Desserts have always marked the perfect end to a delicious meal, satisfying our sweet cravings with classics like cakes, pies, and ice cream. Yet, an exciting trend is rising – the emergence of drinkable desserts. Beyond traditional sweets, beverages are undergoing a delightful transformation, featuring creative concoctions that blur the lines between dessert and drink.
Traditional desserts can be a hard sell, requiring extra time, money, and calories. In response to the growing demand for fast, portable, and satisfying menu items, both large and small restaurant companies are introducing a variety of drinkable desserts. From milkshakes and dessert cocktails to coffee slushes, these creative and textured beverages are resonating with customers. Whether integrated into the dessert menu or serving as the dessert itself, these liquid delights offer a new and enjoyable avenue for those with a sweet tooth. Examples include Guard and Grace’s dessert cocktails, Twisted Root Burger’s monthly shake specials, and Taco Bell’s frozen coffee and shake experiments. As the popularity of drinkable desserts rises, the industry is witnessing a shift in consumer preferences, with flavors like caramel and vanilla leading the way.
Boba Tea Hits Mainstream
Boba tea—the drink you can eat too– is experiencing a surge in popularity in the United States. Major brands such as Dunkin-owned Baskin-Robbins, Peet’s Coffee, and Taiwan-based chain Gong Cha have incorporated boba tea into their menus. The global boba tea market, valued at $2.4 billion in 2019, is projected to reach $4.3 billion by the end of 2027. Jack in the Box recently joined the trend by introducing three boba tea drinks in select California locations. The drinks include Milk Tea with Boba, Iced Coffee with Boba, and Vanilla Shake with Boba, all featuring the classic “brown sugar boba” pearls. The move reflects a growing interest in diverse flavors by mainstream brands catering to evolving American palates. While some consumers welcomed the familiar drink from their cultural background, others criticized the perceived sweetness and “Westernized” versions. The boba tea market’s expansion, with smaller immigrant-run shops and large Asian chains, aligns with the broader growth of the global boba tea market at a CAGR rate of nearly 9%. (I’m not sure that readers will know what CAGR is – so perhaps change to “annual growth rate of nearly 9%”)
The fusion of creativity and indulgence in these beverages provides a refreshing twist to the traditional dessert experience, and we’re excited to see what restaurants will have popping up on their menus.