I recently noticed that the Panera Bread near Dupont Circle in Washington D.C. added several menu items with a strange common ingredient: power. There’s the Winter Power Kale Salad, the Power Chicken Hummus Bowl, the Power Breakfast Egg White Bowl, and of course the Low-Fat B-Green Power Smoothie. Yum?
What does power taste like anyway? A loaded question I’m sure the Panera marketing geniuses had in mind when creating these new food items.
Panera wants us to think we’re buying more than just 18 grams of protein and zero carbs when we buy their power foods. Like buying a shampoo means getting fabulous hair and equally fabulous dating prospects (and sex), or like buying a certain brand of basketball shoes means playing like LeBron and having the cheerleaders finally want you (and sex), buying a Power Steak Lettuce Wrap means getting power heretofore unavailable with a mere turkey sandwich (and guess what else).
While these “power” foods are sold at Panera shops around the country, I wonder if this branding is particularly effective in a place where power hungriness often seems especially insatiable: Washington D.C. By my observation, this city has more Panera Bread restaurants per capita than just about any other. And they all appear consistently packed with customers buying powerful oatmeal and the like.
I would caution consumers to be skeptical and question whether “power” is worth the added cost to a breakfast wrap. Until Panera starts selling Black Power Bean Burgers, Flower Power Eggs Florentine, and Turtle Power Soup, I think a turkey sandwich will satisfy my hunger just fine.