Do you remember the infamous (yet classic) “Soup Nazi” from television’s Seinfeld? The fictional soup entrepreneur’s popularity stemmed from his rude treatment of customers. Reportedly based on a real-life small business owner, the Soup Nazi actually inspired several other real-life business owners to open soup restaurants.
Fast forward a few years and soup is making a comeback—as a health and diet aid. According to The New York Times, growing numbers of Americans are going on soup cleanses, also known as “souping.” This means they’re eating nothing but soup, several times a day, some for days at a time. Apparently soup cleanses are the new juice cleanses, which The Times says many people found too extreme.
Many of those souping aren’t making the soup themselves–hence the opportunity, which is growing nationwide. Some restaurants provide their soups in single-day cleanse portions, while others, says The Times, offer soups as meal replacements for as many as five days.
The Times notes sales at Brooklyn-based The Splendid Spoon have tripled annually since 2013. The company sells vegan, gluten-free soups, and ships across the U.S. And it says this is not just a New York City phenomenon. Soupure launched in Los Angeles in 2014 and expanded from only delivering locally to shipping all over the country. Another company, Philadelphia-based Read Food Works, started life as a meal delivery service and then added a soup cleanse option in 2013.
If this interests you, whether as a new business or an add-on to your current restaurant, The Times reports the “soups that make up these cleanses tend to be quite flavorful, thanks in part to a liberal use of spices like turmeric and cumin. They are often made with seasonally grown ingredients, packaged without preservatives and delivered chilled. Some are drinkable cold, although eating them warmed up, ideally out of a bowl with a spoon, arguably underlines the sense that they’re a meal.”
Another Los Angeles-based company, Soupelina, told The Times its business has doubled in the past year. Soupelina, which gets most of its produce from local farmers’ markets, uses clever and catchy names for its soups, such as Kale-lifornia Dreamin’ and And the Beet Goes On.
Not surprisingly, the primary target market for soups is women.
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Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at email@example.com, follow her on Google+ and Twitter.com/Rieva, and visit her website, SmallBizDaily.com, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports.