Get Saucy: Flavorful condiments get prime space on the table

flavorful condiments are trending like McDonald's Mambo Sauce, photo provided by McDonald's
flavorful condiments are trending like McDonald's Mambo Sauce, photo provided by McDonald's /

From burgers to chicken, flavorful condiments transform a boring bite into something more. Although those sauces should never overpower the primary flavor of the dish, the reality is that people are ready, willing, and able to sauce it up. On the side is no longer part of the conversation.

Sometimes people think of a sauce as a way to avoid dry, bland food. It might be seen as a cover-up to an imperfect dish. Although that food concept has merit, recent trends show that it is more than just a simple helper. Many people are gravitating toward the sauce first.

For example, when McDonald’s added Mambo Sauce to the menu, it served as a celebration of food and culture. Chicago and Washington D.C. communities knew of this sweet and tangy delight long before the television commercials filled the airwaves. It is a celebration of regional food culture.

Although some people might have wished to keep this delight to themselves, the limited time offering sparks a conversation beyond dipping a chicken nugget into the container. That combination of vinegar, sweet, and spice is far different from just another tomato-based sauce.

The versatility that the sauce offers ensures that every dish on the menu works with it. Whether it is the first drizzle or the millionth, it is a reminder to celebrate authenticity. The real sauce makers are driving those food trends long before they hit the masses.

The flavorful condiments conversation is not limited to the restaurant space. While that arena with its specialty offerings and small packets makes it easy to take that first dip, the grocery store aisle is overflowing with options.

Today’s consumer enjoys the ability to find mayoketchup next to a classic variety. That Puerto Rican mainstay is just as important as the gochujang variety with its spicy, fermented kick.

Even just the name “special sauce” can get a spirited conversation going. For example, Walmart’s Great Value Secret Sauce has found a big audience. People cannot get enough of the flavor and some prefer it to some restaurant options.

While the name “special” is not necessarily a flavor descriptor, it is a taste to make the meal more enjoyable. People enjoy the flavor and are willing to explore its versatility.

Many flavorful condiments on the shelf can start with one use and then evolve to something more. Hellman’s Drizzle Sauces, Wahlburger’s Wahl Sauce, and a variety of other food items fall into that category. If a cook loves it on a burger, they might want to see how it works on chicken sandwich or as a topping for a baked potato. A little food and flavor experimentation never hurt anyone.

It might be time to buy a bigger condiment caddy. It seems that this food trend is only growing.

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