Leveraging Mash-Ups to Build Your Brand

food mash ups

Food mash-ups… even if you don’t know what they are you have probably experienced them. Taco Bell’s taco with the Doritos shell, pretzel burgers, and cronuts are only a few of the recent combinations.

What’s a Mash-Up?

A mash-up, to put it simply, is a unique combination of two foods to create a new food — the stranger the better. Popular mash-ups across country currently are:

  • Ramen Burger – a traditionally hamburger patty between two discs of compressed ramen noodles
  • Cheetos Macaroons – a French macaroon made with crushed Cheetos
  • Chicken Waffle Tenders – chicken tenders dipped in waffle batter and fried
  • Cookie stuffed with other cookies –  Oreo stuffed chocolate chips, chocolate chips stuffed with brownies, etc
  • Pop Tart Ice Cream Sandwich – exactly what it says
  • Waffle Taco – scrambled eggs, sausage, and syrup wrapped in a waffle
  • Cap’n Crunch Friend Chicken – traditional friend chicken crumb coated in smushed Cap’n Crunch
  • Fruit Loops Donuts – donuts made with the cereal crumbs
  • Red Velvet Ravioli

You get the idea. Chefs and home cooks from all over are creating unique combinations that probably shouldn’t work but somehow they do.

How Can I Leverage the Trend for My Business?

The question is how can you leverage people’s craving for the unique into profits?

Keep in mind that mash-ups are trendy. That means that they are likely to  be immensely popular for a little while. You’ll sell out of a popular product in two hours for weeks and then one day you won’t be able to give them away. Prepare for it, plan for it because it will happen. Trends are a way to build your brand and familiarize people with your business so that they will become loyal customers and buy other, more permanent things on the menu.

You can try to do what other people are doing and ride the coattails of their popularity or you can experiment with flavors on your own. Creating a successful mash-up is a combination of luck, a good palate, and lots of experimenting.

If you are going to try to create your own mash-up one of the easiest ways to do it is to start with one that is already popular and remake it. Make Fruit Loops donuts, for example, but substitute another cereal and a different type of doughnut dough. Think of your favorite foods and see if you can think of a way to put them together. Desserts seem to be the easiest and work the best but there are obviously savory foods that unexpectedly work well together, too.

Adding Mash-Ups to Your Menu

Whether you run a catering company, have a personal cheffing business, own a popular eatery, or drive a food truck getting in on this trend can help you grow. The best way to get the word out about your new, delicious menu item is to give samples away. Add it to every order that comes in. Get your customers’ feedback and make adjustments until it is just right.

Of course, there are no guarantees that it will go viral but you will have given it your best shot, right?

Whether you use someone else’s recipe for inspiration or come up with your own keep in mind that this is a fun addition to your menu. Mash-ups work best if they are only on the menu for a short period of time and then replaced with something new. You can rotate several items to keep your customers wanting more. If you watch large companies you’ll see them do the same. Blue Bell ice cream, for example, regularly brings out limited edition ice cream flavors that are available for a few months before they disappear. The whole point is to keep people interested.

What are your favorite mash-ups?

photo credit: zombieite via photopin cc

- Marye Audet

Marye Audet is an author, freelance writer, and editor. Cooking, baking, and recipe development have been a major part of her life since she baked her first loaf of bread at age 13. Luckily, with a husband, eight children, a son in law, and three grandchildren she has enough test-tasters to handle the steady stream of experiments that come from her kitchen.

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