A Nation of Weird Eaters

Did you see this about us (I mean US[A])?

Every company that makes or serves food in America has had to digest the same reality: We’ve become a nation of really weird eaters.

We eat what we want, when we want. No more of this breakfast, lunch and dinner stuff. We snack all day. We casually skip meals. And we want to customize everything we cram into our mouths.

It’s as if our social-media habits are going right to our stomachs….

These may seem like quirky, student eating habits, but they’re evolving into lifetime traits. The numbers are mind-boggling. At least 35% of the meals eaten by Millennials aren’t meals at all, but snacks, reports consultancy The Kruse Company. Four in 10 Millennials snack more than once daily, reports research firm Technomic. And only 5% of all consumers eat three square meals a day, says Technomic….

Perhaps that’s why 20% of the cookies and apple pies sold by McDonald’s are at breakfast — and why one of its biggest “limited time” product roll-outs in 2012 won’t be a burger, but McBites, a popcorn-size chicken snack. It’s why Dunkin’ Donuts sells gobs of Chicken Salad sandwiches at 9 a.m. And why half the products Denny’s sells are breakfast items. It’s why Kellogg has marketed Special K Chocolatey Delight and Rice Krispies

as after-dinner snacks. And, it’s why 20% of the folks who buy Stonyfield yogurt eat it instead of dinner.

“I don’t think my kids have eaten a real meal since last Thanksgiving,” laments Stan Frankenthaler, vice president of innovation at Dunkin’ Brands, which owns Dunkin’ Donuts and Baskin-Robbins….

This eat-what-I-want-when-I-want trend is changing some of the biggest names in food — from McDonald’s to Kraft to Kellogg to Dunkin’ Brands. Most have turned their new product labs and test kitchens on their heads. It’s no longer about inventing the next big meal, but about concocting the next big snack.

About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than forty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.

  • SteveCr48

    Whose changing whom? Are consumers changing the food industry, or is the industry changing consumers?

    Read David Kessler’s “The End of Overeating” for one compelling perspective. Meddler argues that it’s all about profits – put sugar, fat, and salt on every street corner; make it available 24X7; and make it socially acceptable to eat any and all of the time. The results are hardly surprising: obesity and profitability.

  • Taylor

    I wonder if maybe this is looking at two separate issues. I live in Korea, and the idea of eating a particular sort of food at a particular meal is considered strange.

    I get odd looks form my coworkers when we go on retreats and I raid the local convenience store for cereal and milk instead of eating kimchi, soup, and rice. Merging our meal choices may just be a normalizing of American eating habits.

    Snacking and missing meals I suppose is a different story.

  • Matt

    I agree Taylor.


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