Relentless airline cost-cutting has turned bad plane food into a punchline and a stereotype. It is often taken as a given that those flying in economy will either have to pay for their food or, if it is included, eat congealed pasta or rubbery chicken.
Business class is a different story and, airlines like Cathay Pacific (CPCAF) or Etihad Airlines often boast onboard menus created by Michelin-starred chefs and prepared using fresh, seasonal ingredients from the airline’s country.
Luxury staples like truffles and caviar are also often used to show first-class passengers that they’re very far from economy. German air carrier Lufthansa (DLAKF) once wrote that caviar “as much an intrinsic part of our First Class service as the iconic red rose.”
A Truffle While Flying, Please
While not quite as expensive as the mushroom kind, individual dessert truffles are also commonly associated with luxury. Since founder Christina Tosi launched Milk Bar out of New York in 2008, the dessert chain known for both Cereal Milk and cake truffles took off and expanded to more 12 locations across the U.S. and Canada.
Celebrities like Kendall Jenner, Seth Rogan and Dakota Fanning have all been photographed coming out of the flagship East Village shop.
As part of ongoing update to its on-air food menu, United Airlines (UAL) is the latest company to announce that it is partnering with Milk Bar.
As of October 1, complimentary cake truffles are being offered aboard select economy and Premium Plus international flights.
As first reported by Simply Flying, flight attendants carry out the wrapped packages of the Birthday Truffle Crumb Cake on trays for guests on international flights leaving from the United States.
“Don’t wait for your birthday to throw yourself a party,” United wrote in a Facebook (META) post. “We’re now serving Milk Bar Birthday Truffle Crumb Cakes for dessert to everyone in United Economy and United Premium Plus on most long-haul international flights leaving the U.S.”
The dessert addition is part of United’s ongoing efforts to revamp the food menu on its economy and premium plus flights. The airline currently offers a three-course meal on most transatlantic flights — the ice cream it formerly served for dessert was a frequent favorite.
While Milk Bar started as a modern New York dessert place (restaurateur and Momofuku founder David Chang was an early backer), it has quickly been morphing into a national brand.
Yum! (YUM) -owned Taco Bell has recently tested a strawberry Milk Bar truffle that can be served in its restaurants.
Milk Bar’s Explosive Growth
Made out of vanilla cake and fudge filling as well as strawberry corn cake coating, the truffles came in $2.99 packs of two and were sold at some New York and California as a test for a nationwide rollout that may or may not follow.
Milk Bar’s cake truffles are an example of scalable luxury — the name is commonly associated with something high-end (some of its birthday cakes sell for upwards of $60) but the smaller products can also be mass-produced at the level of airlines and fast-food chains.
“The Strawberry Bell Truffle is the first mashup of its kind to be served to consumers on a large, test scale from our brands,” Taco Bell Executive Chef Rene Pisciotti said in a statement in August.