NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- A double-dip economic downturn would just be au jus to America's resilient, reinvented, recession-proof sandwich.
Marketing company Packaged Facts set the Center for Culinary Development loose on the sandwich industry and found heaping portions of positivity layered between equal measures of tradition and emerging trends. Despite slumping sales in other sectors, NPD Group found that 12 billion sandwiches were served by American eateries last year -- more than 1 billion more than in 2005. Technomic, meanwhile, found that 81% of U.S. consumers bought a sandwich away from home at least once in the past two months, with 93% of them eating at least one sandwich a week.
That says nothing about the quality of those sandwiches, however, as only 52% were satisfied with the offerings at sub shops and delis and only 44% savored the sandwiches picked up at restaurants. Those numbers among 18-to-20-year-olds are even lower, at 44% and 40% respectively, taking a bite out of business at big sub chains such as Subway and Quiznos. So what's filling the gap? Packaged Facts found seven sandwich trends that are slicing up the modern sandwich marketplace:
"FINE FAST" SANDWICH SHOP When everyone's a "foodie," sandwich shops need to follow suit. Perhaps the best example of this trend, which incorporates top chefs and top-notch ingredients into tiny spaces, is New York's Momofuku chain, opened by chef David Chang. At the Momofuku Ssam bar, for example, blackened bluefish sandwiches and steamed pork buns are complemented by the restaurant's namesake Ssam, described to great effect by New York magazine as an "Asian burrito." Former Iron Chef Mario Batali adds his own flavor to the "fine fast" concept at his Los Angeles-based Mozza2Go, where the take-out menu includes Panini with straccino and rucola as well as olive oil-braised tuna and egg.