Nostalgia Sells. Can You Bring Something Back Too?

It’s Time To Leverage Nostalgia Again

The other day, we were driving through downtown Palo Alto, and I saw a really long line for someplace called CREAM, so I asked my wife what it was. Since she’s more hip to what the buzz is when it comes to restaurants, she told me they were “ice cream sandwiches.” I immediately thought of the old Nestlé Vanilla Ice Cream Sandwiches we used to eat when we were kids.

So I said, “Wow. Are people lining up like that for ice cream sandwiches? How can any business NOT survive around here if people are going nuts over mere ice cream sandwiches.”

Of course, I found out later that they were “gourmet” ice cream sandwiches, made to order with your choice of fresh-baked cookies and your choice of ice cream, and were only $2.50 to boot. Still, I thought: why the insanity over ice cream sandwiches and the same nuttiness over cronuts in other places?

HYPE, of course. There’s nothing special about these ice cream sandwiches; just read the Yelp reviews if you want more insight. No, if you think about it, it’s all about this new wave of nostalgic products breaking over the bough. In case you wondering, here are the keys:

  1. The product has been around for ages.
  2. The product is considered comfort food.
  3. The product is given a new modern/hipster/green/fresh/organic (pick one or more – more is better) twist.

The same can be said of The Melt, which is basically a place that serves the same kind of comfort food we all ate when we were kids – grilled cheese and tomato soup, with the number 3 treatment above.

I see a pattern here. What other comfort food can we dig up from the past, twist, and make a killing at?

  • Pillsbury Bake-off Foods
  • Tuna Noodle Casserole
  • Oven-Fried Chicken with cereal crumb topping
  • TV Dinners
  • Root Beer Floats
  • French Bread Pizza
  • Creamed Tuna On Toast, Beans on Toast, hell, anything savory on toast
  • Anything in a Crock-Pot (how about a whole restaurant with ONLY Crock Pot recipes)
  • Kool-Aid
  • Fondue Pots
  • Chicken Pot Pie
  • Tang
  • Shake & Bake
  • Shake-a-Pudding
  • Hamburger Helper
  • Meatballs in Grape Jelly
  • Pudding Pops
  • Cheezwiz
  • Mallow
  • McRib
  • Pizza Bagels
  • Hawaiian Pizza
  • Anything with sun-dried tomatoes!

And hey – if you do come up with something, let me in on the action…. 😉