The days of ogling our classmates' Lunchables (this writer was partial to the pepperoni pizza box) are over. Instead, we now exchange envious glances at coworkers' dome-shaped containers filled with leafy greens and a slew of toppings. In a world where "faster" and "fresher" are simultaneously at the top of the millennial consumer's wishlist, it's no surprise that the greens-to-go concept continues to dominate. With younger consumers increasing their veggie consumption by 52%, as compared to older generations, popular fast-casual salad companies like Chopt, Just Salad, and Sweetgreen are booming and continuing to expand across the country. But what is it exactly that keeps us hooked on lunch orders from these chains?
It's the toppings that ultimately keep consumers coming back for more — without them, a salad is just an anonymous bowl of boring leafy greens. Plus, all three of these chains employ cutting-edge approaches to new ingredients and flavors — whether achieved through trial and error testing, tracking industry trends, or sourcing tech-driven data. To prove it, Chopt, Just Salad, and Sweetgreen shared their most popular toppings with us. Scroll on to find out how new salads are crafted and whether your beloved Parmesan crisps have officially reach cult-favorite status.