One night last month I was watching one of my favorite programs on one of my favorite networks: “Chopped” on the Food Network. It’s a 30-minute show that challenges three contestants to cook an appetizer, main course and dessert with ingredients from a mystery basket within an allotted—short—time period. I also watch the commercials. (Crazy, I know.)
One commercial in particular got me thinking about how far the consumer in the United States has come with regard to exploring new flavors and experimenting with new foods from other countries. It’s something that we at Beverage World write about often—super fruits and exotic flavors and herbs that are finding their way into the beverage aisle in good-for-you drinks promising health benefits and anti-aging properties, among other things.
The commercial was for a Buick Verano and featured dragon fruit and a cameo from Food Network personality Ted Allen (he’s also been used in Welch’s commercials, and is the host of “Chopped”). There’s a couple in the produce section of a supermarket. The man picks up a dragon fruit and asks, “Honey, what’s this?” Allen appears and replies, “That’s the Asian delicacy dragon fruit. You have very good taste.” Naturally, the woman recognizes Allen, replies “thanks” and explains that he is a famous chef. The voiceover comes on and says, “Unexpected pleasures are the best part of life. Why not drive one every day.” The commercial goes on to show the new Buick Verano and so on.
Dragon fruit is a bright pink fruit, classified as a cactus, predominantly found in South East Asia, Central and South America, Mexico and Israel. When cut open, the fruit itself is white, or sometimes a deep pink, with tiny black edible seeds. It tastes like something between a pear and a kiwi.
This is a fruit that has been mentioned in this magazine many times and has made its way into many drinks—alcohol and non-alcohol. SKYY Infusions has a dragon fruit vodka, POM Wonderful has featured a Lite POM Dragonfruit and even Emergen-C, the powdered packages of vitamins that you mix with water, introduced a dragon fruit flavor.
Dragon fruit in a Buick commercial? At first this made no sense to me, but when I started thinking about the flavor trends in the U.S. I realized that trend doesn’t only apply to the drinks business. Consumers with heightened palates want to discover brands, associate themselves with unique, authentic products and most of all engage in something different. Buick is clearly trying to put itself on the alluring level of the dragon fruit.
Dragon fruit is just one example of an exotic flavor making its way into everyday American life. Scanning the fruit stand at the farmer’s market or the produce aisle at your local supermarket, you are sure to see something that wasn’t available to you just five years ago. Take a close look during your next shopping trip and see what new flavors you can discover.