Long Live the Cake
By Maria Pilar Clark
King Arthur is one of the greatest mythological figures in all of English literature. His name has filled endless tomes with tales steeped in legend and painted with iconic images of the Knights of the Round Table, Merlin the wizened sorcerer and last but not least, the elusive Holy Grail.
Ultimately, Arthur discovered that it’s not easy being king. A kingdom expects a lot from its monarch, and challenges continuously rear their dark, ugly heads like fire-breathing dragons. A king must be savvy and continuously on his toes, always expecting the unexpected at every turn. For Arthur, it was too little too late.
Category Breakdown (52 weeks ending Aug. 7, 2005)
Category Dollar Volume (in millions) % Change Dollar Share
All Coffee Cake Brands $152.7 -1.9% 100.0
All Danish Brands $124.7 -7.6% 100.0
SOURCE: Information Resources Inc., Total U.S. — Food (Supermarkets only)
Not so for snack cake manufacturers who are learning from history and honing their savoir-faire to reinvent the sweet goods realm with new product introductions and re-introductions of familiar, tried-and-true favorites.
Neat Sweets
Bay Shore, N.Y.-based Entenmann’s, Inc., a division of George Weston Bakeries Inc., is appealing to consumers across the land with its new line of baked sweets called Enten-mini’s. Available nationwide in September, the sweet selection of seven new cakes, brownies and dessert treats was developed to meet the hectic lifestyles of families while incorporating varieties that appeal to both adults and kids alike.
According to Entenmann’s, the product line focuses on indulgence and satisfying that sweet treat craving. However, all of the products are portion-controlled, or “right-sized” for convenience, and promote eating in moderation. The delicious result is a rich, indulgent marriage of flavors that go together like Guinevere and Lancelot.
Adults have their choice of four sophisticated snack cakes such as Napoleons, Caramel & Crème Squares, Carrot Cakes and full-sized Chocolate Rounds.
The upscale Napoleon comes in “ready-to-run” packaging, and is made of a light, flaky pastry bar brimming with layers of custard crème and raspberry-flavored filling beneath vanilla and chocolate icing. There are six individually wrapped servings in each 12.2-oz. box which has a suggested retail price of $3.99.
Snacking takes on a sensuous level with sumptuous Caramel & Crème Squares. Each snack is comprised of a golden cake square filled with smooth caramel and marshmallow crème that is dipped entirely in chocolate. 12 double-packed cakes in a 12.9-oz. box retail for $3.99.
A mini-version of an American favorite are the line’s Carrot Cakes. Each moist, flavorful, classic carrot cake is topped with a rich cream cheese icing. Eight individually wrapped servings are packed in a 10.9-oz. box with a suggested retail price of $3.99.
The last offering in the adult line pays homage to chocolate lovers with  Chocolate Rounds. Each mini chocolate cake is portioned for eating on-the-go and is filled with a white crème filling and then dipped in chocolate. Chocoholics can savor six individually wrapped servings per 14.4-oz. box for $3.99.
Kids also have plenty to look forward to, with Enten-mini’s offerings designed to be just the right size for their lunchboxes. Little hands will be grabbing one or all three new products from Entenmann’s mini line.
Brownie Frosters are mini soft fudge brownies topped with vanilla icing and studded with chocolate chips. There are six individually wrapped treats per 10.6-oz. box, sure to turn snack-toting students into the talk of the lunchroom. The boxes retail for $3.69.
Mini cupcakes called Roundabouts are sure to be the star of the lunch hour. Each round, golden cake is filled with a white crème filling and dipped in chocolate. Four individually wrapped, twin-cake packs come in each 7.1-oz. box with a suggested retail price of $3.69.
Chocolate Rounds are the same sweet chocolate treat designed for adults, but conveniently half-sized for the school-going pint-sized set. Individually wrapped servings are packed 10 to a 10.4-oz. box and retail for $3.69.
