KANSAS CITY, MO — Consumers’ ability to communicate with bakers through avenues like social media has changed the game for tracking and understanding trends. In what the company called “the Great TikTok Boom of 2021,” Orem, UT-based Crumbl — an emerging cookie giant known for its limited-time offer cookies — found itself in a unique position to receive direct consumer feedback via user-generated content on the popular video app. When #CrumblReview, where consumers taste-tested the weekly lineups online, went viral, the company seized the opportunity not only to grow a substantial social media following — 5 million followers on TikTok and more than 2 million on Instagram — but also to gain direct consumer feedback in an unprecedented way.

“Feedback is something we hold in the highest regard, and people are always commenting, ‘Tell us when this cookie’s coming back,’ or, ‘You guys should try this kind of a cookie,’” said Chelsea Currier, VP of R&D at Crumbl. “Those are the things we’re always taking into account. When it comes to the creation of cookies, there’s always a number of factors that go into it and feedback is one of those.”

In addition to online comments, Crumbl’s R&D team runs a testing program at 30 of the brand’s retail locations to collect live consumer feedback. This is part of the rigorous process each of these flavor varieties goes through, in addition to a strict set of guidelines, before a flavor is put on the menu.


According to the company, the top flavors and inclusions among consumers include candy and fruit. Between the company’s LTO structure and ongoing issues with the supply chain, forecasting for ingredients and inclusions for flavors that only come out once or twice a year presents a unique challenge for R&D and procurement.

“Because we have so many locations, the sheer size of that kind of an order for candy bars and fruit requires months, sometimes even years, of lead time to procure the quantity needed for these cookies,” said Katie Dunn, Crumbl’s senior director of procurement.

“When it comes to the creation of cookies, there’s always a number of factors that go into it and feedback is one of those.” — Chelsea Currier| VP of R&D | Crumbl


As working with her suppliers to forecast flavors has helped keep business moving, Rebecca Abel, CEO and founder of luxury cookie brand D’Vine Cookies, also noted that equipment needs and automation have become imperative to keeping the business running as staff shortages and labor recruitment struggles challenge her company’s production operations.

“We’re partially automated, and we have a lot of equipment, but when we’re short on people, I’m thinking, ‘Gosh, if I had one particular machine, this would make this much quicker today,’” Abel said. “It’s making the demand for automation higher and higher when we’re dealing with staff shortages and challenges finding employees.”

Technological advances have improved operations for Toufayan Bakeries, which runs two to four cookie lines of cookies for up to 60 different SKUs.

“Our oven from Reading Bakery Systems has been working very well to help us with our quality, our consistency and overall production,” said Greg Toufayan, CEO of Toufayan Bakeries.


He noted that his company’s partnership with Combi Packaging Systems works to reduce labor getting cookie packs in cases and those cases stacked onto pallets. Toufayan’s other partnerships aid in the amount of labor needed in his bakeries to stack and wrap the cookies, with some solutions lessening labor needs by three people on a given shift.

D’Vine, based in Ferndale, MI, is on the rise and growing quickly, which means Abel’s equipment needs have changed too. With the growth of her cookie business, she’s looking to add additional flowwrappers, waterwheels, multihead depositors and more to ease operational and labor needs.

“We recently sourced another panner so that instead of having an operator take the cookies from the Vemag conveyor belt onto the pan, we get them to go right to the pan,” Abel said.

With the use of flowwrappers from Syntegon, as well as an indexing conveyor and a partnership with Reiser for sourcing depositing equipment, Abel is moving D’Vine toward further automation.

As the holiday season quickly approaches, Abel has focused on finding more staff and more equipment, especially as the company prepares to move into a new commercial facility with hopes of having up to six production lines in the new space. The fifth move in four and a half years, this transition has been long awaited and necessary for D’Vine. Abel anticipates growth for the company in the coming years.

“We’re hoping we can utilize the space for three years before we outgrow it,” she said. “I went much bigger than our current production model with anticipation of accounts that we have starting next year so that we won’t run into this space issue a year later.”

Despite the challenges facing the category, cookies continue to hold their own within the baking industry, and cookie producers are holding their own in keeping up.

This story has been adapted from the August| Q3 2022 issue of Commercial Baking. Read the full story in the digital edition here.