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When ball players want to move up in the system, they must showcase talent, raw skill and determination to be the best of the best at all times. When players in the cookie aisle aim to move up in the ranks, they must produce products that offer portion control, indulgence and a fabulous taste.
Thankfully, many of today’s cookie manufacturers have what it takes to throw the heat and garner some major league points.
“The key to finding a winning product or team of products is finding your niche and sticking to it,” says Nicole Nordensved, managing partner for Lark Fine Foods.
That’s why the Essex, Mass., company introduced Lady Birds, which are 100%-whole wheat oat cookies made with dried cranberries and bittersweet chocolate. Introduced in March, they’re a nod to a healthy cookie, Nordensved says. “While they’re not fruit-sweetened or fat-free, they are 100% natural and 100% whole grain,” she adds.
Lark Foods also debuted a new holiday cookie—Snowballs—otherwise known as Mexican cookies or Russian teacakes, which are round, nutty and buttery, and are rolled in confectioner’s sugar. “While sales slowed after the holidays, the market remained. We’re still making them and will soon transition from a larger gift box to a smaller box, comparable with our other cookies. These cookies fall squarely in the unapologetically decadent category,” Nordensved adds.
Aside from its seasonal and better-for-you cookie items, the Cookies for Grown-Ups line is geared toward—you guessed it—the grown-up fans in the stands. Meanwhile, the Salted Rosemary Shortbread option is deemed the most valuable player among the eight-variety lineup. “It’s our best-seller and really portrays what we’re about. It’s savory and sophisticated, 100% natural and 100% delicious,” Nordensved notes.
The folks at Lark Foods also upped the ante on their packaging initiatives to help provide a five-tool player.
“Our target audience is sophisticated, educated shoppers, and we needed packaging that would appeal to them and portray a sense of whimsy,” Nordensved adds. “We also needed to better protect our product in shipping.” That’s why Lark’s host of cookies comes in a new paperboard wrap within a polypropylene bag. “We used as little material as possible without exposing the cookies to breakage in-transit or to air spoilage,” she notes.
Isabella’s Cookie Co., on the other hand, created a new cookie-eating occasion by developing bite-sized cookies that incorporate flavors associated with meals other than dessert, says Chris Noviello, chief cookie officer. For instance, the Muffy is a blueberry muffin cookie designed for breakfast or as a midday snack, he adds. “As consumers gain access to new tastes and ingredients, their tastes mature,” Noviello notes. “Consumers in our category are appreciating more exciting flavor combinations, such as white chocolate, blueberries, chocolate-covered blueberries and chipotle and cayenne infused into chunks of chocolate.”
For its part, Pepperidge Farm, Inc., Norwalk, Conn., introduced Strawberry Milano cookies, which make for a home-run-hitting summertime indulgence. The baked goods provider also launched “Milano Moments,” an online movement where Milano fans can visit the brand’s Facebook page and share favorite moments and memories involving Milano cookies.
Likewise, companies such as Ellison Bakery, Inc. continue a trend toward healthy and/or portion control in branded products, according to MJ Sparks, director of sales and marketing. “Just like a successful team, your product portfolio has to work together to support your brand,” he says. “It’s important that your products and varieties are all focused on the brand image. That’s important particularly in this hyper-competitive market.”
As a result, the Fort Wayne, Ind.-based cookie producer is developing a line of “health”-oriented cookies, set to hit store shelves later this year. “We will be introducing two separate bag lines (one large, one snack-size) with a ‘bite-size’ product. The target is the on-the-go consumer,” Sparks adds.
Grains, granola and gluten-free
While some cookies boast indulgent flavorings, others remain tried and true to the nuts and oats of what makes a cookie a winning product.
For example, YZ Enterprises, Inc., Maumee, Ohio, created Almondina brand biscuit cookies. Tagged as The Delicious Cookie Without the Guilt, these all-natural crispy almond cookies deliver just 30 calories a piece. BranTreats, dubbed as the “outrageous” cookie, are thin, all-natural cookies made with almonds, raisins, cinnamon and 30% oat bran.
Bear Naked, Inc., Norwalk, Conn., expanded its signature line of whole grain granola products with 100% Pure & Natural soft-baked granola cookies. Baked with whole grains and simple ingredients, each cookie supplies natural energy. They come in Double Chocolate and Fruit & Blend varieties, the latter containing plump raisins, cranberries, walnuts and flavored almonds.
Cookies containing gluten-free ingredients are also stepping up to the plate, providing an opportunity for consumers to enjoy decadent cookies without all of the side effects.
New to the KinniToos line of sandwich cookies by Canada-based Kinnikinnick Foods are Chocolate Vanilla and Vanilla varieties, as well as a chocolate-packed Fudge version. Under the KinniKritters umbrella of gluten-free animal cookies are new Graham-Style and Chocolate options. These gluten-, wheat-, dairy/casein-, nut- and trans-fat-free cookies are a tasty treat in a healthy format.
Diet? What diet?
When consumers think of cookies, they tend to drum up visions of fat, calories and not-so-good-for-you ingredients. However, some cookie producers are breaking the negative stereotypes by creating a team of items that offer protein, calcium and a host of positive attributes.
Premier Nutrition, the Carlsbad, Calif., maker of a number of high-protein and energy bars, shakes and meal replacement powders, has formulated TITAN high-protein cookies, designed to help build muscle while satisfying a sweet tooth. Each 2.8-oz. pack of cookies delivers 20 g. of protein, is low in sugar and comes in Chocolate Chip, Oatmeal Raisin and Peanut Butter options.
Dr. Siegal & Son, LLC, Vienna, Va., known as the creators of Dr. Siegal’s Cookie Diet brand cookies, introduced CalciOs cookies. These kosher-certified cookies are enriched with calcium carbonate via a patent-pending formula that provides 30% of the recommended daily value of calcium and relieve occasional heartburn.
Likewise, New York-based Cavemen Bakery, LLC expanded its lineup of Cavemen cookies to now include an Alpine variety that delivers a classic Swiss flavor combination of hazelnut, chocolate and carob. In addition, these cookies offer 65-75 calories each, are made with 100%-all-natural ingredients and are consistent with the Paleolithic Diet, which is a scientifically-sound nutritional system based on a hunter-gatherers diet.
Whether it’s a product containing better-for-you ingredients or acting as a meal supplement for the crazed always-on-the-go lifestyle, today’s cookies prove that they possess all-star qualities and have what it takes to move up in the system.
Editor’s Note: To learn more about these and other new products in the cookie aisle, go to www.snackandbakery.com and check out our online new products section.