Interstate Bakeries Corp. (IBC) also is making varied introductions with its new snack cake offerings. The Kansas City-based bakery pulled the proverbial sword from the stone and found success with its marketing tie-in promotion with a major motion picture last October, launching Shrek Hostess Twinkies just after the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
Snack Cake Brands (52 weeks ending Aug. 7, 2005)
Rank Brand Dollar Volume (in millions) % Change Dollar Share
1 Little Debbie $247.4 +3.2% 35.4
2 Hostess $180.6 -13.6% 25.8
3 Private Label $80.8 +1.2% 11.6
4 Tastykake $64.5 -0.7% 9.2
5 Drake $35.6 -6.3% 5.1
  TOTAL* $699.4 -3.5% 100.0
SOURCE: Information Resources Inc., Total U.S. — Food (Supermarkets only)

Donut Brands (52 weeks ending Aug. 7, 2005)
Rank Brand Dollar Volume (in millions) % Change Dollar Share
1 Krispy Kreme $230.3 -15.3% 30.9
2 Entenmann’s $145.7 -3.6% 19.5
3 Hostess $89.2 +3.7% 12.0
4 Private Label $74.1 -13.3% 9.9
5 Dolly Madison $38.2 +10.0% 5.1
  TOTAL* $745.2 -4.3% 100.0
SOURCE: Information Resources Inc., Total U.S. — Food (Supermarkets only)
The Twinkies featured the same golden cake consumers were used to, but a surprise twist featured green crème filling to match the ornery ogre’s green skin. Although suppliers were initially hesitant to participate in what they perceived to be a risky venture, many found themselves running out of product as consumers clamored for more.
“The amazing thing about Hostess products is their amazing staying power,” says Kevin Kaul, brand manager for Hostess. “They continue to stand the test of time — year after year and generation to generation.”
With marketing as its newfound priority, IBC partnered with Warner Bros. in July, just in time for the release of the major motion picture “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.” From that alliance, IBC developed Chocolicious WonkaCakes, putting a quirky twist on the company’s well-known Hostess CupCakes. The snacks now feature a creamy purple filling, are topped with purple icing and finished with an orange Oompa Loompa-colored squiggle. The WonkaCakes are available for a limited time and will be supported with in-store displays and point-of-purchase merchandising.
“Our top performers continue to be Twinkies, celebrating their 75th anniversary this year, and chocolate CupCakes, which date back to 1919,” notes Kaul. “Regardless of food fads and diet trends that have come and gone, these snack cakes have enjoyed an incredibly enduring appeal.”
IBC is currently undergoing its first major packaging revamp in 25 years. The company is rolling out the red carpet for its new look surrounding Hostess snack cakes, and is creating consumer awareness through new television ad campaigns and outdoor and in-store efforts.
Hostess is among the best-known consumer brands in American history, but we’re not resting on our laurels,” says Kaul. “As the choices available to consumers continue to grow, it is important to make sure that our products — whether in type of product or how they are packaged — connect with today’s consumers.”
According to Kaul, the new Hostess packaging design has an exciting modern look, but at the same time, taps into the nostalgic equity of the iconic Hostess brand.
“That’s the thinking behind our slogan, ‘Fresh Face, Same Great Taste,’” he adds.
The redesign, via Bakers Associates of Wayzata, Minn., features a combination of Hostess equity colors with amped up visuals and graphics on packages of Twinkies, CupCakes, Ding Dongs, Ho Hos, Suzy Qs, Donnettes, Mini Muffins and Donut Bites, depicting the sweet snacks in all their mouth-watering glory. The new packaging will first appear in markets in California, Arizona and Nevada. Other markets across the country will see the new packaging by the end of the year.
Twinkie the Kid, IBC’s classic mascot from the 1970s, even has gotten the royal treatment, playing a more prominent role in the new Twinkies packaging design. Curly, a sweet new character has been making his debut on packages of CupCakes.
Flavor Fusion
Snack cake manufacturers are taking their innovations one step further and expanding their sweet goods kingdom to include Hispanic consumers — the fastest growing ethnic group in the United States, which represents a large piece of market share.
