KANSAS CITY, MO — As schools return to in-person learning, the long-held tradition of lunchtime treat trading remains, with the ever-valuable snack cake continuing its reign in cafeterias across the country.

Not to mention, with an uptick in travel for all ages and a spike in snacking culture driven by the COVID-19 pandemic, consumer interest in snack cakes aligns with rising interest in individually wrapped, convenient snacks. Tiny but mighty, the sweet goods in this category have seen steady loyalty — and growth — from consumers, even in the face of further challenges like inflation.


Lenexa, KS-based Hostess Brands has seen this continued interest in snack cakes and a rise in snacking to further its portfolio and accommodate for a wider range of consumer interests. Known for its host of products that induce nostalgia and fix a craving for something sweet, the company has not only expanded its offerings in unique ways but also played off its own creations to spur the next snack cake innovation.

“We know consumers increasingly are looking for snackable, shareable treats that offer a sweet reward without a mess,” said Tina Lambert, VP of the Marketing Center of Excellence for Hostess. “We saw an opportunity to reimagine and recreate some of our most-loved snacks and turn them into a new format that can easily be packed along for on-the-go snacking or placed in a lunch box for a surprise moment of joy.”

Enter Hostess’ latest product: Bouncers. Designed to match current consumer needs and interests, the bite-size snack cakes pull inspiration from the brand’s most iconic products and flavors: original Twinkies, chocolate Ding Dongs and cinnamon Donettes. As a result, Hostess’ hybrid innovation provides consumers with a shareable, micro variation of a beloved product consumers already recognize in a new package that lends to the need for travel-friendly snacks.


Hostess has a history of creating variants of its products, whether it be seasonal offerings like Halloween-inspired chocolate CupCakes or pop-culture-influenced sweets like $TWINKcoin, its take on the rise of cryptocurrency with a classic Twinkie converted from its standard finger cake form to a medallion shape.

While snack cake category strongholds like Hostess retain their spot in lunchrooms and snack cabinets, emerging brands are also presenting convenient ways for consumers to feed their sweet tooth. New from across the pond, UK-based Mr. Kipling, a Premier Foods brand, has found its place in the snack aisle of Target retailers nationwide.

Currently, American consumers can choose between brightly decorated flavors including Vanilla; Lemon, which features the acidic citrus flavor from frosting to filling, and more. The individually wrapped cake slices fall in with American snack cakes by matching an increased demand for smaller pre-portioned products.


“We have heard from consumers that the individually wrapped packaging allows the product to stay fresher for longer and it helps their portion control,” said Diana Horwitz, US general manager for Premier Foods.

Premier Foods has also been able to balance product freshness and environmental impact with individual packaging. Through the pod packaging that envelops each cake slice in recyclable plastic, Horwitz noted, the company’s products can retain their quality while Premier Foods lessens its environmental impact.

Continuing issues from supply chain disruption and staffing shortages leave a bitter challenge for bakery manufacturers as they stretch operations thin to keep shelves stocked with their products. Lambert noted that like many others in the industry, supply chain problems and ingredient shortages have been tough to navigate.

“We’ve had to become more agile in the past few years to address external and internal challenges,” Lambert continued. “When we’ve encountered supply chain challenges sourcing certain ingredients, we’ve had to remain incredibly nimble on our production time. If we haven’t had a necessary ingredient on-hand to produce one snack, we’ve flipped our production lines to instead bake other snacks while we wait on the ingredients needed for others.”

This story has been adapted from the October | Q4 2022 issue of Commercial Baking. Read the full story in the digital edition here.