Complementary Thanksgiving flavors trend in quirky product mash-ups amid rising prices
25 Nov 2021 --- This Thanksgiving sees US consumers embrace category-bending NPD at all price points, from festive fast food offerings all the way through to gold-coated turkey.
FoodIngredientsFirst also takes a closer look at the science behind traditional favorites, as well as spotlighting Native Americans’ crucial role in developing and maintaining modern food systems.
“Ingredients in the typical Thanksgiving dinner have many flavor components in common. Root vegetables and members of the onion family share many similar flavor compounds,” explains Kantha Shelke, a food scientist and member of the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT).
For example, roasted turkey and fried turkey have compounds in common with apples, chocolate, pumpkin, pecans, molasses, honey, parsley leaves, ham, tomatoes and roasted vegetables.
Since the sense of smell is responsible for 80% of flavor perception, the tastes and aromas come together to create Thanksgiving flavors that complement each other well, she explains.
In the lead-up to Thanksgiving, there has been a cornucopia of offerings targeting festive flavors beyond the day itself.
For example, Perdue Premium Prepared Foods has launched Thanksdippings, two limited-edition dipping sauces. Spiced Apple Honey Mustard is inspired by herb and apple stuffing, while CranBBQ Sauce adds a dash of smokiness to the traditional Thanksgiving cranberry sauce.
They are designed to pair with Thanksnuggets, which feature sweet potato seasoned breading for the white meat nuggets and cranberries and stuffing flavored breading for the dark meat nuggets.
Meanwhile, 7-Eleven is offering a Thanksgiving Turkey Sub, featuring shaved Butterball turkey, sharp white cheddar cheese and cranberry mayo. This festive sandwich also marks the debut of 7-Eleven’s signature stuffing-flavored roll.
According to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), Thanksgiving staples are on average 5% more expensive this year than in previous years. For example, a large turkey will cost US$1 more than in 2020.
New Yorkers who are seeking out an extra extravagant restaurant option can turn to Empire Steak House, which is offering diners a 24 karat gold turkey, priced at US$2,500.
This year, members of the nutrition industry have also been debating the nutritional benefits and drawbacks of turkey.
Meanwhile, Tyson is spotlighting chicken, declaring it the official bird of Friendsgiving – a meal generally enjoyed with friends instead of family.
A recent survey of more than 1,000 consumers across the US revealed 65% of people who celebrate Friendsgiving want chicken during the holidays and 77% want to create new traditions, which may include anything from who is at the table to decorations to games played.
There’s a host of unusual dessert options this year, including Salt & Straw’s Friendsgiving ice cream series.
The five pints recreate seasonal classics: Parker House Rolls with Salted Buttercream, Candied Walnut Cheesecake, Caramelized Turkey & Cranberry Sauce, Sweet Potato Pie with Double Baked Almond Streusel, and Pumpkin & Gingersnap Pie.
Meanwhile, Reese’s unveiled a 9-inch peanut butter cup, positioned as an alternative to traditional pie. Containing 3.25 lb of solid peanut butter and chocolate, it is the largest Reese’s Cup on the market.
For those planning to consume the classic pumpkin pie, Shelke of IFT explains why most people enjoy it best warm or at room temperature.
“At room temperature, the filling has the perfect creamy texture and the crust is still delightfully crunchy and flaky. People who enjoy warm pumpkin pie are seeking its aromas, and they relish the flavors in the filling and the buttery notes of the crust.”
Meanwhile, Kerry recently revealed that while traditional indulgent flavors such as pumpkin spice, caramel and chocolate remain popular in beverages, there is a steady demand for infusing them with health benefits and plant-based offerings.
Back to the roots
While many US residents associate Thanksgiving with concepts of Pilgrims celebrating in harmony with Native Americans, some people mark the fourth Thursday in November as a national day of mourning, aiming to dispel myths and commemorate Native Americans lost to genocide.
Notably, many people overlook the role that Indigenous people have had in developing everything from peanuts and beans to pumpkins.
First Nations Development Institute notes that while only 5% of the world’s population is Indigenous, they hold 25% of land tenure and play a vital role in 80% of the world’s diversity, having domesticated 60% of the food eaten all over the world today.
“We have been stewards of this land, protectors of the water and guardians of our animal brothers and sisters since time immemorial,” the US-based organization emphasizes.
Indigenous groups continue to play key roles in the food system. Late last year, Clearwater Seafoods, Atlantic Canada’s largest wild seafood company, was jointly acquired for CA$1 billion (US$750 million) by Premium Brands and a Mi’kmaq First Nations coalition led by Membertou First Nation.
Meanwhile, New Zealand-based Pāmu produces deer milk, which could help improve the general nutrition of senior populations. Pāmu is the Māori word ‘to farm,’ and some farms will eventually return to iwi ownership as part of the Treaty of Waitangi settlements.
By Katherine Durrell
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