Summer might just be the sweetest time of year–and bakeries are making it sweeter with their latest offerings. On-the-go treats are forever a staple in the summertime shuffle, and individually-wrapped items make it easy for moms and kids to get a quick, portion-controlled sugar fix.

“Options for individually-wrapped products builds confidence in the consumer that our products are safe to enjoy,” says Roger R. Piffer, marketing director of Muffin Town, Chelsea, Mass. “Our grab-and-go products are fresh-frozen, thaw-and-serve, portion-controlled and individually-wrapped.”

One such product is Muffin Town’s Snack ‘N Loaves, which are 2-oz. sweet bakery loaves, available in Blueberry, Apple Cinnamon, Chocolate Chip, Carrot, Chocolate and Cinnamon Crumb Coffee Cake.

“All new avenues for the wholesale baked goods industry seem to be ‘need-driven,’” assesses Piffer. “The most basic drive is a need for a product that serves a purpose, satisfies a desire, saves time and saves money.”

Sometimes a portion is a few bites or, in the case of Swiss Colony Retail Brands Inc., Monroe, Wis., just one bite. “We are focusing on bite-sized desserts that help consumers with portion control,” says Becky Henke, vice president of the food division of Swiss Colony. “Our products deliver big flavor in small pieces, focusing on flavor infusion.”

The big flavor comes from some strategic partnerships the company has with nostalgic brands such as ICEE and Jelly Belly. “We have been producing Cake Bites (a.k.a. petit fours) since 1961,” says Henke. “We were inspired to match the flavors of ICEE and Jelly Belly in our cake creams by introducing their top-selling flavors.”

The ICEE line of Petit Fours is available in Cherry, Blue Raspberry and Lemon, while Jelly Belly Petit Fours come in Cherry, Lemon, Blueberry and Pomegranate. “We look toward co-branding and licensing partnerships that add value, while keeping our core competency of layering flavors and textures in bite-sized snacks,” says Henke.


Bring on the brownies

Speaking of classics, let’s not forget the original hand-held cake: The brownie. So definitive and so chocolatey, how could anyone improve this baked good? Some bakeries, like Silverland Bakery, Chicago, are certainly trying.

This year, the company introduced its Black Forest Brownie. Made with chocolate chips, white chocolate and dried bing cherries, the Black Forest Brownie is meant to evoke the flavors of traditional German Chocolate Cake.

If German Chocolate Cake isn’t your thing, Silverland Bakery has many more options in the brownie segment including Caramel Turtle, Chocolate Caramel, Cocoa Cow Cheesecake, Cookies N Cream, Dark Chocolate Truffle, Double Chocolate, Double Chocolate with Walnuts, Knicker Bar (a brownie topped with peanuts, peanut butter, caramel and chocolate chips), Le Sal (with salt), Peanut Butter, Rocky Road, Salted Caramel, Siberian Bear Claw (a white chocolate brownie with white chocolate chips, cashews and caramel), Seven Layer and the Classic Brownie.

Brownies are virtually irresistible, and most would agree that everyone should be able to enjoy these treats, even those with gluten allergies. In response, Amy’s Organic, Santa Rosa, Calif., has added gluten-free brownies to its offerings. Made from Rainforest Alliance-Certified cacao, Amy’s Gluten Free Chocolate Brownies come baked and frozen, which consumers can easily thaw, slice and take along.


Clean-label cakes

Gluten- and allergen-free goods are also in great demand within the bakery segment, and brands are definitely taking notice. “The voice of the consumer has turned into a call, and this call is for growth in the allergen-free market,” states Doon Wintz, president of Wholly Wholesome.

While it doesn’t yet have any products available for this market, the Chester, N.J., company says it plans to introduce its own line of allergen-free sweet goods and snack cake items later this summer. “People within our own organization who are allergy-sensitive inspired us,” says Wintz. “We are also inspired by the passion of our consumers. As new products were introduced, it became obvious that consumers with one allergy have multiple allergies. Therefore, creating gluten-free products was no longer enough for us. We want all our consumers to enjoy snack cakes and sweet goods.”

