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Pop business for the intelligent reader. A publication from Medium.

Gastronomic

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Gastro-nomics

With a Super Bowl ad, a massive Starbucks deal, and a public offering on the way, Oatly is suddenly everywhere. Just don’t call it milk.

Two cartons of Oatly milk and a cup of cappuccino floating above a pedestal with the letter “G” engraved.
Two cartons of Oatly milk and a cup of cappuccino floating above a pedestal with the letter “G” engraved.

Gastro-nomics is a column about the intersection of food, business, and culture.

My initiation to Oatly, the Swedish alternative-milk darling, came in the storybook way that chief marketing officers dream about. The barista at my precious south Brooklyn neighborhood coffee shop recommended it back in 2018 as a way to supercharge my coffee habit. Apparently, he wasn’t the only barista making the recommendation: Later that year, the Great Oatly Shortage arrived — a famine so dire it led coffee shop operators and oat milk fanatics to seriously consider ponying up $200 for 12-carton packs of the plant-based milk to strangers…


GASTRO-NOMICS

In just a few short years, the chain behind the Beefy 5-Layer Burrito has managed to become an obsession of vegans and vegetarians

A photo illustration with Taco Bell’s cheesy potato soft taco floating above a white column. The column has the letter “G” embossed and is surrounded by streaks of purple and yellow.
A photo illustration with Taco Bell’s cheesy potato soft taco floating above a white column. The column has the letter “G” embossed and is surrounded by streaks of purple and yellow.

Earlier this month, like Simba returning from exile, Taco Bell’s potatoes were officially restored to the company’s menu board — Spicy Potato Soft Taco and all. This wasn’t a small-fry development guided by a simple seasonal shift or some limited-time promotion; it was the result of a several-month fusillade by the brand’s starch and vegetarian loyalists, who had been furious at the company for removing potatoes last summer.

Ever since its controversial “menu simplification,” Taco Bell quite literally couldn’t post on social media without encountering some grief about bygone potatoes. …


Gastro-nomics

From the McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish to the new Popeyes Cajun Flounder, the battle of the fish has become a spring tradition

A photo illustration of a generic fish sandwich wearing a crown, placed on a pedestal.
A photo illustration of a generic fish sandwich wearing a crown, placed on a pedestal.

Gastro-nomics is a new column about the intersection of food, business, and culture.

Around this time each year, drugstores lay their pastel eggs, Peeps appear in bins for impulse buys, and enormous hams take center stage in deli cases across America. If Easter-themed products are a neon-colored commercial iceberg, there’s also a lesser-seen segment swimming below the surface. I’m talking about fish sandwiches.

Typically, in the late-winter weeks following the Super Bowl, restaurant chains around the United States begin to unveil their seasonal fish offerings. And this year was no exception, with new sandwiches from several big chains, including Popeyes…

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