Why Americans Are Demanding Fried Food
In Need of Comfort
It seems altered eating habits can be included among the many ways the pandemic has disrupted Americans’ lives. In the face of familiar work and life routines being thrown into disarray, many found solace in the form of fried foods. Some argue these foods provide an almost therapeutic benefit in their tasty appeal and warm feeling of satiation.
By contrast, interest in dieting appears to be waning. WW International (WW), previously Weight Watchers, has seen diminished interest in shedding pounds. The company’s most recent earnings report noted a 20% decline in online searches for diet programs.
Instead, market observers have witnessed an explosion in the popularity of fried foods going back to 2020. Lamb Weston Holdings (LW), which supplies fast food chains with French fries, has noted an increase in the “fry attachment rate,” which essentially means more and more consumers are adding fries to their meal order.
Several fast-food restaurants, including McDonald’s (MCD), Shake Shack (SHAK), and Jack in the Box (JACK), added new fried chicken sandwiches to their menus since the start of the pandemic. Looked at another way, deep fryers are getting put into overdrive. One company that services oil fryers for restaurants noted a 93% increase in repair calls from the beginning of the pandemic to the end of 2021.
Almost Health Food
Even the health-conscious seem to be succumbing to the lure of fried food. In an effort to get the flavor and comfort without the negative consequences, customers are looking for alternatives to soaking their food in vats of oil. Instead, they are turning to air fryers, which rapidly circulate hot air and give food a fried taste. These convection ovens were one of 2021’s most popular gifts and more than 40% of Americans now own one.
Some believe that indulging in delicious comfort food may trigger the release of serotonin and even alleviate symptoms of depression. It may be a stretch, but comfort-seekers will welcome the excuse to identify fried fare as a form of “mental health” food.
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