Specialty Food Interest Peaks With Seasonal Nostalgia

It's the time of year when consumers seek out the familiar, remembering the holidays of the past, and make more of an effort to buy specialty foods that take them back to their youth.

"People are looking for 'authentic'," explains Marcia Mogelonsky, senior research analyst for Mintel. "They're going back to the source of the original taste."

Mogelonsky surveyed 284 specialty food operators and found that 40 percent of the products they sell are artisanal or handmade. Another interesting discovery was that 31 percent purchased ingredients within a 250-mile radius.

"People like that," she said. "They like to know that what they're buying came from nearby." One third of consumers surveyed for her specialty foods report say they buy specialty foods to take home for the holidays.

Independent food retailers such as Markowycz's European Home Style Sausage on Michigan Avenue in Detroit will sell between 15,000 and 20,000 pounds of sausage in the 10 days around Christmas, according to a story in the Detroit News. The company does not advertise, depending on word of mouth before the phrase was coined.

For more than 50 years, Markowycz's has smoked its lean Polish sausages in a natural wood smokehouse on the premises. At the holidays, customers fill the store, buying sausages, smoked hams, lunch meats, stuffed cabbage and pierogi.