Sometimes all it takes is a little sizzle. One example of manipulating a menu to boost the appeal of individual dishes? Just add bacon. People love bacon and its versatility means that it can be added to virtually any menu item, from sandwiches to burgers, to soups and salads.
Deeper research into the bacon phenomenon conducted by Wired magazine in partnership with Food Network, using Big Data encompassing nearly 1 million food ratings, revealed bacon’s potency as an ingredient:
“We searched out all the recipes that fit a certain description – sandwiches, for example. Then, we calculated the average rating for those foods if they did not include the word ‘bacon’. We ran the numbers again using only recipes that did include bacon. Of all the foods we analyzed, bacon lends the most improvement to sandwiches. Many other foods also benefited. In fact, we found that when you crunch the data for all recipes, those with bacon do in fact rate higher.”
People Love Bacon:
Myth CONFIRMED. That’s old news to restaurant businesses, which have been adjusting recipes and menus for years to chase our seemingly insatiable demand for more bacon.
However, applying the powers of Big Data to the bacon phenomenon is just the beginning. Researchers at the University of Michigan replicated the Wired-Food Network data analysis and expanded on it to include more data, from a more diverse set of inputs, to example other ingredients and gauge their relative popularity. The University of Michigan study determined that several ingredients can boost a meal’s rating (and presumably diner satisfaction) even higher, including feta and cream cheese, cranberries, strawberries, avocado and “whipped topping.”
The lesson here isn’t to start smothering all your menu items in cranberries and whipped topping. Big Data analysis is a powerful tool, but for maximum effect, it needs to operate within your context. When Big Data is scaled to your footprint, seeded with your relevant data, and oriented to recognize your goals, the resulting insights can be used to make better menu decisions. With a competent hand at the Big Data wheel, you can make adjustments that cut costs, improve efficiency, satisfy guests and grow revenues.
And that’s how you do bacon for the 21st century.