Every year, the food industry, along with myriads of other business entities, hungrily await the grand announcement from the trend-setters at the Pantone Color Institute: The Pantone Color of the Year. Setting the tone for and influencing product development, packaging, design, and purchasing decisions for a wide range of merchandise, the color experts have declared that Classic Blue will be the Pantone Color of the Year for 2020.
Explaining the basis for the yearly pick in general, as well as the specific selection for 2020, is Laurie Pressman, Vice President at the Pantone Color Institute: “The Pantone Color of the Year highlights the relationship between trends in color and what is taking place in our global culture at a moment in time; a color that reflects what individuals feel they need that color can hope to answer.” And: “Pantone 19-4052 Classic Blue is a reassuring presence, instilling calm, confidence, and connection. While technology races ahead, often overwhelming our human ability to process everything around us, it’s only natural that we gravitate toward colors that bring a sense of peace, clarity, and even protection. Suggestive of the sky at dusk, the reassuring qualities of PANTONE 19-4052 Classic Blue highlights our desire for a dependable and stable foundation from which to build as we cross the threshold into a new era.”
Foodservice and the Pantone Color of the Year
What does all this mean for you as a restauranteur or caterer? It means that you can expect to see a plethora of blue hues, tones, and undertones appearing in wedding invitations, party decorations, indoor and outdoor decor, place cards, napkins, napkin holders, flowers, centerpieces, table skirts, tablecloths, party favors, and other catering knickknacks. Moreover, it means making room in your refrigerator for a plethora of blue and bluish-hued foods, drinks, appetizers, hors d’oeuvres, entrees, and desserts that are expected to make their appearance.
Blue Pantone Colors of the Past
It was exactly 20 years ago that the company ushered in the new millennium and also made its debut by painting the world Cerulean Blue. This was followed by other bluish Colors of the Year featured in selections such as 2008’s Blue Iris and 2010’s Turquoise. However, as Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute, is quick to explain: “There are many different blues in the Pantone system, but this particular shade really gave us that feeling of confidence and stability.” Furthermore, in contrast to 2019’s more showy Living Coral selection, Eisenman explains: “We are living in a time that requires trust and faith. It is this kind of constancy and confidence that is expressed by Classic Blue, a solid and dependable blue hue we can always rely on. Blue, from an emotional, psychological standpoint, has always represented a certain amount of calm and dependability. It’s a color that you can rely on.” At the same time: “Evocative of the vast and infinite evening sky, Classic Blue encourages us to look beyond the obvious to expand our thinking; challenging us to think more deeply, increase our perspective and open the flow of communication.”
Your 2020 Chef’s Challenge
In lieu of the above, the challenge for chefs in the New Year will be to not only feature familiar blue foods on their menu (including blueberry pie, jam, pancakes, and ice cream) but to conjure up their own unique blue food concoctions. To help stir your culinary creative juices as you don your chef’s hats and put on your chef’s aprons, the following is a look at some blue foods that you may already recognize, as well as some food and beverage selections you may not have heard of before.
List of Naturally Occurring Blue Foods
While there are many bluish-hued foods and beverages, there are fewer all-natural selections. Here is a list of blue foods straight from Mother Nature:
- Blueberries: Delicious, nutrient-packed, and known as “the King of Antioxidant Foods,” color your restaurant menu with blueberry waffles and French toast, blueberry buns, blueberry muffins, blueberry tarts, blueberry sauces, and more.
- Blue Corn: Originally developed by the Native American Hopi tribe, blue corn is a staple of Mexican and American Southwest cuisine. Boasting 20% more protein than regular corn, use it to make blue tortillas and blue corn chips.
- Blue Potatoes: These head-turning tots will attract plenty of consumer attention as you boil, bake, or mash them. They are also an impressive and fancy addition to any salad.
- Blue Carrots: Did you know that carrots prior to the 17th century were a dark blue-purple color? Featuring all the health benefits of orange carrots, such as being rich in beta-carotene and vitamin A, these blue veggies are also rich in anthocyanins which are said to enhance vision, improve memory, and provide a host of other health benefits. Dice ’em, slice ’em, roast them, serve with dips or salads, or offer it to your customers as a gourmet-looking side dish or snack.
