You might have noticed that children play with their food. There’s a lesson here. Adults play with their food, too. Think about assembling fajitas at Chili’s or at lots of Tex-Mex restaurants. Or choosing from a wide variety of soft serve alternatives at places like Menchie’s.
When we buy something to eat or drink we want it to taste good. Enjoying food connects with many sensory experiences including taste, aroma, texture and more.
It’s my belief that the shopping experience is a big part of enjoying the things we eat and drink. This is, comparatively, a weakness for our industry versus competing food and beverage alternatives. Food = Fun is not necessarily on your radar screen when you’re at work.
Here are two examples which might help you reconsider the idea that food should be fun:
- At Lakeline Mall in Cedar Park, TX (just outside Austin, TX) we encountered the Hey Cupcake vending machine. Bakery treats are always appealing, to me for sure. The images of the cupcakes were attractive and caught my attention. The cupcakes were great. We loved them. Cupcake vending has been in the news, so this is not a new idea. The team at Hey Cupcake delivered it well. The interactive screen gets shoppers’ attention. After we walked away with our purchase, two families, with a bunch of excited kids, were the next buyers.
- Have you ever heard of “made-to-order liquid nitrogen ice cream?” Better than that, have you had the experience of seeing it made and tasting it? If your answer is “NO” then you’re missing out on a real treat – both the experience and taste. We went to Creamistry in Lakeway, TX (again just outside Austin). As you enter the store, your senses are engaged by a smoky mist rising from behind the counter. First, you select the size and base for your order – the base can be organic, non-dairy sorbet, coconut or their signature premium mix. Then you pick your flavor from cereals, coffees or teas and lots more alternatives. Next you add toppings or other “upgrades.” After that their Creamologists handcraft your order. Now the fun begins. Liquid nitrogen, at -321[Symbol]F is injected in the mixing bowl. The nitrogen evaporates very quickly in big cloud of smoky mist. It’s a really cool effect – no pun intended. The whole process, from ordering to seeing your order frozen right in front of you, is dramatic and highly engaging. By the way, the ice cream was excellent.
Food = Fun will not be something easy to accomplish at the locations we serve. You need to be on the lookout every day for local examples of companies like Hey Cupcake and Creamistry. Seeing how well they deliver the fun side of food, just might inspire your creativity.
We do a great job of delivering convenience to the locations and people we serve. Let’s focus on making the shopping experience more fun – especially the food, snacks and beverages we sell. After all, it comes down to selling more stuff.