Why retro desserts are the on-trend pudding for summer 2023

06 July 2023, 08:00 AM
  • Retro bakes and classic puddings are set to be in demand this season as consumers seek out ‘edible joy’
Why retro desserts are the on-trend pudding for summer 2023

Everything old is new again, so the saying goes. That’s certainly true for retro desserts and puddings, which are tipped to be a customer favourite this year. Iconic dishes from yesteryear, like baked Alaska and crème brûlée, are back on the menu for consumers seeking a distraction from doom and gloom, according to a new trend report.

Asda’s 2023/24 Trend Book identified ‘Retro Sweet’ as a top craze, as popular television shows like Daisy Jones & the Six and Stranger Things, which are set in the 70s and 80s, stir up demand for forgotten favourites. 

The top retro desserts in the UK, according to Asda

• Baked Alaska
• Crème brûlée
• Rice pudding
• Tiramisu
• Bread and butter pudding

With consumers seeking out moments of nostalgia and joy, even school cakes are having a moment in the spotlight. Asda reported more than 5,000 people searched for ‘school cakes’ on its website as consumers enjoy throwbacks to their childhood.

Asda isn’t the only retailer noting this trend, however. Online retailer Ocado reported in March that sales of Arctic rolls jumped 143%, while sales of Viennetta were up by 55% and Viennetta Mint sales more than doubled at 124%. At the time, Ocado linked the sales to growing demand for frozen desserts, with buying manager for frozen food at Ocado Retail, Helen Munro, adding that they give a welcome taste of joy in a difficult time: “Desserts are one of life’s little luxuries that allow us to enjoy a sweet treat.”

Everett Fieldgate, CEO at independent dessert parlour Creams Cafe, told Speciality Food that customer response to its new retro-inspired menu this summer has been “super encouraging and exciting”. Everett continued, “We’ve seen retro puddings and desserts become a key trend this year due to an amalgamation of seeking comfort in difficult times as a result of the cost-of-living crisis, along with consumers yearning for simpler, sweeter times.” 

How to sell the retro dessert trend

The key to cashing in on retro puddings this summer, according to Everett, is to offer products that remind people of family summer holidays and fun they have had over the years to “transport people back to the good old days”. This could be by recreating a beloved flavour, like Joe & Seph’s Eton Mess Popcorn, or an iconic classic, like Crosta & Mollica’s mascarpone and marsala wine tiramisu.

Opportunity also lies in modernising beloved recipes with a twist that the consumers of 2023 can’t resist. For example, a tropical-flavoured riff on a baked Alaska or a rice pudding made with updated grains or posh preserves would hit the mark. 

The trend-spotters at Asda hinted at the success of products like crème brûlée ice cream or make-your-own banana split kits. When warm weather hits, ice cream has proven to be a winner. During the early June heatwave, the UK saw sales of ice cream rise by 47%, according to data from NIQ, formerly NielsenIQ. 

While summer sizzles on, in the world of retail Christmas is right around the corner, so it’s important to begin thinking how you can make the most of the retro pudding trend with traditional seasonal favourites, too. Think gift sets of ingredients to make your own retro pudding or Christmas flavour twists on classic desserts, like Spiced Cranberry Crème Brûlée.

Despite modern advances, fine food retailers’ heritage leanings are often linked with nostalgia for customers, making them perfectly positioned to capitalise on the retro food trend. Whether you are bringing retro flavours back via your cooking products, your confectionery stock, your frozen aisle or even your café menu, this trend is well worth a closer look.

Searching for more ideas? Delve into the recipes below, inspired by the UK’s favourite traditional desserts.

Retro dessert recipes

What desserts were popular in the 80s?

• Tiramisu – Super Thick Yogurt Tiramisu
• Lemon meringue tart – Lemon & Lime Meringue Tartlets
• Bread and butter pudding – Diana Henry’s Sour Cherry, Rose & Cardamom Brioche Pudding

What desserts were popular in the 70s?

• Profiteroles – Caramel & Double Chocolate Profiterole Tower
• Sticky toffee pudding – Easy Sticky Toffee Pudding
• Chocolate fondue – Chocolate Fondue

More retro desserts

Knickerbocker Glory
Perfect Jam Tarts
Tiered Strawberry Jelly & Custard
Blackcurrant & Elderflower Swiss Roll

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