It’s no secret that we are experiencing a very different holiday season this year, with many people finding themselves longing for stability and human connection. With many countries putting in place restrictions for the holiday season, one way to find comfort is through familiarity and, much like Proust’s experience with a madeleine cake in In Search of a Lost Time, many of us will be embracing festive and traditional flavours that evoke memories and nostalgia over the coming months.
When you think of Christmas flavours, the mind is drawn to comfort, warmth, and spice; you can hardly move in December without seeing cinnamon, gingerbread, and mulled spices appearing in every coffee shop and bakery. These flavours are often paired with complementary wintry fruits, ranging from traditional classics like spiced apple to more adventurous combinations, such as mulled wine infused with berries. Fruity desserts can be enriched to create wonderful fruit pies with pumpkin or rhubarb, berry trifles and many more. Winter produce, already popular during the festive period, is set to be particularly on trend this year as consumers look to pair these seasonal flavours, such as pears and cranberries, with Christmassy spices to create that nostalgic experience. Thorntons’ Continental Winter Markets chocolate box, for example, has been expanded to include wintry fruit and spice combinations such as speculoos and clementine.
A Christmas health halo
One of the top trends going into 2021 is expected to be ‘healthy indulgence’, and consumers looking for healthy alternatives aren’t willing to compromise on those nostalgic feelings that will give a sense of normality this year. Fruity flavours, with their inherent natural sweetness, may not go far enough for health-conscious consumers, who are looking to vegetable alternatives to lower sugar levels whilst still maintaining the nostalgic feeling of the product. Much like the rise in pumpkin-spiced food and drink in the autumn, vegetables can make a great addition to Christmassy sweet treats, including using courgette in chocolatey desserts and carrot in traditional fruitcakes.
Creative comfort food
Utilising a blend of nostalgic spices with health-conscious fruit- or vegetable-based ingredients is a great way for R&D teams to develop trend-led products that address the needs of consumers during a particularly complicated holiday season. This year, for example, Fatherson Bakery has launched a Crumble Topped Port and Cranberry Pie, and the Great British Porridge Co. has introduced a limited-edition festive Apple & Cinnamon flavour to their porridge range.
Despite a challenging festive season, comforting products that remind consumers of happier times can help to ease the uncertainty. If you’re looking for ways to create innovative products that combine the nostalgia of traditional winter flavours with the added health benefits of real fruit ingredients, SVZ can help. Get in touch to discover the full range of products on offer!