In a move toward boldly-flavored, healthful products, manufacturers are finding innovative ways to meet the needs of consumers who favor sweet and savory bakery foods and snacks.

Starting with the dessert first, familiar flavors and healthful benefits can be found in many of Wholly Wholesome’s pie products.

“In August 2011, we added a six-inch Organic Traditional Pie Shell, a nine-inch Organic Rolled Pie Dough and a reformulated eight-inch Dairy Free Pumpkin Pie to our line of kosher, organic and vegan/dairy-free products,” says Doon Wentz, president of the Chester, N.J., company.

The Dairy Free Pumpkin Pie substitutes dairy with a pumpkin and tofu puree to satisfy its vegan clientele. Wholly Wholesome realizes that even by making its products vegan and organic, they are still going to be indulgent.

“From a dieter’s standpoint, we recognize that our products aren’t going to be the foundation of their diet, so instead we provide an opportunity for wholesome indulgence,” says Wentz. “We use less salt and offer whole wheat solutions…We are very conscious of not putting anything artificial into our products.”

Wholly Wholesome also is making headway in the gluten-free market by introducing a gluten-free pie shell this March.

“These new pie shells hold true to our belief that one should not have to sacrifice taste for ingredients.” adds Wentz.

Sweet and savory product manufacturers also are noticing a trend of more healthful products that contain familiar and not-so-familiar flavor combinations. One such combination pairs sweet and savory to create a snack that satiates both palates.

Tropical Foods of Charlotte, N.C., ensures satisfaction to any snack craving, sweet or savory, with its ReCharge snack mixes. More importantly, consumers can snack guilt-free on this healthy line of naturally enhanced snack mixes.

“Consumers want the best of everything: A healthy, flavor-filled snack that has great value and comes in a convenient package,” says Chad Hartman, brand manager. “ReCharge ingredients are enhanced with probiotics, Omega-3, pomegranate seed oil and chia seeds.”

The ReCharge line offers the Super Charged Cranberry Blend with cranberries, which are Omega-3 fortified and pomegranate-infused, probiotic dark chocolate cranberries; dark chocolate chunks; almonds and yogurt-dipped peanuts. The line also includes the Chia ReCharge Stix Mix, which contains chia sticks, dark chocolate chunks, yogurt-covered raisins, pineapple, white chocolate drops, cranberries and almonds.

Hartman says his consumers are looking for value and healthfulness in his products, emphasizing the goal of creating nutritious snacks with good flavor.

For a consumer looking for more than just a protein kick in a snack, Tropical Foods’ ReCharge line offers the Dark Chocolate Energy Boost mix, which contains probiotic cranberries and coffee beans, which are coated in dark chocolate. Mixed with almonds, chocolate chunks and pineapple, the blend offers consumers a little more zing than the average snack mix.

All three ReCharge mixes come in a variety of packaging options, a 10-oz. cube, 5-oz. resealable pouches, and 10-lb. bulk bags.

Coffee beans aren’t the only bold ingredient used in Tropical Foods snack products. The line of Grabeez snacks, best known for coming in convenient, resealable cups, includes snack mix options such as Buffalo Nuts, Mexicali Fire, Wasabi Explosion, Diet Delight, Fantastix, Sunburst, Mini Yogurt Pretzels and Gummy Bears.

“We are promoting the healthy aspects behind our products, keeping health and nutrition in mind when new products are developed and considering a convenient package for the on-the-go consumer,” says Hartman.

The company recently added Mini Chocolate Pretzels, Sour Fruit Slices, Sour Neon Worms and its Banana Split mix to the grab-and-go line.

“We are constantly looking for the new flavor that will become popular, or the new package that will be perfect for a segment of consumers,” says Hartman.

Sometimes the craving for chips is too strong to ignore, and popchips of San Francisco is ensuring that consumers can be satiated while experiencing new flavors in a healthful snack option.

“With the trend of healthier eating continuing to grow, people are looking for healthier options when snacking,” states Stefanie Grossman, director of brand marketing. “Other consumer food trends pertain to flavors, specifically the growth in popularity of multicultural inspired flavors and sweet plus savory flavor combinations.”

popchips recently launched a variety of options to satisfy these trends, including Jalapeno, Chili Lime, Sweet Potato and Thai Sweet Chili, a spicy sweet blend of garlic, jalapeno, onion, tomato and paprika served on a popped potato chip. The new varieties are not only healthier than the average chip, they are also gluten-free.

“popchips are an all-natural chip like you’ve never tasted before,” states Grossman. “Never fried, never baked, popchips have all the flavor and less than half of the fat of fried chips.”

