Who loves Pepper Jack? According to USA Today, we (the people) love Pepper Jack and in a big way. The paper is talking up the spicy cheese like it’s the next avocado – a sandwich component that has been around since time immemorial, yet is increasingly being rediscovered and added to new editions of fast food menu items nationwide.
The article reports that instances of Pepper Jack in fast food menu items have increased by more than 37 percent over the past four years, with cheeseburgers in particular being 56 percent more likely to come swaddled in melted jalapeno goodness. But most of the growth has been within the last couple years as public interest has continued to soar:
Marketing gurus say that simply offering the cheese on restaurant menus can give a chain a competitive edge. "It's one of the fastest-growing cheeses we've ever seen," says Steve Evans, marketing vice president of Blimpie, which recently wrapped it into a turkey and chicken sub. And it's shown up in nearly 50 other new consumer products over the past two years, reports research firm Datamonitor.
USA Today names Carl’s Jr. as one of the most Pepper Jack-happy franchises of all, tripling its sales of the cheese within the past five years. The article comments on the chain’s most recent Six Dollar Burger, the Southwest Patty Melt, but the brand has been a seasoned Pepper Jack veteran since the release of its original Guacamole Bacon Burger. Blimpie is newer to the game but reports that sales of the cheese have doubled since the brand added it to its turkey and chicken wrap promo.
Of course, the big question is this: Pepper Jack has always been delicious, so why is our collective national consciousness just realizing it now? Unfortunately, the article doesn’t provide answers so much as speculation. Some put forth that increased cultural diversity over the years has sparked interest in the cheese’s “ethnic” Tex-Mex flavors. Others blame it on the Millennials:
The key: Millennials love the stuff. "They tend to be more adventurous with what they put on a sandwich," Evans says.
Sure, we’ll go with that. (As a Pepper Jack fan of the Millennial demographic, it’s hard to argue.) But whatever the reason, we just hope this Pepper Jack infatuation isn’t for a limited time only.