As the economy has shrunk in the last two years, so have many food itemsâ€”on both restaurant menus and grocery shelves. â€˜Mini-size Meâ€™ seems to be the new mantra.
Restaurants have totally embraced the snack-size concept. According to Chicago research firm Mintel, the number of menu items listed as snacks jumped nearly 170 percent between 2007 and 2010. Items described as “mini” rose a whopping 400 percent over the same period.
We’ve got McDonald’s promoting its snack wraps, while too many chains to mention have added mini burgers and other similar mini sandwiches that have come to be know as sliders (in an apparent nod to the grandfather of the mini burger, White Castle).
In another example, Boston-based bakery/cafÃ© chain Au Bon Pain has a new line of mini-pastries it’s testing that sell for $1.19 each that are about half the size of ABP’s regular baked goods, such as muffins and croissants.
Pre-recession, the chains were looking at snacks as a way to sell products between the lunch and dinner rush and other slow dayparts. Now, with consumers’ budgets still squeezed, lower-priced snacks are becoming replacements for center-of-the-plate items to help the chains simply sustain business during the economic downturn.
In the supermarket aisle, the mini movement continues unabated. This spring, Kraft Foods launched PHILADELPHIA Minis. These snap-apart individual, portion-controlled containers of PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese offer consumers convenient snacking options at the office or away from home. Spreadable for crackers or for dipping with veggies, PHILADELPHIA Minis have the magic number working for them: Each mini contains 100 calories or fewer.
New dinky Twinkies
Hostess has introduced mini-size Twinkies, called Twinkie Bites. They’re smaller and cheaper and also packaged in 100-calorie snack packs. Hostess sees the smaller, bite-size packages as more appealing to its on-the-go market and anticipates that the lil’ Twinkie will find its way into more brown bags and school lunch boxes than ever.
Other brands that have gone â€˜miniâ€™ with their snack products include Sunmaid Raisins, Glucerna Oatmeal Bars, and Keebler Mini Cookies.
Little, it seems, has never been bigger.
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