Can You Guess the Latest Food Trend Taking Over Retail?

Virality and scarcity appear to be working in tandem when it comes to success in cookies.
Elizabeth Lafontaine
Chief Retail Analyst, Retail Leader
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For consumers looking to satisfy their sweet tooth, cookies have accelerated to take the top spot for a sweet treat. There always seems to be a dessert of the moment — think the rise of cupcakes thanks to Sprinkles, Crumbs and Magnolia Bakery. We’ve also seen other desserts have their peak 15 minutes of sweet fame — like ice cream, cake pops, croissant doughnuts and more — but cookies are the hottest dessert trend inside and outside of the grocery store.

Crumbl Cookies

During the pandemic when consumers reached for comfort foods, cookie businesses seized the opportunity to find growth. But, these aren’t your classic mall cookie cakes. Crumbl, one of the powerhouse growth brands, started in 2017 and scaled to more than 300 locations by the end of 2021. Danny Meyer, of Shake Shack and Union Square Hospitality fame, recently invested in New York-based Chip City. And, we can’t forget about the more established sensations that now have penetrated nationally, including Levain and Milkbar. But what is it about society now that has created such high demand for sugary circles?

Virality and scarcity appear to be working in tandem when it comes to success in cookies. Crumbl and Chip City both use a rotating weekly menu so that new flavors always are coming and going, driving demand and dreaded FOMO (aka fear of missing out). Crumbl reviews are posted by thousands of users each week on TikTok: many users will try and rate each new flavor every week to share their thoughts with viewers. Consumers have built communities around trying all the flavors of these hot cookie brands. And the cookie companies are catering to this crowd with unique, inventive flavors that tie into popular culture.

Will the cookie craze outlast the fad phase? All other dessert trends eventually settle down and their producers find stabilization in their businesses. That might just be the way the cookie crumbles in this category too…