The Takeout's Top 10 Food News Stories Of 2023

In a year full of shifting food trends, here's what readers cared about most.

This year was uniquely jam-packed with food news. If you need any evidence of that fact, consider that in January 2023 there were no Whole Foods locations in Montana, Starry soda hadn't even debuted yet, and we still retained some optimism about ChatGPT. It's been a long calendar year of developments in both the grocery and restaurant landscapes, and at The Takeout we've done our level best to cover it all.

Here are the The Takeout's top 10 most widely read and shared news stories of 2023, encapsulating all the food we ate, the coffee we drank, and the drama we couldn't look away from.

10. The shuttering of Anchor Brewing

It was a devastating loss to the beer community when Anchor Brewing, America's oldest craft brewery, announced its closure in July of this year. The press release announcing the closure cited "the impacts of the pandemic, inflation, especially in San Francisco, and a highly competitive market" as reasons for the shutdown, though there has also been speculation that friction with Anchor's parent company, Sapporo USA, contributed to the brewery's demise. Whatever the case, the craft beer movement owes a lot to this forebear, and that same movement is left to figure out what lessons can be learned from Anchor's closure. Read the full story here.

Advertisement

9. The true power of coffee, revealed

While it's true that drinking too much coffee can make us feel trapped, drinking just the right amount of coffee can have an excellent effect on the body and mind—and it's not just the caffeine lending us a boost. New research published this summer found that coffee not only increased the energy levels of those who drank it, but MRI scans revealed that the beverage increased activity in areas of the brain associated with focus, attention span, and memory-building. Read the full story here.

Advertisement

8. Golden Corral’s post-pandemic success

Readers of The Takeout must have missed their precious buffets during the pandemic, because audiences flocked to this story about the enduring success of Golden Corral. While COVID restrictions spelled doom for many buffet-style restaurants in 2020, Golden Corral made a few key changes to its business model that allowed it to stay afloat: cafeteria-style dine-in service, greater emphasis on takeout orders, and various spin-off restaurant concepts tailored to key demographics are just a few of the tactics that seem to be bearing fruit for the brand. Read the full story here.

Advertisement

7. Joey Chestnut suffers eating contest loss

If you don't know the name Joey "Jaws" Chestnut, then you must be intentionally tuning out the world of competitive eating. America's reigning champion won the Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest for the 16th time this year—but just a few weeks later, in September, Chestnut lost to an Australian competitor James Webb in a wing-eating contest at the National Buffalo Wing Festival in New York state. It was a stunning upset, one in which the winner ate 36 more wings than Jaws for a total number of wings you frankly won't believe. Read the full story here.

Advertisement

6. Gen Z squeezes concert venues

It's not often that food and drink news intersects with the world of rock and roll, but in June, we reported on Billboard magazine's findings that concert venues are hurting from shrinking bar tabs—particularly at shows aimed at Gen Z audiences. With the rising number of young people abstaining from alcohol, venues must pivot to other offerings to entice concert-goers, from mocktails to CBD beverages, and hope that customers show a willingness to empty their pockets. Read the full story here.

Advertisement

5. Online grocery shopping sees generational split

Readers apparently can't get enough of any news story detailing the differences between millennial and Gen Z habits. In this story from September, we reported on new survey data that suggests a split in how each generation shops for groceries. While the younger set might stereotypically be on their phones all day, it's the older millennials who have continued to embrace online grocery shopping (for either curbside pickup or delivery) because of its convenience and the potential for bargain-hunting. Read the full story here.

Advertisement

4. Applebee’s luring in unlikely customers

Gen Z can't get enough Applebee's—how's that for a generational divide? John Peyton, CEO of Applebee's parent company Dine Brands, told Nation's Restaurant News this past spring that the restaurant has been steadily winning over 18-24-year-olds by becoming "increasingly sophisticated on social media channels." Add to that the appeal of the Applebee's menu's everyday value, and it's no surprise the restaurant is being embraced by young people and immortalized by country star Walker Hayes. Read the full story here.

Advertisement

3. Subway gets rid of pre-sliced sandwich meat

It came as something of a shock to the general public at the beginning of the year when Subway CEO John Chidsey told CNN that America's biggest sandwich chain would be switching from pre-sliced cold cuts to deli meat prepared to order using on-site meat slicers. Although it costs a lot upfront to install slicers in each of the chain's 20,000+ U.S. locations, it will amount to money saved in the long run, since supplying pre-sliced meat to all those restaurants is ultimately more expensive. Read the full story here, and read our review of the new sandwiches here.

Advertisement

2. ALDI accidentally sells X-rated marshmallows

It doesn't get any better than an inadvertent phallus, does it? As we've seen with multiple unicorn cakes, sometimes desserts don't turn out the way we expect them to, and never was that more obvious than when an eagle-eyed customer noticed ALDI's Easter marshmallows were shaped more like dicks than chicks. ALDI had a great sense of humor about the whole thing, though, and the social media team got to have a bit of fun responding to the hubbub. Read the full story here.

Advertisement

1. Costco’s free samples get a makeover

Given that Costco's legions of fans border on a cult following, it shouldn't be too surprising that our most read food news story of the year had to do with the institution of Costco's free samples. Known for decades as a great place to snack while you shop, Costco quietly began tinkering with its samples this year, swapping out the employee-staffed kiosks with self-serve caddies and individually wrapped packaged snacks at certain locations. Let's hope the brand doesn't mess with success by supplanting all its hot little bites of pizza and brie en croute with miniature granola bars and single-serve pretzel bags. Read the full story here.

Advertisement

Recommended

Advertisement