If you’ve ever immediately craved a food after seeing it on television or while watching a movie, you’ll understand the impact pop culture can have on our taste buds — and even the sales of certain dishes and products.
Foodies and movie lovers have seen it time and time again: Just one reference to a certain restaurant or dish can result in viewers heading there to try it. (Sex and the City sending people flocking to New York City’s Magnolia Bakery, then kicking off a gourmet cupcake trend is the perfect example of this.)
And The Avengers is no exception to this rule. The Marvel film concludes with Tony Stark miraculously surviving his trip into the wormhole created by Thanos and the Chitauri, then almost immediately suggesting the team celebrate by getting shawarma, a Middle Eastern dish made up of thin meat slices marinated in spices.
“Have you ever tried shawarma?” Tony asks the rest of the Avengers. “There’s a shawarma joint about two blocks from here. I don’t know what it is, but I want to try it.”
How The Avengers boosted shawarma sales in the U.S.
Playing off of Tony’s suggestion, The Avengers post-credits scene shows the gang eating shawarma at a restaurant later identified as Shalom Grill in Los Angeles.
As you might imagine, the scene had a similar impact to the Sex and the City cupcake craze. Restaurants revealed that customers were suddenly stopping by to try shawarma, seemingly inspired by what they’d seen onscreen.
Another LA-based restaurant, Ro Ro’s Chicken, told TMZ that they saw an 80-percent jump in sales following the film’s theatrical release. Likewise, food carts in Manhattan reportedly saw increased business, and some people even attempted to make the dish at home.
It seems the interest sparked by The Avengers hasn’t escaped Disney’s notice either. Per Eater, the Avengers Campus heading to Disneyland later this year is opening Shawarma Palace, a food cart that will serve the now-famous dish. With that, the franchise might just convince a few more people to try it, reigniting the shawarma craze all over again.
Have you ever discovered a new favorite dish thanks to a television show or movie? Tell us your story in the comments below!