Starbucks just added a new ‘mango dragonfruit’ drink — and why the magenta-colored fruit is taking over menus
Dragon fruit is on fire.
Starbucks added its new “Mango Dragonfruit Refresher” iced beverage to its menu on Tuesday, a sweet and fruity sip made with actual chunks of freeze-dried dragon fruit — the latest use of the buzzy summer time staple.
The magenta drink is made from a natural green coffee flavor, so expect a tiny jolt of caffeine. It can be customized a number of ways, like adding coconut milk instead of water for a sweeter, creamier taste, or as a frappuccino. The “Refresher” sip contains 110 calories for a grande (16-ounce cup), and has no artificial colors or sweeteners.
The pretty pink fruit, also known as pitaya or the strawberry pear, is native to Mexico, Guatemala, Costa Rica, El Salvador and northern South America. Its exotic white pulp and black seeds — which make it instantly Instagram-worthy — is also cultivated in Southeast Asia, Florida, Australia and other tropical climates.
Dragon fruit also has a number of health benefits, too. The nutrient-dense fruit is packed with vitamin C, and is a good source of iron and fiber. It’s also packed with several types of antioxidants that boost the immune system, like flavonoids, a type of antioxidant that’s linked to better brain health and a reduced risk of heart disease. Other benefits include anti-aging properties, and improved digestion.
The sweet superfood makes a mean acai bowl and is commonly used in smoothies, for sorbet, or as a replacement for an espresso in your latte (watch out matcha).
Dragon fruit is just the latest craving health foodies have implemented into their snack game. Jackfruit, coconut and charcoal are also expected to be among the top-selling menu items of the year, according to data from restaurant management platform
Upserve’s State of the Restaurant Industry Report for 2018.
The report analyzed 29 menu items predicted to be hot, and charted their sales performance between 2015 and 2017, to help guide chefs on what to keep cooking up. The sales data was collected from 3,000 restaurants across the U.S. and revealed some interesting food extremes – clean eats and meaty marvels like brisket, tacos and charcuterie are both trending up.
“We have this rise of health food, vegetarianism and veganism taking a hold at restaurants, but then you have this opposite reaction of people embracing the meat-eating side,” Jesse Noyes, senior director of marketing at Upserve, tells Moneyish.
Jackfruit, the tree-born fruit that grows in Southeast Asia, Brazil and Africa, ranked as the top seller. The tropical fruit has been praised for its immense versatility. Since it has a relatively neutral flavor profile, it makes for the ideal vegan meat replacement because it also has a consistency that’s similar to chicken or pork so you can slice it up for salads and yogurts, or dice it up into a BBQ pulled jackfruit sandwich. Jackfruit saw a 131% growth in popularity since 2017, according to the report.
Cauliflower takes a close second with sales of the veggie continuing to sprout through 2017 and trending even higher in 2018. It’s another excellent alternative to meat, as chefs grill up cauliflower veggie steak.
Charcoal, the much hyped lump of coal you’re seeing in many beauty products, has also been darkening up cocktails with spirits such as rum and a little pineapple juice, or lighter combos like gin and fresh lemon juice. The activated ingredient is used to draw impurities out of the body. And coconut, found in everything from smoothies to cake and curry, has also seen immense growth.
“The charcoal one definitely took me by surprise. This isn’t something that’s in every bar or cocktail, it’s still a relatively small segment, but it’s clearly on the rise. It’s more of a reaction on the health food side and what you see on the morning talk shows making its way into the restaurants,” says Noyes.
Meanwhile, meatier items like brisket, charcuterie and tacos have been trending up in popularity, along with the culinary technique of fire roasting meats.
Other once hot items like sorghum, poke, turmeric and fermented foods don’t have as much staying power, according to the report.
“I don’t think this necessarily signals less of a desire for things like turmeric and kombucha, it just might be an example of type of food that’s popular for at home consumption, not at a restaurant,” says Noyes.
Here is a full list of foods that are hot and not so trendy anymore at restaurants:
Foods that have already peaked:
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