Apr 23 2020
With restaurants closing their doors, COVID lockdowns have led to a surge in cooking and baking at home. YPulse’s COVID-19 special report on hobbies and pastimes in quarantine found that 63% of 13-39-year-olds are cooking more at home because of Coronavirus, and 40% say they’re regularly cooking and baking in their free time for pleasure. Mix that in with social media, and you’ve got young consumers who are highlighting their in-home creations online. Hashtags like #quickrecipes on TikTok have billions of views on the platform as young users post their home cooking ideas, and watch others’ tips and hacks. After all, hobbies are becoming “the ultimate humblebrag.”
Food brands have of course been focusing on quarantine cooking, with popular food and restaurant brands unveiling the secret recipes for their favorite signature dishes for customers to recreate at home, and food publications like Eater and Bon Appetit shifting their coverage to feature more videos and content about how to cook at while quarantined. But even as social distancing rules are lifted, many of their at-home cooking habits will continue. Experts believe that young people are likely to not rush out to grocery stores or larger gatherings right away—and food companies will continue to benefit from sales as keep stocking up on ingredients. It stands to reason that at home cooking trends will also keep going, making today’s trending food hashtags a glimpse at the future of foodie behavior.
Here are some of the biggest quarantine food trends, and what they tell us about the long-term cooking habits of young consumers:
All over the world, social media users are #quarantinebaking everything from snacks to elegant desserts. Pre-made bread is already high in demand as consumers stockpile goods, but quarantine bread baking is perhaps one of the biggest food trends right now. Consumers have been getting their own sourdough starters and baking their own bread—leading to flour and yeast flying off the shelves. From focaccia to brioche, different types of bread are filling bakers’ ovens—and homes. Banana bread, for instance, is experiencing a “renaissance” during the pandemic as some grocery shoppers make use of their extra bananas. To reduce food waste, those with sourdough starters have been repurposing their discards into pancakes, waffles, cookies, scones, and other tasty snacks. While at-home bread baking is likely at its peak right now, and flour and yeast shortages will end, young consumers will likely continue to cook the things that bring them comfort. Bread baking has become a stress relief for many, and a collective activity as well, as friends share recipes and try out this new skill. That desire for comfort and connection in the kitchen will not end anytime soon.
Whipped / Dalgona Coffee
Dalgona coffee, or whipped coffee, is a beverage originating in South Korea, containing only three ingredients—instant coffee, sugar, and hot water—with a fluffy, aerated texture, and it’s all over young people’s social media feeds. On TikTok, the hashtag #whippedcoffee has 1.5 billion views. It’s even led to influencers like Valentina Mussi (who has 223K followers on Instagram) to make a variety of other drinks, like whipped milk with strawberry and chocolate flavoring, and whipped matcha. Food influencer Eloise Head even showed her Instagram fans how to make Nutella whipped coffee—showing that there’s many ways to be creative when it comes to “whipping” drinks. Coffee is one of the staples selling like crazy during this time, and Dalgona coffee is giving young consumers the feeling of a professionally made coffee at home. Pre-COVID, they were more likely to buy coffee out of home than older consumers. But post-quarantines, their visits to coffee shops could be curbed by continued fears or tighter budgets. Dalgona shows that they still want that fancier coffee feeling, and they’ll get creative to replicate it for themselves.
Regrowing Vegetables on Windowsills
Since many young consumers (especially city dwellers) don’t have the outdoor space to start a garden, many of them are getting resourceful by using leftover root ends to grow scallions and leek jars and glasses full of water on their windowsill. For many first-time vegetable growers, it’s become a way to cut down on food waste, and to save both money and time as grocery shopping continues to become an almost impossible task. For some, regrowing their own vegetables has become an emotional outlet for those who want “something to look after” during a difficult time. What the trend clearly shows is that reducing food waste, and finding hacks to cut down on grocery costs, is top of mind. Again, budgets will be tight for many young consumers for some time, so expect at-home hacks for making food last and stretch as far as it will go to keep their interest.
Live Social Food Classes
With restaurants closed across the country, many businesses are finding that takeout and delivery options are enough to keep them afloat— so chefs are hosting live cooking classes on Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, and Twitter to demonstrate and share recipes. These classes are useful and coincide with young people who are hosting and attending virtual dinners on video conference platforms like Zoom. Since “cheap wine” is popular with young drinkers who are trying to save money, virtual wine classes and tastings are on the rise as well. Popular Instagram account @ThatCheesePlate, has been hosting virtual events like happy hours that double as cheese board building classes. Live content has seen a major boost during quarantine, with influencers and brands alike flocking to Instagram Live. In the food world, it’s become a way for chefs and fans alike to connect with their community and support each other, and now the social feeds of food personalities are turning into their own mini-Food Networks. They’re connecting with fans and building communities and followers that will keep watching, and live food class content has the potential to become a permanent part of the food media landscape.
Yes, cheap wine is a go-to for those imbibing at home (see above) but some are looking to have make more elaborate drinks and replicate the cocktails they can’t buy in bars right now. Alcohol is certainly having a moment, with 36% of 21-39-year-olds telling YPulse they’ve been drinking more often because of Coronavirus. With bars and restaurants closed, it’s changed the stigma around “drinking alone,” and at-home bartending is getting trendy. Celebrities like chef Ina Garten and Stanley Tucci (in his “inexplicably sexy Negroni video”) have gone viral for mixing their own cocktails at home. Many bartenders have hosted DIY online classes, and at-home cocktail kits like Cocktail Courier all over Instagram. Young consumers who want to continue to stay at home more may keep practicing their at-home mixology skills going forward.
White Claw Slushies
Speaking of creative at-home drinking…White Claw slushies are a thing right now. Pre-pandemic, our nightlife and drinking survey found that hard seltzer was already a favorite drink of Gen Z and Millennials. Thanks to Millennials and their memes, White Claw quickly became the drink of the summer—and now, they’ve brought them into quarantine with them. On TikTok, users have been seen making White Claw slushies, mixing their favorite flavor with some fresh or frozen fruit, and a liquor of their choice. Clearly White Claw (and hard seltzer’s) moment in the sun is not over. Expect that some of the drinking trends started before COVID will keep growing, including beer alternatives, and flavor-forward drinks.
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