America, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?

Nov 06, 12 America, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?

By Cassandra Bremer, content developer at The San Jose Group

America, guess who’s coming to dinner?


The beautiful thing about food is people have got to eat—surviving without it is an impossibility. But for the Hispanic population, food, or meals rather, are times to bring the family together and celebrate traditions.

Over 5 nights a week, Hispanics are eating home cooked dinners—and those dinners might not be the stereotypical Spanish foods like tacos, burritos, rice and beans; Hispanics, depending on their level of acculturation, tend to adapt to an American diet.1 Yup, Hispanics are leaving those taco shells on the shelves and are firing up the grill. Acculturated Hispanics are only eating ethnic twice a week, leaving at least five nights of non-Hispanic dinning a week.

As with any immigrating culture, Hispanics are undergoing lifestyle changes including acculturating and assimilating into the American culture. According to, the modern U.S. Hispanic diet consists of meals influenced by their traditional country of origin as well as ones from the United States.Therefore, the higher the acculturation level, the lower the consumption of authentic Hispanic foods.

The American supermarket can be described in one word: options—people can buy almost any kind of food; the more people shop at supermarkets, the bigger their opportunities to branch out to other foods. A majority of Hispanics purchase their groceries at supermarkets in addition to butcher shops, bakeries, bodegas, convenience stores, drug stores, specialty shops and warehouse stores.1 Hispanics also prefer to buy in bulk vs. buying prepackage.

Hispanics don’t cut out the middleman in food; in addition to buying and eating, preparing food is a central part of the Hispanic diet because they believe a home prepared meal has more nutritional value than prepackaged meals.  In fact, Hispanics spend almost 50% more dollars per year on produce compared to the American average. Such produce includes authentic Hispanic fruits and vegetables like avocado, plantain, mango, squash, bananas, beans and corn.

“In the US, Hispanic families are now exposed to a whole new series of food products.  Combine this with the more traditional values of cooking at home and you have the perfect setting for a rewarding culinary experience for Mom and her family.  It is all about trying new things and this is where a larger portion of household income is spent,” said George L. San Jose, president and chief creative officer at The San Jose Group.

Marketers cannot assume the only thing Hispanics want to eat are tamales. The fact is, Hispanics like to mix meals, exploring traditional Hispanic menu options as well as American ones. Since Hispanics prefer fresh produce, Marketers must stress the quality of their products and let them know the products are “made with fresh ingredients” through packaging updates. Brands should also share their fresh food message with consumers through social media campaigns.  Don’t miss out on the Hispanic meal time.

More Hispanic Food Facts

Did you know…

…Hispanics who speak Spanish as a primary language eat a healthier diet in the US than those who speak English?

…Hispanics spend $40 more a week on groceries than the general American population?

… Hispanics consider shopping a family outing?

…The United States is home to over 50 Million Hispanics? (That’s a lot of feeding mouths).

…6 out of 10 Hispanics smell a product before they buy it?



  1. Cuellar, Sandra. (2006). “The Hispanic Market in the U.S.—Opportunities and Challenges for the Food Industry.” Cornell University.

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