The trending treats for Fourth of July: From swicy to the pretzel bun

By Gill Hyslop

- Last updated on GMT

Pic: GettyImages/Lauri Patterson/Loud Red Creative
Pic: GettyImages/Lauri Patterson/Loud Red Creative

Related tags Fourth of July trendspotting burgers swicy Heat

Inflation has been running hot and while some relief is evident, consumers are exhausted by high food prices. That’s not to say that Americans are eating fewer burgers (they consume more than 50 billion every year), but forced to trade down to save pennies, they’re opting for differentiated, premium baked goods at home.

Independence Day is big business in the US, with Americans of all ages, races, creeds and cultures getting together in a spirit of unity and patriotism to reflect on their freedom.

July 4th​ is a is a federal holiday in the US t commemorate the Declaration of Independence, which was ratified on July 4, 1776.

The Continental Congress declared the 13 American colonies were no longer subject to the monarch of Britain, King George III, and were now united, free and independent states. Founding fathers included Thomas Jefferson, who drafted the Declaration, along with John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman and Robert R. Livingston.

It’s a day of celebration, with parades, firework displays, bunting and get-togethers an essential and ubiquitous tradition. The go-to foods that hit the tables include chips and dips, burgers, hot dogs, corn on the cob and foods decorated in red, white and blue (such as a dessert pizza topped with strawberries, bananas and blueberries).

However, this year, budget will play a big role. According to the 2024 Rabobank BBQ Index, the cost of staple ingredients (for one cheeseburger with lettuce and tomato, one chicken sandwich with lettuce, tomato and a slice of cheese, two handfuls of chips, two beers, a soda and a few scoops of ice cream) for a 10-person BBQ will cost $99, compared to $97 last year and $73 in 2018.

But that doesn’t mean the average American will ditch the tradition – it just means they have become more discerning with their choice.

Having to forgo eating out to save the pennies, Rabobank contends the American consumer is actually trading up: buying fewer, but more premium products, so the pretzel bun – which combines the characteristics of a traditional soft pretzel with the form and functionality of a sandwich bun – is expected to grace the table at this year’s Fourth of July barbecue.

According to Rabobank, 68% of consumers polled by Vericast say they are switching from restaurants (where the tab is up 4.4% annually) to grocery stores (up by only 1.1%). Surprisingly though, Americans spent more than 11% of their disposable income on food – whether at home or at a restaurant – in 2022, marking a 30-year high.

“The consumer is waving the white flag on food inflation,” said Tom Bailey, senior consumer foods analyst for Rabobank.

“With an added 2% in price hikes in 2024 coupled with the cost disparity between dining out and cooking at home at its widest margin in history, we’re seeing heightened fatigue and frugality.”

Kings Hawaiian

Several brands have come to the party to put pretzel-bun burgers on the menu this year, including King’s Hawaiian, Pretzilla, Snyder’s of Hanover, Costco (under its house brand: Kirland Signature) Walmart (Marketside brand) Trader Joe’s and Aldi (Specially Selection brand). These brands offer a variety of pretzel buns, from classic hamburger buns to slider-sized options, making them suitable for various culinary uses.

The bold bite  

2024 is also the year of swicy snacking, with spicy snacks dominating the aisles and even popping up in sweet treats. The younger generations want heat, with more than 60% demanding a bolder adventure, influenced also by the increased uptake of global cuisines that often blend sweet and spicy elements, such as Asian and Latin American dishes.

Brands are happy to accommodate the burn.

PepsiCo Flamin' Hot

Grupo Bimbo’s iconic rolled tortilla chips, Takis, lead the pack with their fiery Fuego flavor, while PepsiCo has gone all out with 25 SKUs under its Flamin’s Hot brand. In fact, according to the Hartman Group, consumers made nearly 400 million trips to buy Flamin’s hot products last year, up 31% from 2022, further signaling the power behind hot and spicy flavor trend.


Lay’s has jumped onto the ’swicy’ bandwagon and disruptors like Zack’s Mighty are making waves with regenerative, non-GMO rolled tortilla chips in flavors like Chile Lime and Fiery Nacho.

Nemi Snacks produces skinny crunchy sticks made from ground nopales (prickly pear cactus pads) with added protein and gut-friendly prebiotic fiber.


They punch in with Pickled Jalapeño, Mexican Lime, Smoky Chipotle and Chile Turmeric flavors.


Yolélé fonio chips represent a new format for this ancient grain. Grown for almost 5,000 years, the West African supergrain is sustainably grown and climate-smart. Like its origins, the snacks feature West African flavors include Yassa! Chili with Onion and Lime and Tangy Baobab with Moringa and Onion.


Utz has teamed up with Mike’s Hot Honey for Utz Mike’s Hot Honey EXTRA HOT potato chips (with three times the heat). The eye-popping swicy chips are gluten-free and kosher-certified and come in a convenient on-the-go pack and take-it-home share size.

“We know hot and spicy is currently the No. 1 flavor in salty snacks. That’s why we wanted to offer fans an even hotter snacking option,” said Utz’ marketing director Amber McGrogan.

Building on the swicy trend, Utz also released Utz Mixed Mini Pretzels in Mike’s Hot Honey flavor in March.


Earlier this year, Ritz added two spiced up variants to its range of oven-baked Toasted Chips. Sweet Habanero and Honey BBQ are packed with a flavorful crunch and are a ramped up twist on classic BBQ.

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