By now, most of us have grown quite familiar with the “toast” trend. As I note in an upcoming Market Trends feature on breakfast items, when offbeat eateries like San Francisco’s Trouble Coffee & Coconut Club began serving up $4 slices of thick-cut, artisanal toast, U.S. food culture took quick notice—some to deride, some with pure fascination. It was so simple. Toast.
But it was toast with a pedigree. Artisan bakers behind the bread were profiled. Hip coffee shop owners slathered the thick, caramelized slices with small-batch spreads of varying stripes. It was artisanal, specialized and simple. It was laden with slowed-down, cottage-industry charm. It gave the foods a face and a name.
Throughout 2015, companies have begun to take hold of toast as a flavor. Early this year, USA Today included some examples from the Winter Fancy Foods Show of how manufacturers are dialing toast down into its nuances, with added butter or sugar-and-cinnamon accents (see “Toast is a flavor: Incredible food trends in 2015”).
The USA Today article also mentions usage of toast as an ingredient. B.T. McElrath in Minneapolis has offered Buttered Toast chocolate bars, made with toast purchased from a local artisan bakery, buttered, then enrobed in milk chocolate. I’ve also started to see chefs use amazingly charred toast, crumbled fine, as a topping on ice cream.
Expect to see other ingredients get the toasted treatment, with that fact clearly communicated on the front of the packaging. This holds particular promise for the cracker category.
But I’m also ready for an old-fashioned toast revival—meaning specific products designed for toasting. Ozery Bakery recently released Morning Rounds, fruit and grain buns built for the toaster. The English muffins segment could also stand some rustic, artisan-oriented diversification, and I’d love to see new “toasting breads” hit the shelves.
How do you see this trend manifesting itself in the coming year?