When TikTok says ‘jump,’ restaurants fling themselves right off a cliff

Social trends like TikTok’s “girl dinner” are changing the way the restaurant business works.

food from Popeyes

Admittedly, I’m all too familiar with “girl dinners.” Sometimes (often) after a long day, the last thing you want to do is cook an elaborate meal — and that’s where girl dinners come in.

The term took off on TikTok this summer after creator Olivia Maher used it in a video. The New York Times describes it as a meal “akin to an aesthetically pleasing Lunchable: an artfully arranged pile of snacks that, when consumed in high enough volume, constitutes a meal.”

The trend, which has racked up 1.4B+ views, is already old news on social media, but its impact continues to reverberate in the restaurant business.

Enter Popeyes…

The fast-food chain was quick to hop on board, launching a limited-edition “Girl Dinner” menu in July.

  • The menu combined all of the chain’s side dishes, like coleslaw, biscuits, and mashed potatoes, into a makeshift meal.

Opportunities like this are a marketer’s field day — and major brands with resources to quickly implement viral trends can take advantage.

Case in point…

  • Earlier this year, Chipotle added fajita quesadillas to its official menu after the TikTok hack blew up.
  • McDonald’s boosted sales last year by adding social-favorite menu hacks to its menu.
  • Upscale LA grocery chain Erewhon has partnered with celebrities to launch custom ($17+) smoothies.

Come November, Popeyes’ quarterly sales figures will reveal how its “Girl Dinner” stunt performed, but if history is an indicator, expect to be wowed: social media stunts have been core to the chain’s success.

Popeyes was famously behind the 2019 “tweet [that] changed the restaurant industry,” per Restaurant Business, igniting a chicken sandwich war — and its sales.

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