The Allure of Unconventional Food Mashups

Mac ‘n cheese ice cream and baked bean smoothies? Yes, believe it or not, those food items have become realities in 2021. And those are just a couple of the unusual food mashups that are catching on among manufacturers and quickly becoming a way to lure new consumers.

Food mashups refer to common foods that are combined or remade in unconventional ways with other foods or unexpected ingredients (think: banana ketchup). These combinations are also sometimes referred to as “food makeovers,” or “food hybrids.”

So, what’s the hype all about? According to Fast Company (July 16), it’s part of a marketing trend that uses unexpected partnerships to gain consumers’ attention–and it’s working.

These marketing initiatives are intended to be limited-edition releases that have PR value and sell out quickly, similar to limited-edition releases that drive fan enthusiasm in the sneaker industry, Fast Company noted.


The Food Institute recently spoke to Jessica Coles, a grocery manager at Florida-based chain Earth Origins Market, about why this unique marketing trend is making waves.

“Customers like to see trendy foods like mashups, and if they like it, and notice that it’s limited-edition, they will come back for more,” Coles said.

She added that the most bizarre food combination she came across was almond butter mixed with hot sauce on chicken.

“It sounds weird, but it tastes amazing,” she noted.

Will the trend of food mashups have staying power? That remains to be seen, but Coles feels companies will continue to create mashups primarily because they’re always looking for new ways to catch customers’ eye.

Coles also feels the trend has caught on in part because, these days, consumers love to share unique topics on social media.


These unique food pairings can be found at all kinds of eating establishments these days. Food marketing is focused more on the consumer than ever before, as noted by McDonald Paper, and people are looking for something different — especially during the monotony of the lingering pandemic.