A Foodies Christmas

Discussion
Dec 12, 2011
Tom Ryan

Seemingly as popular as hot toy lists for the kiddies are the lists of hot foodies gifts for adults.

A quick Google search by RetailWire editors using the terms "holiday" and "foodie" found over 30 tailored lists suggesting gifts for "your favorite foodie" in consumer magazines as well as local newspapers.

An article in New York’s Daily News recommended an OXO "Be a Good Cookie" spatula, do-it-yourself paella kit, a beer-making kit, measuring cups shaped like goldfish and a gift certificate to De Gustibus Cooking School.

A similar article in The Boston Globe recommended: a gift basket from Dancing Deer Bakery, recently named America’s #1 tasting brownie; Bully Boy Booze, liquor brewed at a local distillery; and Boston Dining Cards featuring coupons to local restaurants. Epicurious.com’s list ranged from raw chocolate squares and premium olive oil to clever serving-ware and smartly-stacking measuring cups.

Bettyconfidential.com recommended The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook, a grow-your-own-mushrooms kit and a Wolfgang Puck immersion blender.

It’s debatable when the foodie trend started and when it took off. Among retailers enmeshed in the trend, Williams-Sonoma opened its first in San Francisco way back in 1956, selling a small array of cookware imported from France. The first Trader Joe’s opened in 1967 in Pasadena.

In 1978, college dropout John Mackey opened his first natural foods store in Austin — called SaferWay as a spoof on Safeway — before opening the original Whole Foods Market in the city in 1980.

Certainly supporting the foodie movement was the debut of The Food Network in 1993 that provided a stage for celebrity chefs. Also fueling the movement was the health & wellness trend as well as digital life, which Laura Fiorilli-Crews, a writer for South Carolina Now, recently said has led in recent years to a "gravitation toward sensory experience."

As with any popular trend, foodies now have a growing crop of critics. To some, an intensifying locavore movement, the rollout of food trucks across even small cities, and celebrity chefs seemingly everywhere are signs of a foodie culture going overboard. Other fans see those extremes as signs of momentum.

USA Today recently did a piece on how scores of celebrity chefs are opening restaurants and making personal appearances on cruise ships.

"Forty years ago mothers wanted their daughter to marry a lawyer or a doctor, certainly not a cook. Now we are geniuses," Jacques Pépin, a French chef who has a PBS cooking show, told USA Today. "You used to go to a restaurant before theater. Now the restaurant itself has become the theater."

Discussion Questions: Do you see the foodie movement becoming more mainstream in the years ahead? What factors may drive or slow the trend? How will it play out in mainstream food stores?

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5 Comments on "A Foodies Christmas"


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Richard J. George, Ph.D.
Guest
9 years 4 months ago

I see no end to this trend. According to Nielsen, cookbook sales are up 10% while all other books sales are down 6%. Prime time viewing of the Food Network is over 1 million visitors, spending an average of 64 minutes viewing. Food and cooking websites are attracting 66 to 86 million unique monthly visitors.

This is a terrific opportunity for mainstream food stores to take a leadership position instead of being “first at being second.”

Ralph Jacobson
Guest
9 years 4 months ago

“Food” isn’t a fad. People have loved free samples in stores for decades. When I managed a grocery store years ago, I used to hold cooking classes on the sales floor. Today, that would be more popular than ever. For instance, how may people know how to properly prepare scallops? Well, instead of letting them rot in your seafood case, how about having a sparkling personality in the store cook some up for the shoppers? Set our a dozen folding chairs in front of the seafood case, put up a skillet on a table and talk it up over the PA system. Hand out coupons for a fish special, or whatever!

Yes, this “Foodie” movement can be as big as we make it. Make it happen!

Lee Peterson
Guest
9 years 4 months ago

We’ve been saying “food is fashion” here for a while — because it is. Starting with Whole Foods and moving to mass restaurants like Chipotle and now culminating in amazing one-off grocers, restaurants and retail shops all over the U.S., the turn of heads toward new, unpredictable flavors and healthier choices has been nothing short of amazing over the last decade.

I saw a speaker at IRDC in SF this year who said, “I was asked to speak on retail trends, but all I want to talk about is food!” Right! Partly because retail has been stagnant and partly due to a new awareness and exploration of the best or most unusual components of the food universe, food has become trendy and top of mind, i.e., fashionable.

I love it — can’t wait for the next runway show.

Bernice Hurst
Guest
9 years 4 months ago

Foodie movement mainstream???!!!

Gourmet = gourmand???!!!

Does the word oxymoron occur to anyone other than me???!!!

M. Jericho Banks PhD
Guest
M. Jericho Banks PhD
9 years 4 months ago

Hi. My name is Doc and I’m an unrepentant foodie. For like-minded folk, let me recommend a couple of gifts I’m giving to others (and to myself): A book about salt (yes, salt), and a salt seller (not cellar). You won’t be sorry.

The so-called “foodie movement” isn’t new. Instead, it’s validated by the decades-old, steady, rising, showing-no-signs-of-slowing-down sales of kitchen equipment and other cooking equipment (outdoor grilling stuff). Surprise! It’s already mainstream.

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