to hit a record $117 billion next year, according to Euromonitor International Ltd USA estimates, says the Sacramento Bee article. See, "Chocolate Confectionery in the US." During the forecast period 2013-2018, chocolate confectionery is expected to register constant value growth of 7%, to reach sales of US$18.6 billion. Higher prices and smaller pack sizes are expected to drive retail volume sales down by 1% over the forecast period, says the Euromonitor International site, Chocolate Confectionery in the US, for predicting the sales of chocolate confectionary in this nation. What about cupcake sales predictions? There's the site, Baked goods industry market research, statistics, market share, from the Euromontior International Ltd USA site.
You can search food trend predictions at that site, which is helpful to see where the food trend is moving. On the other hand, the Google Trend statistics shows you what people are searching online using keywords. It's doesn't cover customers who don't search Google using keywords such as cupcakes or chocolates, for example, people not online or not researching trends. Many people shop according to food budgets, familiar family traditions and taste preferences, or diets suggested by their health care providers.
Cupcake craze in Sacramento or specialty chocolate trend?
On the other hand, the cupcake trend is now referred to in the Sacramento Bee article as the cupcake craze. The difference between a craze, a food fad, a trend, or a sweet taste addiction lies in how long the trend lasts and what the profits show for sales of the particular food ingredients. Examples could be chocolate or imported vanilla beans.
In Sacramento there has been closures of two cupcake shops in the past month. But the cupcake 'craze' as the media puts it, still is going strong for some Sacramento and Davis stores that also sell other dessert or snack foods such as chocolate or frozen yogurt or handle catering for events and weddings such as cake or dessert designs. The trend this year appears to be an uptick in more novel confections such as gourmet chocolates.
Searching Google Trend charts for cupcakes
You have chocolates sold in Sacramento with unique flavors such as rose and lime undertones in the chocolates. Then there's the growing trend of gourmet macarons. What also changes the sweet tooth trend is oversaturation of the dessert markets. The cupcake craze skyrocketed in Sacramento between February 2009 and February 2012. How food researchers look for statistics in what's hot in gourmet and novelty desserts or snacks is that they look at Google Trend charts which track how often the public searches the key word 'cupcake' over a period of time, explains the Sacramento Bee article. When a trend reaches a plateau that hangs on, it signals that the craze has peaked and then plateaued for an extended stay. And if you search for what the plateau looks like just for Sacramento, you'll see a decline just in the number of people searching the keyword 'cupcakes'.
That's one way how researchers look to see what happens to a trend in food choices. It's the mainstream media that often calls a trend a craze to raise the emotional impact of the trend an octave so that now the trend turns into a craze. Notice the heightened emotion of the word 'craze' in the same sentence as 'food.' If the word 'preference' or 'choice' a simple one-syllable word were used instead of 'craze' the trend wouldn't have as much emotional impact on food buying behavior as stirred up by media. It sounds as if people were stirred to a feeding frenzy at the mere thought of a specialty gourmet cupcake with more choices of gluten--free, vegan, or imported flavoring. On the other hand, the mere mention of chocolate makes a lot of people crave the alkaline taste with or without various sweeteners.
If a customer orders a no table sugar added cupcake or chocolate morsel, it would be good to know what sweetener was used, stevia or another sweetener, just in case the customer has adverse reactions to some sweeteners but not others. Wouldn't you want to know whether your no sugar added yogurt, chocolate, cupcake, or other dessert was sweetened with a pinch of stevia, or maltodextrin, or a commercial sweetener to which you're allergic, or a sweetener that has scientific studies that brand it with different health reactions, whatever that sweetener might be?
You'd want to know whether you were getting fructose, sucrose, stevia, maltodextrin, barley malt, aspartame, Splenda®, Xylitol, fruit juice, saccharin, dried fruit pieces, or any other type of sweetener in that food, whether it was gluten-free, vegan or not. What you'd want to see is a list of ingredients in the gourmet dessert, if you have health issues with various ingredients found in various processed foods.
You don't want to see, "natural flavors" if you don't know what those flavors are or where they come from or how they were processed, and "natural sweeteners" don't let you know the ingredients that make the morsels sweet. In Switzerland, for example, some gourmet chocolates that taste delicious are made with carmelized onions in the chocolate.
There's always room for new flavors when it comes to desserts or snacks. If a food is gluten-free, you still want to know what was used. Was it tapioca or potato starch, sweet potato flour, quinoa, black beans, sweet potato, corn, rice, or sprouted lentils that went into the making of a particular dessert or snack instead of wheat flour? When it comes to candy, where did the flavors come from--vanilla beans or other sources of the vanilla-like fragrance and taste?
This month, chocolate sales are up, and people are buying gourmet chocolates
Fine chocolate is king when it comes to popularity and sales in Sacramento. Some chocolate makers are flavoring chocolates with specialty gourmet tastes and fragrances that vary from lime and lavender to rose and orange blossom, for starters. You'll find in Sacramento most popular are the local rose caramel macarons and buttermilk lime chocolates, as mentioned in the Sacramento Bee article, "Mom-and-pop cupcake shops hang on despite a changing market." Try the exquisite chocolates in Sacramento of of chocolate maker and award-winning chef, Ginger Elizabeth Hahn. There's also tuffle squares and nut bark. The pastry chef also makes other delights. Check out the choices.
Artisan chocolate is the current trend on its way up right now in Sacramento. The artisan chocolate trend appeals to people who want luxury in taste and ingredients as more media articles refer to studies on chocolate's health benefits. See the Cleveland Clinic article, "Heart-Health Benefits of Chocolate Unveiled" and the Medical News Today article, "What are the health benefits of chocolate?"
Or check out Dr. Mercola's article, "The Rich Benefits of Eating Chocolate." Most articles mention dark chocolate rather than milk chocolate, whereas some article say milk chocolate and dark chocolate are both good. And other articles mention unsweetened cocoa powder that's not Dutched and has all its antioxidants. See the WebMD article, "Health by Chocolate" and "6 Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate."
Consumer demand and food trends
Cupcakes currently appeal to nostalgia for many customers. But chocolate is the current trend. And some businesses combine chocolate sales with cupcake sales and frozen yogurt sales. But there's a certain appeal to artisan chocolates made, for example with buttermilk and lime juice or rose-flavored with caramel in the chocolate. Chocolate is about the demand of consumers. Macarons are in fashion in the current trend in chocolates this year in Sacramento. Cupcakes are still selling.
There's always a demand for cupcakes locally and nationally. Specialty cupcakes need to be made, marked, and maintained with a special reason for the particularly cupcake and its unique ingredients, how it differs from the type of cupcake you buy in the supermarket in boxes. Every cupcake has its history. And every morsel of chocolate whether in the form of macarons, popular in Europe for decades or other forms, rectangles or circles has its unique history that makes it stand out from the rest.
Every dessert, gourmet or luxury, special diet adaptation, or food trend is based on customer demand and the passion of the chef along with the selection and quality of ingredients. And what creates customer demand in addition to the taste, ingredients, and price? It's what the media says. Just as one trend follows another, the media promotes or breaks the news of a new food trend in desserts or any other menu item. What follows news and scientific studies summarized in the news is the number of people searching online for that item using key words such as 'cupcake' or 'chocolate'.
For example, to see what's trending, many researchers and reporters look at what the Google Trend charts track. What shows up is how often the public searches the key words for the product. The next step is to look at the trend in sales of the food item for the year and the city. See the Sacramento Business Journal article, "How to keep growing when the fad is over" and "The Demise of Cupcakes."