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The 2023 Recap For Restaurants

Bonji Hot Takes: Volume 87

Welcome to another edition of Bonji's Hot Takes, where we serve up fresh and unconventional culinary ideas that are guaranteed to tickle your taste buds. We hope your week has been filled with success and happiness. The weekend is already near but we hope to offer some value before this week closes and you are enjoying the time off.


As the year comes to a close, we are joining the ranks of many companies who offer a look back at the year that is slowly fading into the past. 2023 held many exciting news stories, trends, and changes for the restaurant/food industry. Today, we are diving into some of the key statistics we managed to dig up!

Pineapple belongs on pizza says Bonji Foods


2023's Food Industry Wrap Up

GrubHub recently deemed 2023 the year of "doing it for the vibes," or in other words, self-expression. They found that diners were customizing like crazy, and usually in uncommon fashions. Thus, we begin with:

1. The Spice Craze

Not only was Sriracha added to orders nearly 100,000 times, but over 53 million orders included the addition of extra spice. One major spice addition was jalapeño cream sauce, soaring to the ranks of a typically chipotle sauce. Some of the top spicy dishes (or dishes with added spice) that were ordered more than anything else included tacos, chicken sandwiches, sushi, soup, and noodles. This is something that I personally have seen over the past year or so, people are starting to like the extra kick. Maybe everyone is getting a little adventurous with their food, or maybe restaurants have stepped up their sauce game (something we have discussed in the past). Whatever it is, 2023 was home to a major uptick in spicy foods!

2. Coffee All Day (Night?) Long:

Something that I found extremely interesting is that coffee lovers amped it up to whole other level in the past year. Being surrounded by coffee fanatics, the caffeine craze simply makes sense to me. However, in 2023 not only did coffee sales rise, but coffee at nighttime soared. On GrubHub alone, there were over 10 million coffee orders placed after 5:00 pm. All sorts of coffees were ordered, with no one flavor or style standing out the most. In addition, we all thought that milk alternatives were taking over. Although the options for almond, oat, and pea milk are available, it blew me away to learn that cow's milk rose 20% as an option on coffee orders! Even chocolate milk made it's own splash in coffee shops - this I'm curious about.

3. The Drink and Side Dish of Choice:

I had my own prediction coming into this as to what drink won the "workplace" crowd over this year, and let it be known, I was right. Diet Coke absolutely crushed for restaurants, as in-office orders alone saw the soda rise by 17%. I noticed that all my New York friends hopped on this trend a while back, and I believe that this stems even beyond the office. There aren't a ton of facts pointing to why this happened, but one statistics shows that #dietcokebreak trended throughout the year with over 43 million view on TikTok alone.

Now as for the side dish of 2023... french fries took the victory. I think this may be a pretty obvious outcome, however there was something extremely interesting happening this year. GrubHub reported that over half a million people ordered a salad - paired with french fries. Yes, you read that right. Salads are being paired with french fries on tremendous levels. I assume this stems from a balance of healthy and not so healthy, but regardless, it is something to think about for restaurants heading into the new year.

4. Pickles... Pickles Everywhere:

I have always been a pickle lover. To me, it seems that the majority of pickle fans start out absolutely HATING them, but over time, grow a fondness for the vinegar soaked cucumber. Now, this past year saw pickles skyrocket by 89%, with over 6.9 million orders for pickles on GrubHub - the largest growth of any single item. Although food orders and pickles makes sense, we also saw pickles appear on clothing at absurd levels. Maybe this is just the latest trend, but sweatshirts and other pickle inspired clothing went viral in 2023.

5. Pineapple Officially a Pizza Topping?:

Although extremely controversial, pineapple appears to have earned its spot as a pizza topping this year. This topic has been debated for many years, but 2023 saw this fruit jump by 33%! Putting the embarrassment of suggesting pineapple on pizza aside, the sweet topping came in at #5 among all pizza selections ("Hawaiian Pizza"). The full top five also includes: cheese, margherita, pepperoni, and buffalo chicken. Call me crazy, but a Hawaiian Pizza will not be in my top five anytime soon - even though I do love pineapple and pizza on their own.

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