National Peanut Month: Menu Trends, Servingware Ideas and Handling Allergies
National Peanut Month
When it comes to peanuts, restaurants have become more brave when it comes to creatively incorporating them in their menus. They can now be found on everything from hamburgers to desserts and the peanut has really become an interesting ingredient to a menu.
March is National Peanut Month, which is an opportunity for peanut fans all over to celebrate their love for it. Not only is it a beloved menu item, peanuts play an important role in the United States as it brings in money. Below are some fun facts about peanuts from the National Peanut Board:
- To make a 12 ounce jar of peanut butter, it takes 540 peanuts
- Peanuts account for two-thirds of all snack nuts consumed in America
- $4 billion is contributed to the United States economy each year from peanuts
- Annually Americans consume an average of 1.5+ billion pounds of peanut butter and products
Menu Trends: Peanut Butter Can Go On Anything
Restaurants are becoming more adventurous, especially when it comes to peanut butter. Some chefs like to put a unique twist on a classic favorite, such as peanut butter and jelly, while others just want to try peanut butter with anything to see what customers end up loving.
One of the really popular peanut butter trends in restaurants is to put it on a burger. Scotty’s Brewhouse, regional chain in Indiana, serves the award-winning burger, the “Shewman Special.” This burger has a unique combination of flavors consisting of peanut butter, jalapenos, cheddar cheese and bacon. Customers are apprehensive about the burger at first, but once they try it, they are hooked.
The Shelter Lounge in Seattle, Wash. used peanut butter to create a unique twist on the jalapeno popper with their PB&J Jalapeno Poppers. The appetizer has a panko breading and is stuffed with cream cheese and peanut butter. To add the final touch, it is served with a sweet, spicy jelly.
Pizza is another menu item, similar to burgers, that might be hard to wrap your head around at first when it comes to using peanut butter. However John’s Incredible Pizza Co., a chain of restaurants in California and Oregon, has seemed to blow customers away with their Spicy Peanut Butter Pizza.
Perhaps one of the most dedicated restaurants to peanut butter is New York’s Peanut Butter & Co. This restaurant has it all when it comes to peanut butter from the Cinnamon Raisin Swirl™ sandwich (mix of cinnamon raisin peanut butter and vanilla cream cheese stuffed with crisp apple slices) to the PB&J Pretzel Sunday™ (crunchy pretzel pieces on vanilla ice cream, topped with peanut butter and a raspberry sauce). While they have other menu items as well, peanut butter-based items are a majority of what they serve.
When mixing a menu up to include a unique item, such as a twist with peanut butter, restaurants should think about the presentation of the item. The size of a plate, platter, bowl, etc., or the presentation can assist with cost savings and can give an overall impression of the restaurant as a whole.
For a classic and sleek presentation for appetizers, Oneida’s Swoop Specialty Porcelain plates and platters will wow diners. They have a contemporary design and are bright white which allows the menu item to stand out.
Pair Swoop Specialty plates and platters with American Metalcraft’s square sauce cups or Squavy™ porcelain bowls for a unique shape. Melamine options are available too with the white sleek look with American Metalcraft’s square melamine serving bowls and platters, and their flared melamine bowls.
In terms of dinnerware, there are many sleek, classic lines such as World Tableware’s Cafe Royal and Slate or Oneida’s Arcadia and Espree. For dinnerware with more of a personality or color, Homer Laughlin’s Fiesta® dinnerware is always a very popular line, but there is also World Tableware’s Montego Bay or Syracuse China’s Cantina dinnerware that provide durability and lots of color.
For a unique feel, World Tableware recently introduced their Farmhouse line of dinnerware which is organically shaped and crafted.
According to Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE), up to 15 million Americans suffer from food allergies. The number of children with a peanut allergy has tripled from 1997 to 1998 and peanuts are one of the eight foods that account for 90 percent of allergic reactions. Even one small trace can cause a reaction which is important for restaurants to be aware of.
One of the most important things restaurants can do when it comes to food allergies is to have procedures put in place for food allergies and train all employees. Restaurants should implement a color-coded system to avoid cross-contamination so certain foods do not come in contact with others.
Cutting boards, cutlery and cut-resistant gloves are some of the many things that can be implemented in a color-coded system. For restaurants that want to delve in even further to keep diners safe, San Jamar has their Allergen Saf-T-Zone system which is a kit to use specifically for those with allergies.
It’s also important to talk with diners to ensure your kitchen can meet their needs. If not, it is okay to say no as their life might be on the line if you cannot guarantee even a trace of peanuts will not be in their meal. In the procedures, ensure there is full communication with all staff members in the front and back of the house. Last, never be offended when a customer might ask to speak with the manager or have a dish sent back.