Beyond allergens, clean-label baked goods are another point of concern for consumers. “Americans are becoming more health-conscious and always looking for healthy, guilt-free alternatives that satisfy their cravings,” says Jim Cleveland, vice president of sales for Mom Made Foods LLC. “Consumers are increasingly concerned and aware about trans-fats, GMOs (genetically modified organisms) and high-fructose corn syrup as ingredients that they are choosing to avoid.”

In response, the Alexandria, Va., company relaunched its Mom Made Apple Pie Munchie this spring. “Mom Made Apple Pie Munchie is often set with our other Mom Made Munchies items in frozen snacks,” says Cleveland. “It’s positioned as an all-natural, organic, low-sugar, convenient and nutritious hand-held pocket, perfect for an on-the-go snack or a lunchbox treat and great for the whole family.”

The Apple Pie Munchie is Mom Made’s singular sweet offering, but is a natural fit in its line of products. “Everyone craves something sweet,” says Cleveland. “Apples are a delicious and healthy fruit, a powerful source of antioxidants, have vitamin C and are a good source of fiber and potassium.”


Desserts on a diet

Choosing a sweet snack can sometimes be a struggle for consumers trying to watch what they eat. Fortunately, Rudolph Foods is committed to making that choice easier with its Cinnamon Twists.

“Our Cinnamon Twists are whole-grain, [contain] zero trans-fats and [are] great-tasting,” exclaims Mark Singleton, vice president of sales and marketing for the Lima, Ohio, company. “It’s the perfect cross between a sweet snack and great crunch for a 3 p.m. sweets craving.”

Offering a better-for-you bakery product seems to be key this year, and Love & Quiches Gourmet, Freeport, N.Y., has noticed. “Even in the dessert category, consumers are looking for more nutrition from their foods,” states Susan Axelrod, chairwoman and founder. “We try to be trend-responsive and give our consumers items to fill those needs.”

One such item is the company’s Greek Yogurt Cheesecake, with 50% more protein, 40% less fat and 23% fewer calories than its New York Cheesecake. Folks with a cheesecake craving—no matter the calories—can also enjoy Love & Quiches’ Sky High Cheesecake, Crunchy Fried Cheesecake and Cookies and Cream Cheesecake made with OREO.

“Let’s face it, we sell snacks,” states Axelrod. “Snacks are usually an indulgence that consumers can give themselves permission to indulge in. Making a snack completely healthy no longer makes it an indulgence and therefore changes the consumer’s response to it.”

Quick indulgences that may lead to just a bit less guilt might include Love and Quiches’ line of Gourmet Grab & Go items—individually wrapped snack cakes. “Our Grab & Go line is a response to the busier, 24-hour lifestyle of today,” says Axelrod. Options in the line include Triple Chocolate Brownie, Classic Brownie with Walnuts, Oatmeal Chewie, Blondie, Classic Chocolate Brownie, Rainbow Brownie and Cookies and Cream Brownie.

“Cakes of all kinds represent the coming together of family and friends,” Axelrod adds. “There’s no better impact on health than the ability to relax with a meal and enjoy the company of those you care about.”

One company specializing in quick, guilt-lite indulgences is Jackson, Mich.-based Dawn Food Products Inc., which produces a variety of snack cake products for Weight Watchers. Whether counting calories or points, consumers can rely on the individually-portioned treats to be within virtually any diet plan.

“Research indicates that consumers are craving high-quality, great-tasting, indulgent sweet treats that help them enjoy the sweeter side of life without compromising their weight-management goals,” states Jamie Dittenber, brand manager. “We’ve been extremely excited and pleased with the consumer reaction we’ve received with our new Brownie Bliss products.”

Inspired by consumers, the Brownie Bliss line comes in Triple Chocolate, Peanut Butter and Mint Chocolate.

Brownies aren’t the only Weight Watchers baked good available to consumers. Dawn Foods also produces a Weight Watchers snack cake line in Chocolate Crème, Lemon Crème, Carrot Crème, Red Velvet Crème and Coffee Cake.

“As consumer expectations evolve, we are challenged to develop products that meet their quality, taste and value demands,” says Dittenber. “It’s important to us to develop innovative products that provide a notable difference to our consumers, one they value and expect from Dawn Food Products and Weight Watchers Sweet Baked Goods.”

Thanks to these bakeries, there’s a sweet good to satisfy any craving consumers might have, whether they’re counting calories, reading labels or just need a quick taste of summertime nostalgia.