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The American Palate

For awhile I was reading this restaurant trade magazine religiously and I loved it. There’s something about the food business that fascinates me. I think it has to do with the connection to the American palatte, there is something very basic and real there.

Anyway, the Wall Street Journal had a good piece on how Olive Garden (and other casual dining restaurants) design menus. The gist:

Americans are more adventurous eaters than ever thanks to the popularity of the Food Network, among other TV cooking programming, and the visibility of celebrity chefs. “People will say their favorite fruit is a blood orange,” not just an orange, says Shannon Johnson, executive director of culinary innovation and development for Applebee’s, which is owned by DineEquity Inc.

But for chains that aim to entice almost every demographic group through their doors, there are limits. In several years of tests, Olive Garden diners often deemed pesto too oily, bitter or green. Capers, with their salty, pickled flavor, are too unexpected for many customers, says a spokeswoman.

[Via @leilafern]

December 22, 2011 // This post is about: ,


  • Dan Thornton says:

    Two things spring to mind – firstly that the idea of a chain catering to everyone’s ideal tastes just doesn’t work as well anymore, and secondly that there were studies into the ideal number of types of soup, or ketchup etc to cover the biggest different tastes. I know it’s one that Malcom Gladwell has often mentioned, including in a TED talk a while ago, so you may have already come across it.

    A lot of people will claim they like something exotic and unusual because they think they do, and also because they want to, despite tests showing that actually the bland, generic version is the one they like most.

    Meanwhile those who really do love salty or bitter tastes etc just need either a place that caters for them, or an option to choose on the menu – personally, I can never have enough capers, anchovies, etc…

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