Dining Out: Minis are Big

Consumers have always been attracted to big. SUV’s, steaks, the biggest piece of birthday cake; even rationalizing decisions with the philosophy “go big or go home.” However, this time of year is layered with New Year’s resolution guilt and suddenly, big feels a little out of place. Good thing there are minis to fill the bill. It seems like everywhere you look there are small plates or small bites giving the consumer the ability to have “one’s cake and eat it too”. Small bites are a great solution for restaurants looking to sell more units as consumers find them hard to resist. Join us on for a big look of what’s small in food.

First a few stats on minis and small plates:

  • Nation’s Restaurant News’ annual “What’s Hot Survey” reveals chefs and food professionals see mini-desserts (42%) and sliders (37%) on the rise.1
  • Snacks have increased 7% compared to stagnant breakfast, lunch and dinner segments.2 British grocer Waitrose expects a 4th meal to become the norm and small bites align perfectly with this projected trend.3
  • Delivery expert Grubhub witnessed an 109% growth in popularity of the mini-corn dog in its orders along with mac n’ cheese bites and pretzel bites.4

And from a consumer perspective, small plates are easier to share, allow for more experimentation, and give more opportunity to experience a menu. Denver restaurant, Acorn, boasts an extensive menu built around sharing, something that Millennial consumers seek. From the restaurant’s point of view, small bites provide an added benefit in that they don’t require as much skill or labor. With restaurants struggling to retain and find high quality of both and the news that there will be 200,000 new kitchen jobs in the next decade alone, we might be seeing more charcuterie plates than ever.

Season’s 52, known for its health-conscious menu, is famous for its dessert offering of seasonal two-bite desserts. For $3 and 300 calories, consumers can indulge in sweets like a Chocolate Peanut Butter Torte or Key Lime Pie. Even weddings, which can be over-the-top experiences for many guests, are going small. Brides and grooms are choosing to forego the traditional tiered cake for mini dessert bars with options like s’mores, doughnuts and custom cookies.

Finally, if you haven’t seen any of the tiny food being created by masterful chefs on YouTube, you are missing out. Miniature Space has almost 2 million subscribers who are obsessed with watching everything from cinnamon rolls to sushi to stir fry being made with tiny tools in a tiny kitchen. The miniature chocolate cake video alone has over 23 million views. That’s big.

Working on a mini formulation? Nikken’s real food ingredients bring big doses of umami to any sized plate. Our technical experts are on-hand with solutions to your challenges both large and small.  Contact us today.



  1. Whats_Hot_Culinary_Forecast_2018
  2. http://www.nrn.com/whats-hot/restaurants-step-snacks
  3. http://www.foodandwine.com/news/food-trends-2018
  4. https://media.grubhub.com/media/press-releases/press-release-details/2017/Grubhub-Uncovers-Delivery-Trends-and-Predicts-the-Next-Top-Foods-in-Annual-Year-In-Delivery-Report/default.aspx