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Soupy Sales

Cheddarbroccoli For reasons not even entirely clear to myself, I enjoy hearing what consumers want to eat (yet never lump myself in with this faceless mass of Americans).

According to a recent series of reports, "The Left Side of the Menu," from Technomic, the number of "heavy" (not defined) consumers of appetizers is shrinking. Big salad eaters shrunk from 51% in 2007 to a current 33%. The soup-crazed stood at 25% two years ago but now only make up 15% of all diners. I'm guessing that's probably because it's hard to split soup, and I'm with the whopping 82% who feel appetizers should be shared.

But the number I'm trying to figure out is the 40% of Americans who want more "ethnic soups." What exactly is an ethnic soup? Something like pho? Laksa? Menudo? Does Italian wedding soup count? I think they used to serve that at Ikea. I vote for cock-a-leekie.

I took a look at the online menus from the top five casual chain restaurants in 2008 according to Restaurants & Institutions:

  1. Applebee's: chili, French onion soup, tomato-basil. Hmm, Tex-Mex, French and Italian. It all sounds pretty ethnic to me.
  2. Chili’s: chili (duh) and “soup of the day.” Lame.
  3. T.G.I. Friday’s: broccoli cheese, French onion and once again, the dreaded soup of the day.
  4. Ruby Tuesday: white bean chicken chili or broccoli and cheese.
  5. Cheesecake Factory: soup of the day.

Ok, not only are we clearly in need of more ethnic soups, how about something other than chili (if you even count that as a soup), French onion and cheese and broccoli?

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