Consumers want their treats to be delicious, and they are not only going for traditional flavors but seeking out new ones as well. 

“Cookies struggled for a while trying to find their footing from a center store perspective. Perimeter cookies were actually outpacing center store,” said Sally Lyons Wyatt, executive vice president and practice leader for client insights, Circana. “But in ’22, both center store cookies and perimeter cookies are growing. Perimeter cookies are still growing; they’re just not growing as fast as center store. When you take a look at cookies and where the biggest winners are, they’re traditional: chocolate chip, sugar. Those that come in multipacks where you can get a dozen, two dozen, and you can pick up a variety of different ones, those have also seen growth.”

Most of the growth at Otis Spunkmeyer, a brand owned by Los Angeles-based Aspire Bakeries, is being seen in core flavors, especially chocolate, said Paul Stippich, director of marketing for the brand.

“Cookie sales have been steadily increasing, with the most growth still taking place within the core flavors, especially chocolate-based flavors,” he said. “Chocolate, most notably chocolate chip, has been and probably always will be the flavor that consumers reach for time and time again.”

But he added that consumers are open to innovation as well.

“We are seeing new flavors emerging, especially as citrus profiles have started to make their entrance into the cookie world,” Mr. Stippich said. “The ingredient niches across the cookie spectrum, vegetable-fortified and protein-fortified, are still present, however consumers are less inspired by them than they are by new and exciting flavors.”

The most common flavors are chocolate and vanilla, and they both are growing in terms of the total percent of cookies introduced in the United States, said Lynn Dornblaser, director of innovation and insight, Mintel. 

“A few interesting flavors that appear in very small numbers of products yet show significant growth show the wide variety of cookies out there: olive oil, maple, purple yam, popping candy,” she added. “There has also been an increase in seasonal and limited-edition flavors, which are often those that are a bit unique or different.”

Seasonal flavors are always a popular choice and are trending at Cheryl’s Cookies, Westerville, Ohio.

“We are seeing great success in our seasonal favorites with customers already gravitating toward our fall assortment — especially anything pumpkin-flavored,” said Kara Jaggers, vice president of merchandising at Cheryl’s Cookies. “Cinnamon sugar and s’mores/hot cocoa are very popular flavor profiles right now that we have in our line. Also, our brand-new buttercream frosted cupcake line is doing very well in all flavors — including Pumpkin, Chocolate and Vanilla. Each of our individually wrapped cupcakes are topped with a snack-size cookie.”

Galaxy Desserts, Richmond, Calif., which sells French-made macarons under the brand name Brioche Pasquier, offers classic flavors such as Chocolate, Lemon, Vanilla and Pistachio and also sells a gourmet macaron collection with flavors such as Salted Caramel, Fig Poppy Seed, Coconut and more. The company is working on flavors that will especially appeal to American consumers, and should be available in early 2024.

“The goal at the beginning was really to bring the flavors that are most popular in France,” said Julien Suignard, sales director for Galaxy Desserts. “That is working, which is really good news for us. After that, because we wanted to build the market, we wanted to try United States flavors. The goal is really to do both.”

The company strives to present flavors that stand out while maintaining what sets their macarons apart.

“We want to keep what makes us unique,” Mr. Suignard said. “For example, a macaron needs to have a double texture. It needs to be crunchy outside and soft inside. Whether it’s red velvet or birthday cake that is typically American, we don’t want to change the textural experience.”

This article is an excerpt from the October 2023 issue of Baking & Snack. To read the entire feature on Cookies & Crackersclick here.