This week I almost took a day trip from Chicago to Los Angeles, just for the heck of it. (Depart 8:55am arrive 11:28am; depart 4:00pm arrive 10:08pm; roundtrip $97.80.) Sounds crazy, I know. The reality is that I truly miss the hustle and bustle of flying, everything from waking early for the uber to the airport to going through security to waiting at the gate hoping to hear my name for an upgrade. (I cancelled the trip because my COVID-19 antibody test was negative and I did not want to take the chance. I’ve been told I tested too soon after a positive diagnosis.)
I shared this story with others and many have expressed similar longings, not necessarily for flying but for something they really enjoyed—and took for granted—before the pandemic. And for many, it’s the experience they had with food and drink.
It was that Instagram first forkful moment. The “opa” that comes when the flame is fired on saganaki. The custom ordering of a hand-mixed ice cream, from the inclusions to the cone.
Consumer packaged goods marketers are now going to great lengths to provide experiential moments. Here’s my favorite so far. For Valentine’s Day, Kraft Mac & Cheese launched a limited-edition Candy Kraft Mac & Cheese. It is made with the same cheesy Kraft Mac & Cheese Americans know and love, but includes a candy flavor packet to turn the mac & cheese pink (from beetroot and carrot concentrates, so not to deter natural food aficionados) and add hints of sweet candy flavor (from fructose and natural flavors).
- Chocolate Caramel Cookie Dough: Chocolate ice cream with caramel swirls and gobs of chocolate chip cookie dough topped with caramel cups and chocolatey ganache.
- PB Over the Top: Chocolate ice cream with peanut butter swirls and peanut butter cups topped with mini peanut butter cups and chocolatey ganache.
- Salted Caramel Brownie: Vanilla ice cream with salted caramel swirls and fudge brownies topped with caramel cups and chocolatey ganache.
- Strawberry Topped Tart: Sweet cream ice cream with strawberry swirls and pie crust pieces topped with white chocolatey ganache and candy sprinkles.
- Thick Mint: Mint ice cream with chocolate cookie swirls and mint chocolate cookie balls topped with chocolate cookies and chocolatey ganache.
- Tiramisu: Mascarpone ice cream with fudge swirls and shortbread pieces topped with espresso fudge chunks and chocolatey ganache.
- Whiskey Biz: Brown butter bourbon ice cream with blonde brownies and whiskey caramel swirls topped with white chocolatey ganache and white fudge chunks. This flavor “is produced in partnership with Vermont spirit sensation WhistlePig Whiskey, proudly featuring their award-winning six-year whiskey, WhistlePig PiggyBack Rye, cooked into the caramel swirls.”