Have you heard of the Ramen Burger before? What about the Cronut? The Rainbow Bagel? Sushiritto? Cruffin? Pizzaception? These are just some of the food trends that have taken social media by storm the past few years.
The Bagel Store is a store in Williamsburg that sells, surprise surprise, bagels. They had been making their rainbow bagels for 20 years when a INSIDER Food video on Facebook showcased the process of how they made their bagels. The video was viewed over 67 million times and shared over 800,000 times on Facebook. People were amazed by these rainbow bagels – so amazed that the Bagel Store had to shut down because they couldn’t meet the increased demand.
Another recent food trend is those crazy milkshakes you’ve been seeing on social media.
Also located in New York City, Black Tap Craft Burgers & Beer creates milkshakes topped with things like cotton candy, slices of cake, and caramel apples. After a BuzzFeed post featured the milkshakes, Black Tap found themselves with a four hour wait of customers lining up to try these milkshakes.
Here, they purposefully tried to go viral. The founder worked with their social media manager to create something that people would find interesting. However, even he didn’t expect the level of attention that the milkshakes would end up getting. The staff at Black Tap had to figure out ways to manage the lines so that the crowd wouldn’t be blocking any walkways.
However, while Black Tap’s manager had tried to go viral, many businesses aren’t the ones who tried to initiate the trend – it’s other people causing them to go viral. Influencers (including celebrities) who post about these places are able to spread the word to their thousands of followers, which encourages the food trend to become, well, a trend. In the case of the Bagel Store, they had been making these rainbow bagels for 20 years. It was people who started posting pictures of the bagels on Instagram that caused them to go viral.
Word of mouth has been a trusted source for ages, but through word of mouth you could only tell a handful of people at a time. With social media, it becomes easier to spread the word about something new and cool to thousands of people at a time. Instagram especially has become a place for “foodies” to post pictures of the delicious looking food they get to eat.
Although I bet most restaurants appreciate the added publicity, it does cause a problem. Most of these places offering the trendy food items are small and cannot keep up with the insane level of demand, as shown by what happened with The Bagel Store.
The Ramen Burger was sold at a small stand at Brooklyn’s Smorgasburg – it didn’t even have its own store. Lines got insanely long and people would wait for hours to try the burger.
It’s not just managing the lines that can be an issue for the businesses – it’s also a matter of being able to stock enough supplies and have enough staff on hand to be able to respond to the increase in demand. Plus, you still want to make sure your product is of high-quality, and not let the increased production negatively impact the quality.
In the case of Black Tap’s milkshakes, when the owner tried calling his supplier to get more ice cream, his supplier told him that he had already purchased everything available. He had to adjust his ordering amounts as well as restructure his employee shifts so there would be enough hands on deck to cover the demand.
During the time they were closed, the Bagel Store rearranged the kitchen to make more room and to make the process more efficient. The owner was so overwhelmed that he had to take time off to restructure everything.
What’s the takeaway here for businesses? Well, to be fair the chances of going viral are incredibly slim. But thanks to social media, it’s definitely possible. Although the odds of it happening to most business are rare, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to have a game plan in mind just in case one of the Jenner sisters ‘grams your food. And if you want to go viral, New York wouldn’t be a bad place to be.