How Social Media Trends Shape Restaurant Menus

Admittedly, I’m all too familiar with girl dinners. Sometimes (often) after a long day at work during a hot summer, the last thing you want to do is cook an elaborate meal — and that’s where girl dinners come in.

Is it a charcuterie board? A snack plate? A random assortment of whatever can be found in the kitchen to make a haphazard meal? The answer is yes to all of the above.

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The term girl dinner took off on TikTok earlier this summer after creator Olivia Maher used the term in a video. Since then, girl dinner has since racked up over 1.3B views for its relatability.

Fast food chain Popeye’s was quick to jump on the trend. In July, at the height of girl dinner’s popularity on TikTok, Popeye’s launched a limited-edition “Girl Dinner” menu.

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The “Girl Dinner” menu itself was definitely tongue in cheek, as it featured all of the fast food chain’s side dishes like coleslaw, biscuits, and mashed potatoes and gravy that could be ordered separately to create a makeshift meal.

Social media users were amused by the offering:

Social Media’s Influence on Food Menus

This certainly wasn’t the first time social media influenced a food chain.

Popeyes is no stranger to social media moments. In 2019, the company’s newly released chicken sandwich went viral, igniting a chicken sandwich war with rival Chick-Fil-A all stemming from a tweet.

Earlier this year, TikTok creators Alexis Frost and Keith Lee shared a hack for ordering fajita quesadillas at Chipotle, which were previously a custom creation. After their videos went viral, Chipotle added fajita quesadillas to the official menu to accommodate the influx of orders.

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Similarly, upscale LA grocery chain Erewhon has teamed up with popular creators to launch custom smoothie recipes that have repeatedly gone viral on social media.

In some ways, social media has assisted major brands that have the resources to implement viral trends with research and development support. Down the line, this could create some hairy scenarios if IP ownership ever comes into question.

In the meantime, I’ll let the legal experts worry about that while I finish my girl dinner.

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