Influences pop up from many different sources and take bakery and snack items in all kinds of directions. For instance, bright colors are resonating with many consumers these days.

“Colors are making a big impact in the way people are eating,” said John Stephanian, vice president, global culinary and innovation, ADM. “That could be influenced by social media. Just having some things that are very vibrant. There’s kind of a health and wellness connection to that, too. For a while, people said eat the rainbow and try to add all of these colors to your diet, and I’m definitely seeing a resurgence when it comes to colors specifically.”

He also said that over-the-top colorful baked goods and desserts such as macarons and mochi will be showing up. Charcuterie boards and new iterations of that like butter and dessert boards are full of bright hues. 

Claire Conaghan, associate director, content, Datassential, said the popularity of Filipino food is on the rise, and part of its appeal is its many vibrant colors.

“Many flavors from Filipino cuisine are closely related to more known flavors and also have highly social media-worthy color palettes: think green pandan, bright purple ube, the entire dish of halo-halo and bibingka.”

Mr. Stephanian also mentioned he’s seeing desserts inspired by cocktails with flavors used in interesting new ways in the baking and snack space.

“At a base level, we’re seeing classic flavor profiles, like that from margaritas, incorporated into simple sugar cookies,” he said. “Think tequila, lime, salt and cilantro. On the horizon are next level, sophisticated options, pulling in the bitter sweetness of negroni or Sazerac cocktails into crème brulée and profiteroles.”

Marcia Mogelonsky, director of insight, food and drink, Mintel, said she’s seeing intriguing new combinations involving texture.

“Textural experimentation is seen in snacks and bakery that use more than one texture for an exciting bite, such as mixing crunchy with creamy or brittle with soft textures,” she said.

Mr. Stephanian is also seeing different herbs and spices popping up in both snacks and bakery items.

“Recently, I just made a banana bread with miso,” he said. “Not a ton where it’s overly savory, but it had a little of that depth and complexity in the background that made it unique, kind of like a brown butter. I’m definitely seeing a lot of things in the savory space.”

He also mentioned that food trucks on the West Coast are experimenting with various cuisines and fusing them in new ways. 

“You kind of have this mishmash of different regions in Asia being influenced by regions of Mexico, so you’re getting these mashups that organically make sense, like poke tacos making their way onto these food trucks,” Mr. Stephanian said. “It’s being done very purposefully, and it’s not as clunky as some fusion food in the past. People are more in tune with cultures and trying to respect the cuisine in that sense. It’s a respectful fusion.”

This article is an excerpt from the December 2022 issue of Baking & Snack. To read the entire feature on Culinary Influences, click here.