By James Leggate
Published July 10, 2020
Last summer’s “chicken sandwich war” between fast food chains was just the beginning.
The explosion in popularity that saw Popeyes temporarily sell out of its chicken sandwiches last year prompted other chains and independent restaurants to add chicken sandwiches to their menus, and spicy chicken sandwiches have seen a nearly 300 percent rise in popularity this year, according to food delivery app Grubhub.
The service analyzed orders made on its platform during the first six months of 2020 to determine the most popular food orders for its “State of the Plate” report. While spicy chicken sandwiches saw the greatest rise in popularity with a 299 percent jump, plant-based burgers weren’t far behind – they were 291 percent more popular, according to the report.
Other popular items with a more-than-200 percent rise this year include vanilla shakes, iced lattes, chili and cinnamon rolls, according to Grubhub.
Meal delivery services like Grubhub have seen significant growth this year as the coronavirus pandemic has forced many Americans to stay home and closed sit-down dining. The industry had more than $350 million in sales in May, according to Second Measure, an analytics firm.
Grubhub saw large increases in orders of comfort foods and shareable items during the pandemic shutdowns. The company said red velvet cupcakes, Cajun shrimp chicken pasta and cheeseburger sliders were among the most popular foods nationwide since stay-home orders began being issues in March. And customer searches for items like wine, cake, boba tea, beer and doughnuts also spiked amid the pandemic.
“Over the months, Grubhub has observed diners turn to comfort foods, order alcoholic beverages and D.I.Y. orders,” the report states.
Orders of meal kits through Grubhub also rose 55 percent year-over-year, according to the report. Kits for do-it-yourself burgers, lobster rolls, salad, pizzas and gyros were among the most popular options.
Grubhub also looked back at its past two years of data to predict items that will be the most popular this summer and in the fall. The report states that vegetable biryani, spinach and artichoke wontons and Mexican shrimp cocktails will be among the most popular items this summer.
Looking ahead to the fall, Grubhub predicted that customers will be ordering miso tofu bowls, quinoa taco salad and mushroom burgers.
“Summer is seeing lighter fare while the fall heats up with a little spice,” Grubhub wrote in the report.