People are always asking me: What’s the next cupcake? What’s the next donut? I love the fact that I get to travel across the country and visit with passionate retail bakers who truly are the most inventive people on the planet. You make the magic. I try to connect the dots. And based on recent observations and plenty of statistical-based insights, I am here to tell you that cookies are poised for big growth ahead.

Consumers love portable, hand-held sweets, especially nowadays. Cupcakes took the country by storm a decade ago, and lately gourmet donuts gained tremendous popularity. So why cookies? Why now? For one, cookies are already baked by 89% of retail bakeries in America, according to our latest research. Further, consumers (especially younger ones) are going crazy over delivery. And that explains why a new crop of specialty bakeries that specialize in delivering cookies is popping up everywhere.

A decade ago, Insomnia Cookies was barely on the radar. Now it has 158 locations nationwide in 40 states and the District of Columbia. Insomnia Cookies is dedicated to late-night delivery. In 2019 alone, Insomnia Cookies has opened 12 locations, and plans to open more before the year ends. I call Insomnia the Jimmy John’s of the cookie business. There’s a lot of growth potential.

Now let’s look at the gourmet factor. Luxury brands are in. To be successful in retail bakery, you need to carve a niche that enables your business to stand out as something truly special. You’ll find Exhibit A on the cover of our September issue. Since it first opened in 1994, Levain Bakery has built a reputation for baking the best cookies you’ll ever taste. As of today, they only make four cookie flavors. People line up outside Levain’s five retail stores to buy them. Or they have them delivered locally. Or customers nationwide order them online. Levain’s ecommerce business keeps growing. It’s no wonder Levain received a big investment in 2018 from growth equity firm Stripes Group, “enabling us to expand our vision at a faster pace,” Levain Bakery co-founder Pam Weekes says. “We are so excited about the amazing opportunities.”