“One of the most notable trends in the sweet snack category is the strong growth in the Hispanic population, which is now about 15% of the U.S. population, and has a purchasing power of about $600 billion,” explains Kaul. “We’ve recognized that this market presents a tremendous opportunity for us to leverage the recognition and popularity of our iconic Hostess brand and create exciting new products that reflect the rich and vibrant culture of Hispanic Americans.”
That’s just what IBC has done with its launch of Las Delicias de Hostess, a new line of sweet treats launched in August. What’s more is that the company has gone beyond just packaging Twinkies or Ho Hos in Spanish-language wrappers. Instead, IBC focused on targeting Hispanic consumers with the traditional products they want most, such as conchas (shell-shaped sweet breads), panques (pound cakes studded with raisins and pecans) and pastelitos (small cakes covered in fruit and coconut).
Las Delicias de Hostess is the first major expansion of the Hostess family of snack cakes in several years,” notes Kaul. “In focusing on the Hispanic consumer, we didn’t want to simply put Spanish language packaging on our existing products. We chose to develop entirely new sweet snacks with unique flavors and textures.”
The snack cakes are being introduced to three initial markets in San Diego, Dallas and Phoenix, with plans to have them debut in the Chicago area next year. Among the line’s 10 new products are Mini Pastelitos de Piña, pineapple and coconut-covered cakes with creamy filling; Panque con Nueces, mini pound cakes with nuts; Cupcakes de Fresa, white cupcakes with strawberry filling; and Conchas, soft, chewy yeast rolls dusted with a sugary topping.
“Over the last several months, IBC has tapped into our impressive R&D capabilities to bring several bold new products to market and put in place a pipeline of innovation for the future,” says Kaul. “As we continue with our strategy of speed, focus and innovation, we are excited about the many opportunities we see in store for increasing our presence and improving our growth in the years to come.”
Adding more diversification to the snack cake aisle is Thomasville, Ga.-based Flowers Foods Specialty Group’s Tesoritos (“little treasures”) line of products targeted to the U.S. Hispanic sector. Launched in 2003, the Tesoritos line became the first Hispanic snack cake product to be produced by a wholesale baker based in the U.S.
This year, Flowers added cuernitos, a croissant-like product, to the line and has plans to add more offerings in 2006. The line also saw some changes in packaging, including brighter colors, more enticing product graphics and the addition of clear “windows” to some packaging so that the consumer can view the product inside the box.
Flowers also is conducting its first tie-in promotion in conjunction with its Tesoritos line. Consumers who purchase the product will find a free pack of Klass fruit drink mix inside every box. Klass is a Mexican-based company that, according to Flowers, is popular among Hispanic consumers.
The company continues to add to its other existing snack cake lines, and according to Allen Shiver, president and chief operating officer of Flower Foods Specialty Group, it recently acquired Royal Baking.
“Our most recent capital investment … was completed September 1 and reinforces our commitment to the snack market,” he says. “We continue to invest capital dollars in all our snack plants through our ongoing efforts to improve production efficiencies and further enhance product quality.”
Although Flowers plans to unveil exciting new products in early 2006, mum’s the word for now, and the company is currently enjoying sales growth through the expansion of its Mrs. Freshley’s brand in all major distribution channels.
“Our Mrs. Freshley’s snack cake brand has been enjoying great success in all channels of distribution — mass, club stores, c-stores, vending and supermarket,” says Shiver. “While some of this may be due to the challenges facing our larger competitors, we’ve focused our energies on expanding our market and building the Mrs. Freshley’s brand. We see a lot of opportunity out there to grow this brand.”
Today’s snack cake aisle is a proverbial Camelot — a blend of fact and fiction that brings indulgence to life. New product innovations and introductions are airing out shelves in the snack cake aisle, prompting manufacturer’s loyal subjects to proclaim “Long live the cake!” — while eating it too.