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The Crumb for April 7th, 2017

Lori Bailey / April 7th 2017

The new put-an-egg-on-it? Put a face on it.


Happy Friday! Grab a sparkling water—Perrier or Topo Chico?—and settle into this past week's food news.
 

It's hip to be a hippie

Veganism, granola, tahini, turmeric—"hippie" food has made it mainstream. Call it a fad, but one can't ignore the slow and steady advance of nut milks and kombucha, heirloom vegetables and ancient grains, onto menus all the way from fine dining to food trucks. Adopters of the natural food movement seem intent on change: people looking for ways to live better and feel better; adults who grew up on flavorless, frozen grocery aisle dinners; digitally-saturated Millennials seeking an "real" experience. Whatever the case, if you've been eating kale since the 1970's... permission to say you were doing it before it was cool.

 

Fast-Casual levels up

Welcome to Fast-Casual 2.0, the next stop on this crazy fast-casual ride. Unlike fast-casual 1.0 (or, you know, just regular fast-casual), this sub-category covers small restaurant chains focused on chef-driven menus, hospitality, local and/or high-quality ingredients, andexperience over monetary value. These restaurants also grow roots in their communities, aiming for relationships over explosive growth and extraordinary profits. Sounds idealistic, but that idealism could be the big innovation fast-casual needs. Check out the full list of 40 under 40 and decide for yourself.

 

Better baby food

Parents out there, you've seen it: that eternally shelf-stable goop on the grocery store counter, labeled "baby food." Highly processed for maximum safety, but unfortunately the same processes that eliminate bacteria also zap color, flavor, and important nutrients needed for healthy growth. Enter Once Upon A Farm, a fresher, more nutritionally-dense baby food that's free of preservatives. Using innovative cold-pressure pasteurization technology, they're able to retain more texture, flavor, and nutrition than the common heat-pasteurized stuff. It's a game-changer in the baby food category, and investors are eating it up.

 

Panera moves in with Krispy Kreme

In the second-biggest restaurant deal ever, Panera was bought this past week by German investment empire JAB Holdings. Recently, JAB's been grabbing restaurant and coffee chains by the fistful; other acquisitions include Krispy Kreme, Caribou Coffee, and coffee-pod-maker Keurig Green Mountain. Panera's been showing better-than-expected sales recently, and this new development opens up opportunities to expand their tech and delivery options. But first—rock, paper, scissors for bottom bunk.

 

Lights, camera, dinner

Mashing a functioning restaurant with a live-broadcast reality show sounds equal parts evil genius and appalling monstrosity. While the concept may seem like an attempt to tailor an experience based on vapid sterotypes of millennials, the idea was actually sparked nearly two decades ago when restaurateur Joe Barbour watched The Truman Show. Fast forward, and beautiful Brooklynites can stroll into Live On Air (or LOA for short) and participate in a live-streaming media-fest while noshing on Broadcast Nachos. Top tip: bring floss for those pearly whites.


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