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March 2024 Food Trends: 27% Increase In Hot Dog Sales

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Tessa ZuluagaAuthor

March 2024 officially kicked off the busy season for most restaurants. How do we know this? From Feb.1 to Mar. 31, 2024, Toast analyzed month-over-month food sales to determine what food items are currently trending in the restaurant industry. We found some interesting insights when looking at March compared to February. This article breaks down March 2024 food trends for restaurants to use to assist in daily operations such as menu planning and inventory.

At a glance in March 2024:

  • Hot dog sales increased by 27%

  • Pizza sales increased by 24%

  • Nacho sales increased by 22%

  • Chicken tender sales increased by 21%

  • Breakfast food sales increased by 21%

  • Burger and fries sales both increased by 18%

  • Taco and quesadilla sales both increased by 18%

  • Cheese sales increased by 17%

Let’s break these insights down.

March Month-Over-Month Food Trends

Time moves fast, and you might be asking yourself, what happened in March? Don’t worry — we’ve got you covered. Here’s a general recap of dates and events that happened in March (in case you forgot).

  • Opening Day for Major League Baseball kicked off on Mar. 28th, 2024. On Opening Day, 28 baseball games were played around the country.

  • The Women’s March Madness College Basketball tournament kicked off on Mar. 20th, 2024, and continued through the rest of March until the championship game on Apr. 7th. Men also played in their tournament through Apr. 8th. 

  • This year, St. Paddy’s Day fell on Sunday, Mar. 17. Parades and festivities were held across the country to celebrate the green holiday. 

  • Spring break was in full swing as college students traveled around the globe supporting bars and clubs. As Miami tried to deter spring breakers away from South Beach, students spread across different cities, the most popular being  Las Vegas, New York City, and Orlando, according to Business Insider.  

Let’s take a look at how these dates impacted dining trends in March 2024.

Trend 1: Opening Day

Opening Day for the MLB took place on Mar. 28th, 2024. Hot dog sales increased by 27% in March, the biggest increase being the week of  March 24. Hot dogs and baseball have gone hand-in-hand for decades as one of the most iconic and beloved food pairings in American sports culture. Baseball stadiums sell millions of hot dogs each year to fans. However, the hot dog's role extends far beyond the ballpark into bars and restaurants across the country. For example, Toast customer Lincoln Tavern, located in South Boston, runs a “Weiner Wednesday” special every week for the entirety of baseball season.

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The annual return of America's pastime triggers this hot dog frenzy as fans get ready to embrace the summer ritual of cheering on their teams with this classic ballpark snack in hand. 

Trend 2: March Madness

This March, the world tuned in to watch Caitlin Clark, Paige Bueckers, and the rest of NCAA Women's Basketball take over ESPN. According to Forbes, the tournament set viewing records across all six rounds, including the NCAA championship game (South Carolina vs. Iowa), which averaged 18.7 million viewers on ABC and ESPN. With the audience peaking at 24 million viewers, it was the most-watched women’s basketball game of all time and the most-watched basketball game (men's or women's, college or pro) since 2019. How does this relate to restaurants? Fans showed up in force at bars and restaurants to support their local teams. 

Fans packed into restaurants like Micky’s Irish Pub in downtown Iowa City to watch the Iowa Hawkeyes. Staff said they were busy for every game this past season, with similar sizes to home football games. Micky’s Irish Pub, specifically, has a menu that specializes in breakfast foods, and overall breakfast sales increased by 21% on the Toast platform. They also ran bar specials such as $5.99 Burger Baskets on game day. Similarly, we see this in the data across the country as sports bar and pub menu favorites increased in sales. In March 2024, nacho sales increased by 22%, chicken tender sales increased by 21%, and burger and fries sales both increased by 18% on the Toast platform. 

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Trend 3: St. Paddy’s Day

Guests had another excuse to go out and enjoy bar and pub food on Mar. 17, as many bar crawls and parades took place across the country. According to estimates by the National Retail Foundation (NRF), overall spending for St. Patrick's Day in the United States was bound to cross the $ 7 billion mark for the first time. Data from the NRF survey also shows that 62% of respondents planned to celebrate the holiday in some way. Consumers went out to Irish pubs, they ate, they drank, and bar food sales increased. The Dead Rabbit in New York actually celebrated for nine days straight!

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Trend 4: Spring Break

Every March, bartenders and servers brace themselves for spring breakers, stocking up on spirits and limes like doomsday preppers hoarding canned goods. It's a beautiful thing, really – the youth providing the fuel for the service industry's annual profit binge. This year, Miami attempted to break up with spring breakers, but the party moved on to different cities, the most popular being  Las Vegas, New York City, and Orlando. 

If there’s one food that springbreakers are certain to purchase, it’s pizza. Cicis Pizza took advantage of this notion and announced $6.99 large pizzas for spring break. We also found that pizza sales increased 24% in March compared to February 2024. 

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What else is happening?

So that was March 2024 in a nutshell, but what else is happening in the industry? Check out these related resources below to stay up to date with the industry:

And we’ll see you next month for April month-over-month data!

Methodology

1Toast analyzed transactions on the Toast platform from February 1, 2024, to March 31, 2024, to determine the popularity of dishes labeled “salads, bowls, nachos, tacos, burgers, chicken tenders, roast chicken, fries, quesadillas, sandwiches, sushi, BBQ, burritos, desserts, enchiladas, pizza, cheese, omelette, pasta, wings, rice, steaks, dumplings, curry, ramen/noodles, soups/stews and vegan/vegetarian.” Toast then compared the average volume for the month of February 2024 to the average volume for March 2024. Results shown are the top ten movers for the categories listed. 

Benchmark Insights are not to be construed as recommendations or professional advice of any kind. Toast does not warrant the accuracy or completeness of any information, text, graphics, links, or other items contained in Benchmark Insights. Toast does not guarantee that you will achieve any specific results, and you should consult with your professional advisors for advice specific to your circumstances, including without limitation with respect to any purchasing decisions. Toast reserves the right at any time to add, delete or modify Benchmark Insights or any data contained therein.

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