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The Power of Nostalgia

By: Meredith Hollihan, Mintel
Posted: January 18, 2010

Today’s recession has for many triggered feelings of insecurity, stress and apprehension toward the future. During these times when morale is generally low, the need for stability and solace becomes apparent. As a result, food and beverage manufacturers are introducing brands with a nostalgic appeal. Nostalgia is a longing for the past, and in recent months more companies have designed products with attributes that remind consumers of “the good old days” when life seemed more carefree.

A New Twist on PB&J

Mintel Inspire’s Peanut Butter Love trend observation relays that 80% of Americans have peanut butter in their homes. Peanut butter is a staple food item that has a long shelf life, is relatively inexpensive, can be used in numerous baking and cooking recipes and is enjoyed when eaten alone or as a spread. Subsequently, many companies jump at the opportunity to create a product containing the nut-based spread.

In the United States, retailer Trader Joe’s capitalized on America’s love for PB&J with its launch of a PB&J snack bar. Trader Joe’s PB&J is a bar that contains peanut butter and raspberry jam sandwiched between a layer of milk and dark chocolate that is topped with crushed potato chips. The snack bar’s ingredient design that borrows from a basic peanut butter and jelly sandwich creates a niche for nostalgia. Peanut butter and jelly brings to mind memories of enjoying the satisfying jam and nut spread combo prepared by mom or dad during childhood.

Candy to Relive Fun Memories

While many products generate pleasant reminiscences of the past from their flavor or scent, others carry a sentimental feel for embracing a particular activity or experiential trend that was entertained years ago.

Frankford Candy & Chocolate Co., Inc., a top supplier of the United States’ licensed confectionery products, introduced a fruity candy assortment called Game Night. Game Night is fittingly licensed by Hasbro, one of the world’s largest toy and board game manufacturers. Game Night contains a variety of boiled sweets that come individually packaged in mini replicas of some of the all-time favorite Hasbro board games. These classic games include Operation, Life, Monopoly, Sorry and Clue. Frankford Candy & Chocolate Company positions Game Night as a treat to be shared with others when playing actual board games—a marketing effort that encourages consumers to relive some of their favorite pastimes that they relished as children.

Classic Soda Flavors Make a Comeback

One product category that is especially active in unveiling its established brands in retro or vintage designs as part of the broader nostalgia trend is the carbonated soft drinks segment. Soda drinks represent one mainstay of America’s culture that has significantly influenced many facets of consumerism today.