- Concord Blue Grapes: An excellent source of vitamin C, these grapes have the added benefit of carrying blue produce benefits, such as being full of wellness-boosting anthocyanins. Serve them straight up or use to make grape juice, wine, or jam.
- Indigo Milk Cap: If you and your customers haven’t yet experienced this tasty edible mushroom, be sure to add Indigo Milk Cap to your dishes and recipes. It is available in North America; however, you can most easily find it in rural markets in China and Guatemala.
- Blue Marble Tree: Looking for a new blue fruit to usher in the New Year and add variety to your restaurant’s 2020 menu? Then set your sights on the blue marble tree grown in eastern Australia, the fruit of which is both edible and delicious.
- Starflowers: An annual herb also known as borage; starflowers’ edible leaves are typically used as a source of borage seed oil that is extracted from its seeds. Additional culinary uses of starflowers are as a dried herb, a fresh vegetable with a cucumber taste, and a garnish. Alternatively, the flower itself has a sweet honey taste often used in cocktails and to decorate desserts.
- American Lobster: If you want to wow your eatery’s customers with some little-known blue food trivia, check out the following fascinating morsel: An estimated one in every 2 million lobsters is actually blue in color!
Lingcod: Hungry for more blue fun food facts to add to your chef’s repertoire? Then check out lingcod – a fish which is not even related to the cod family. Featuring a bright turquoise flesh, its unique color disappointingly disappears once cooked. However, the good news is that lingcod can be baked, grilled, broiled, deep-fried, steamed, and enjoyed as the entree or main course of any meal.
Blue Food Health Benefits
Did you know that richly-hued red, purple. and blue foods are known to boost heart health, lower blood pressure, and help prevent obesity? This is due to their high anthocyanins content. These natural food colorants give rise to the likes of red and purple cabbage, plums, black currants, purple eggplant, colorful tropical fruits, and more. Furthermore, scientific studies have determined that anthocyanin-rich fruits and vegetables have anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, anti-diabetic, and anti-cancer effects, and are recommended by health practitioners as a way to help prevent cardiovascular diseases.
And don’t forget another benefit of blue foods – their Instagrammable feature – a natural benefit of such a rich color. So, craft it, bake, broil or roast it and post it for instant success.
The Anthocyanin-Pantone Connection
Remarkably, anthocyanin-containing edibles thematically reflect Pantone’s 2020 Classic Blue Color of the Year selection. Similar to Classic Blue, which is depicted by the company as a familiar, calming shade of azure said to symbolize “calm, confidence, and connection,” so too, blue foods are known for their strong relationship to self-care, wherein they serve as a strong foundation for wellness and as a protection against disease.
Pantone 2019 Color of the Year Still Thriving
There is even more good news from world’s most influential color system. Pantone’s 2019 16-1546 Living Coral selection, described as “animating and life-affirming,” makes a perfect culinary contrast and adjunct to 2020’s tranquil classic blue. Still very much in demand, as outlined in the Forbes magazine article, “Planning A 2019 Pantone Party Menu: Ways To Choose ‘Living Coral’ Foods,” favorite menu picks include bright citrus foods such as grapefruit, naturally red-exterior lobsters, a mysterious tropical fruit called rambutan which not only features the signature Pantone coral color on the outside, but which is a growing fruit trend eaten alone or as part of a smoothie bowl. Your chefs can also bring Living Coral to the dessert table with mouth-watering French coral-hued macaroons called “corail vivant,” or dabble with concocting their own Pantone-toned frosted donuts in an array of flavors.
Usher in the New Year with New Colorful Menus
Now that you have virtually wined, dined, and ‘tasted’ Pantone’s 2019 and 2020 colors of the year, put your new knowledge to the test by experimenting with colorful foods, hiring a food photographer to capture their alluring visual appeal and post in on social media. While you please your customers’ palates, you will also be adding new life to your 2020 menus and brand, ushering in the New Year with the perfect recipe for foodservice success.