Is the War on Bread over? 5 Reasons Bread is Winning
Decoding the Momentum of Bread
The War on Bread has been a significant trend in the last few decades of our culinary life. Carbs were bad; gluten was intolerable. Ask anyone trying to lose weight what they were cutting out, and the top answer would be bread. The Keto diet and the Mediterranean diet all eliminated bread. Even my own book, Become a Fat Burning Machine, listed bread at the top of fat-storing foods. (I wrote that there was no functional value to bread). Until now, all diets began with padlocking the breadbox.
For the past several weeks, I have been analyzing food for one of our clients. Food trends have been on my mind, which got me looking into what is going on with bread — it was coming up everywhere in social media, in surveys and when we looked into it, we saw it was blowing up our MFactor.
We started to see that bread has real momentum
Our own MFactor data confirms: Since January 5th, bread’s momentum score rose from 65 to 83. In fact, Google searches for bread and bread-making are at an all-time high.
Through our decode, we’ve discovered that bread and especially bread-making is big not just because of scarcity (there was initially conversation about inventory issues) or health. The momentum goes much deeper into what it says about society.
So here are the 5 Reasons that Bread is winning…
Reason #1: Bread hits all 5 of the momentum drivers:
- DISRUPTION: The disruption is the role it plays in our lives. We wanted to avoid it for health reasons. Now the disruption is that it is coming back into our lives.
- INNOVATION: Is this the start of bread playing a new role in our lives? We have to reconsider bread beyond the calories to appreciate and to acknowledge the emotional impact that it has on us.
- POLARIZATION: The polarization is actually the depolarization. Not too long ago, we were in a war against bread, but in a crisis, all the old rules are off. Now there is discussion and debate around bread — where does it sit?
- STICKINESS: The bread-making moment is special enough in people’s lives that they are sharing it and posting it to their social media.
- SOCIAL IMPACT: Bread is becoming a topic / food / ritual that is uniting people in a time when we are separated. Bread provides an activity that everyone can come together to do.
Reason #2: Bread is an anxiety reducer
I asked my friend Dr. Oz for his perspective on why bread has momentum. He put it this way: “if Valium had a cousin that was a food, it would be bread.” It is a natural anxiety reducer. It calms us down and makes us more relaxed.
Reason #3: In times of uncertainty, we seek comfort and control
Bread and dough are determinant — the most basic and fundamental comfort in this hard and uncertain time. In times of instability, we seek something that is comfortable, something we can create and control. Knead it, rise it, bake it, eat it, share it.
Reason #4: With COVID-19, it is an activity we can all do and share
It is something that we can all unite around. People are eating bread, baking it, sharing recipes, and even posting about it on social media.
Reason #5: Everything goes better with bread (we all knew that one…)
Homebound and concerned about the future, families can briefly celebrate the moment a loaf of freshly baked bread comes out of the oven. It feels like a grand achievement at a time when we’re fighting emotional paralysis and psychic dread. The food tastes better, the conversation is more interesting, and the future seems more certain.
Just look at Twitter. It seems that these trying times require, well — bread!
- “People in LA are so desperate for food that they’re actually starting to eat bread” — Whitney Cummings
- “You gotta try baking your own bread in quarantine. It takes 14 hours to do right and it’s boring as shit”
- “I have done it. I’ve made bread (real bread, not biscuits or cornbread) for the first time in my life. I present three quarantineast rolls”
- “I’ll make banana bread for anyone that has romaine lettuce. The trade will be made 6 feet apart and we will place the goods on the floor. No funny business” — Chrissy Teigan
And during this Passover, I will be making unleavened bread at home while I am social distancing
It doesn’t escape me that I am writing these words as we prepare to celebrate Passover, which means eight days without (leavened) bread. I’ve never tried to bake my own matzo, but I guess that’s my challenge — to follow in the footsteps of my forefathers. I figure, if they could do it in the desert, how hard could it be for me to do it in Westchester?
What is MFactor?
The MFactor is our proprietary algorithm that quantifies Cultural Momentum. The MFactor is a single score that is based on the Newtonian definition of Mass times Velocity. The MFactor can be tracked over time to compare anything you google:
- People of interest (any political candidates/politicians, celebrities, artists, etc.)
- Political issues / movements / trends
- Brand/Product (e.g. across any industry or subcategory)
Our data has consistently been ahead of trends. Why?
We go beyond traditional methods (social media analytics, polling, etc.) by using data science algorithms to compute new metrics that reflect polarization and how “sticky” the issue is — how much people want to talk about and debate it and how emotionally invested they are in their position (velocity) — which is how things work in the real world.