How Winter Weather Impacts Food Orders

It may be March, but many parts of the U.S. are still bracing for another few weeks of subfreezing temperatures. The GrubHub team was curious to learn how arctic conditions influence food orders.

GrubHub’s data experts wanted to know which menu items spike (and plummet) in popularity during the winter season. After analyzing pickup and delivery orders from GrubHub’s network of more than 30,000 restaurants between late December and mid-March, a handful of season-specific food trends emerged.

The Top 10 Menu Items that Get a Winter Boost

  1. Tom yum soup
  2. Vegetable soup
  3. Minestrone soup
  4. Chicken noodle soup
  5. Orange juice
  6. Italian beef sandwich
  7. Chocolate milk
  8. Lentil soup
  9. Chimichanga
  10. Reuben sandwich

Unsurprisingly, orders including menu items described as “frozen” or “cold” remain relatively flat throughout the coldest months. Instead, diners are craving warm, filling and immunity-boosting foods. Tom yum and vegetable soups are 23% more commonly found in winter orders than in any other season, and sandwiches like Italian beef and Reubens are nearly 20% more likely to be ordered during this period as well.

The Top 10 Menu Items that See a Winter Dip

  1. Pizza slice
  2. Mac and cheese
  3. Muffin
  4. Fried pickle
  5. Turkey sandwich
  6. Cajun fries
  7. Meatball
  8. Chicken taco
  9. Meat lovers’ pizza
  10. Spaghetti and meatballs

Restaurant customers are passing up some of their favorite comfort foods during the winter months. Pizza slices are 20% less likely to be ordered between December and March than in spring, summer and fall. Mac and cheese – often deemed the pinnacle of hibernation cuisine – is 15% less common in winter orders. Even certain spicy foods, such as Cajun fries, dip in popularity during the Polar Vortex.

The Top 10 Soups that Spike between December and March

  1. Tom yum
  2. Vegetable
  3. Minestrone
  4. Chicken noodle
  5. Chicken
  6. Lentil
  7. Chicken rice
  8. Tom kha
  9. Miso
  10. Wonton egg drop

For cold customers, soup is undoubtedly the winter winner. Soup orders increase 13% overall from December to March, compared to the rest of the year. Asian-inspired soups like tom yum, tom kha, miso and wonton egg drop dominate the top soup rankings, leaving familiar options like tomato soup, chowder and broccoli cheddar notably absent from the list.

Restaurants take note: there is still plenty of cold weather ahead of us. Understanding what diners crave most this time of year can help spark new winter menu ideas and support more accurate inventory planning.

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