eclipse_images/Getty ImagesGen Z prefers different flavors to other generations. In particular, they like to make their dishes spicy.”Spice levels generally heat up with younger generations,” Panda Express’ Del Rio said, making dishes such as its Kung Pao Chicken and Sizzling Shrimp popular among Gen Zers.Chipotle’s Perdue said that Gen Z ordered more of its Queso Blanco, a cheese dip with peppers for a spicy kick, than other generations, while Todd Roe, senior director of consumer insights at Wendy’s, told Insider that its Spicy Chicken Nuggets were especially popular among Gen Zers. Subway is offering more spicy options to appeal to Gen Zers, Lowe said.Dickey’s has also tweaked its menu in response to younger diners. “They overwhelmingly order chicken,” Dickey said. “So while we’ve always had it on the menu, it hasn’t always been a feature focus. We’ve also added smoked chicken wings, and that was a direct response to Gen Z.” In a 2022 poll by Morning Consult, 13% of 1,000 US Gen Z respondents said that chicken was their favorite food, ahead of steak, burgers, sushi, and fries and behind only pizza.In addition, Gen Z likes to embrace individualism with customizable dishes as well as trying things that seem novel or exclusive.”Younger generations in general value new flavors and novelty menu items, particularly food they may not make at home,” Panda Express’ Del Rio said. She said this had included the chain’s plant-based Orange Chicken, Orange Chicken Sandwich, and Panda Bing wrap.At Wendy’s, Gen Z is more likely to prefer specialty drinks like iced coffee and craft lemonades over traditional beverages, Roe said.Data from Morning Consult shows that Gen Z is considerably more likely than other generations to try new foods and beverages.”As members of the most diverse generation of Americans, with more channels of exposure to global trends and more ways to purchase increasingly niche products, Gen Zers’ penchant for trying new foods and beverages, whether it’s through buzzworthy mashups or novel functional benefits, seems likely to last a lifetime,” Morning Consult’s Emily Moquin wrote in the report.Taylor said that at Gen Z customers embraced the customizable nature of Playa Bowls’ dishes. A core part of Starbucks’ strategy is customers’ ability to personalize their drinks, and TikTok has created demand for lattes and Frappuccinos with long lists of modifications.Health is also an important consideration, the execs said. Gen Z “grew up with a deeper understanding of nutrition,” Chipotle’s Perdue said.”They prioritize their health. They put that first,” Playa Bowls’ Taylor said. “They’re willing to spend the money to get quality ingredients … They definitely are in tune with what they’re putting in their bodies.”