When I travel—or throughout the always-lively and competitive greater Chicagoland grocery industry, my home market—I revel in visits to unfamiliar grocery and convenience stores. Instantly immersed, strolling the perimeter and aisles, eyes darting to end caps and standalone displays, I’m a true omnivore awash in the thrill of the hunt for something new and delicious.

Of course, we all have favorite foods, and select snack and bakery categories inevitably rise quickly to the top of my hit list. And cookies will always top them all. A properly designed and executed chocolate chip cookie is a wonder to behold.

I believe in the transformative power of cookies.

So when I first began to peruse the wealth of exclusive brand snacks available from ALDI, our 2021 Snack Producer of the Year, it should come as no surprise that I spent a disproportionate amount of time at first in the cookie aisle. The cookie category has a great level of snacking-fueled diversity these days, and ALDI is right in step with the trends with its Simply Nature Coconut Cashew Crisps—a seven-ingredient uber-crispy “little indulgence” delight. And the Simply Nature Grain Free Cookie Bites offer a satisfying and unique take on a chewier, brownie-like, two-bite option. Add in that both products check a litany of shopper-demographic boxes like gluten-free, Paleo, vegan, and non-GMO, and I was hooked. I was also on my way toward discovering an outstanding range of snack products across the Simply Nature range, one that unifies innovation, better-for-you, natural, organic, and affordability across a diverse network of ALDI buyers and supplier partners (see "2021 Snack Producer of the Year: ALDI’s affordable simplicity" to read the article).

One of the wonderful aspects of Simply Nature is its alignment with ALDI’s notable commitments toward fostering sustainability. It’s a unified vision that resonates with the devoted ranks of ALDI shoppers—a base that continues to grow as ALDI adds more stores. This year, ALDI is poised to add 100 more locations, bringing the grand total to over 2,100.

Good ideas, after all, love to grow.