In creating a healthier chip, sometimes it’s not only the way the chip is made, but the ingredients used that make it a better snacking option. Snikiddy, Boulder, Colo., manufactures Eat Your Vegetables chips which are made with a combination of carrots, navy beans and sweet potatoes.

“Snikiddy creates products for families actively looking for healthier foods that satisfy their snack cravings,” says Mary Schulman, founder. “The Snikiddy brand is a portfolio of better-for-you snacks that are simple, wholesome, real products.”

Eat Your Vegetables chips contain a full serving of vegetables and come in Sea Salt, Sour Cream and Onion, and Jalapeno Ranch flavors. All options are gluten and wheat-free and contain no cholesterol, trans fats, hydrogenated oils, high-fructose corn syrup or artificial flavors, colors or preservatives.

“Snikiddy is unique in that we offer a snack line for everyone in the family,”
says Schulman.

Boulder Canyon Natural Foods, Phoenix, Ariz., also is encouraging consumers to add more vegetables to their diets with its line of Garden Select Vegetable Crisps. Made with a blend of 12 different vegetables including celery, cabbage, tomatoes, carrots, bell peppers, broccoli and kale, the chips come in options such as Red Ripe Tomato, Sour Cream and Chive and Hearty Cheddar.

“The Garden Crisps are cooked in sunflower and safflower oils, which are low in saturated fat and rich in essential fatty acids,” says Jennifer Ennesser, brand manager. “The Crisps contain 30 percent less fat than traditional salty snacks and feature zero trans fats, no cholesterol and no MSG.”

Each serving of the Garden Crisps contain three-quarters of a serving of vegetables, are gluten-free and are kosher.

Non-potato snack base

Boulder Canyon also is using a non-potato snack base for its Rice and Bean snack chips, which come in Sea Salt and Chipotle Cheese options. Additionally, it offers chickpea-based Hummus Chips in two varieties: Lightly Salted and Lightly Salted with Sesame.

“Over the last couple of years, we have been focusing on offering unique snack bases,” says Ennesser. “Our core is kettle chips, but we are always searching for new items to introduce.”

Staying true to its core, Boulder Canyon has found a way to introduce new, bold flavors in its Kettle Chip line. These include Red Wine Vinegar, Balsamic Vinegar and Rosemary, Spinach and Artichoke, Jalapeno and Cheddar, Malt Vinegar and Sea Salt and Totally Natural Olive Oil options. It also offers more familiar varieties such as Sea Salt and Cracked Pepper, Totally Natural 60% Reduced Sodium, Totally Natural No Salt Added, Totally Natural 40% Reduced Fat, Parmesan Garlic and Hickory Barbeque.

“Consumers appreciate interesting and unique products as long as great taste remains the end game,” says Ennesser.

Consumers also can satisfy the craving for crunch by turning to some savory non-chip products. Rudolph Foods, Lawrenceville, Ga., offers a variety of savory products with an ethnic flare. The company’s Southern Recipe line, best known for pork rinds and cracklins, has recently launched Sweet Southern Bar-B-Q Rings. For consumers looking for something a bit healthier, the Southern Recipe line offers its new Cheesy Cajun Flavored Popcorn.

“Consumers are clearly telling us that they are watching what they eat and they want those healthy snack choices or options,” says Mark Singleton, vice president of sales and marketing.

Rudolph Foods is aware that there is a demand for healthier snack products offering the familiar flavors that consumers enjoy. “One example of addressing consumers’ healthy snack concerns is with our 80-calorie serving bags—to help people be aware of what their nutritional goals are and to let them know we’re on their side and here to help them,” states Singleton.

Snacking for soldiers

Some consumers seek out brands that are whole-grain, gluten-free or sustainably made and some consumers want their snacks with a conscience. Five Point Snacks of New York manufactures a variety of snack products that not only satisfy a craving, but gives back to American veterans.

“Our company is committed to a great social mission,” says Michele Abo, chief operating officer. “We donate 11 percent of our profits to organizations that support and care for United States veterans.”

The company’s aptly-named line of snacks includes Major Murphy’s Kettle Cooked Potato Chips, Sailor Knots Mini Pretzel Knots, Airmen Popcorn Classic American White Corn, Flotilla Tortillas Whole Grain White Corn and G.I. Crunches Strong Cheddar Cheese Twists. Launched on Veterans’ Day, 2011, the treats celebrate each branch of the military.

“The salty snack category is very competitive with national companies dominating strong market share,” states Abo. “We feel that our social mission to support United States veterans will provide a strong point of difference that will resonate with customers.”

So if it’s sweet or savory, manufacturers are finding new ways to set themselves apart from the competition through bold flavors, healthy options and even charitable causes.