Big Brands Spread ‘Newstalgia’ with Honey

Honeycomb Drip

Blending comfort and novelty has been an overarching theme in the food and beverage industry in the past several years. Newstalgia, a term coined to describe the blend of nostalgia with something new, taps into consumers’ desire for comfort, connection and authenticity in an ever-changing market. Product developers are leaning into newstalgia as a unique opportunity to reinvigorate beloved classics or introduce modern twists on timeless favorites.

In a world where brands are in tight competition for shelf space, honey is one ingredient that is satisfying both sides of the newstalgia coin: It’s a timeless, familiar, comforting, all-natural sweetener — yet brands are positioning honey as a new flavor combination or functional ingredient.

Even big brands have taken newstalgia with honey to the next level. Visual Objects, a portfolio website that showcases work from top creative firms around the world, found that 43% of consumers are loyal to at least one food and/or beverage brand, which is the highest customer loyalty mark of any industry. Newstalgia isn't just about resurrecting old favorites; it's also about reimagining them for the modern consumer. From crispy potato chips in flavors reminiscent of backyard barbecues to cereals that harken back to Saturday morning cartoons, these products offer a taste of the past with a fresh twist. They allow us to indulge in the familiar while embracing the excitement of something new — a winning combination in today's market.

Kevin Ryan, CEO of Malachite Strategy and Research, told Food Navigator USA that newstalgia also serves as release from purchase hesitation. “There’s this tension about, ‘Should I try something new? And I think what newstalgia does is it allows you to get some of that innovation that you want as a consumer but still get something safe.”

Hostess debuted HoneyBun Donettes, mixing the delicious, familiar honey, warm cinnamon and sweet vanilla glaze of the classic Honey Bun with 10.5-ounce bags or single-serve mini doughnut packs. Consumers looking for just a taste of their favorites have newstalgia to thank for the new twist.

Photo Credit: Hostess
Photo Credit: Ritz

Ritz launched Honey BBQ as a flavor, positioning it as a premium snack to eat while watching your favorite game. They’re a crunchy twist on the classic Ritz crackers consumers know and love.

Doritos also leaned into the sports theme, releasing Dinamita Hot Honey Mustard with a huge Super Bowl ad campaign. The premier sponsor’s product combines bold, tangy mustard with hot honey in a new sticks form, a departure from the classic triangle shape.

Photo Credit: Doritos
Photo Credit: Frito-Lay

Frito-Lay expanded its portfolio with Lay’s Sweet & Spicy Honey-Flavored chips. The new chips are the powerhouse snack company’s offering to the huge swicy trend.

Hidden Valley Ranch said hello to hot honey, a fun nostalgic departure from its traditional ranch dressing. Spicy Hot Honey Ranch has honey sweet, spicy heat mixed with the tangy zest of ranch flavor.

Photo Credit: Hidden Valley

Experimenting with newstalgia? We’d love to hear from you! Email [email protected] to let us know about your honey-sweetened innovations.