As 2012 draws to a close, Mintel recalls some of the noteworthy foodservice stories of the year. Here, in no particular order, are 10 of the stories that stuck with us:

  1. Magic Dorito Dust: Taco Bell made taco shells out of a favorite snack food, and high volume sales followed.
  2. Can Cantina Win?: Also in Taco Bell news, the more gourmet Cantina menu is getting buzz for taking on Chipotle’s “Food with Integrity.”
  3. De-sliming Actions: Many chains had to explain their stance on sourcing lean finely textured beef, or it’s more media-friendly nickname, “Pink Slime.”
  4. Chicken Littler: Fried chicken bites, biscuit rings and other small forms of chicken turned a well-loved food into a dashboard-friendly snack.
  5. Surprise from the Supremes: Justice Roberts cast the deciding vote to uphold President Obama’s healthcare reform package, which means chain menu calorie disclosures should follow sometime soon.
  6. Crowd-sourced Flavors: Frito Lay’s “Do Us A Flavor” contest solicited flavor ideas from the public, a bigger version of the many social media flavor contests that restaurants use for menu specials and new ideas.
  7. Domino’s Redefines Artisan: A mid-year campaign said “no” to customers changing the toppings on artisan pizzas.
  8. Fast Casualization of Everything: Fast casual is the “it” restaurant segment, prompting many brands to try new concepts (Red Robin, Famous Dave’s) in this mold, while older brands (Wendy’s) try to align with this style of dining.
  9. Just Say Chipotle: New brands are launching themselves as the “Chipotle” of pizza or salad concepts, putting more customers in the director’s role of creating their own meals.
  10. No Beef Relief: The outlook for already high beef prices was made worse by the summer drought; menu costs fallout will continue into the New Year.
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