2013: Summer of Snacks

Despite the killjoy of early back-to-school promotions, it’s still summer, people!  Though Kmart’s “Yo Mama…”  back-to-school layaway video  is more entertaining than most of this season’s movie blockbusters,  don’t let it distract you from summer’s indulgent days of sunshine and…snacks. The hugely profitable U.S. ice cream industry has made snacking a summertime right and the headline-generating cronut, born on the cusp of summer, has, in turn, given birth to frozen s’mores.  

The season of permissible snacking is the perfect time for Hostess to relaunch Twinkies (the big launch is today, by the way). More than 75 percent of Americans are taking a summer vacation, according to Orbitz, so these conveniently travel-ready snacks rose from the dead through an early on-sale date with Wal-Mart and their “The Sweetest Comeback…in the history of Ever” campaign. Cronut, shmo-nut, Hostess’ use of the latest marketing innovations such as Facebook (445,000 likes so far!), a new website with a countdown clock and street teams handing out “Prepare Your Cake Face” t-shirts and “I saved the Twinkie” buttons smartly re-engages the very core fans who were crestfallen to (temporarily) lose their beloved Twinkies. The strategy also has the potential to introduce new fans to the Twinkie’s iconic heritage.

Other market-expanding snack-food strategies for revered brands include customized packaging and summer-themed varieties. Pepperidge Farms’ Goldfish crackers recently launched a customized Goldfish My Way program that enabled me to send my favorite little girl a full-sized bag of yellow and orange goldfish personalized with her name, a photograph and a message from me.  Pretty neat, right?  That’ll be $14, please (plus shipping).

And let’s not forget the esteemed Oreo. Milk’s Favorite Cookie came out with Watermelon and Birthday Cake variations, and my favorite foodie contends that the original black-and-white version is the bacon of sweet snack foods:  their addition to fro-yo toppings bars, Dairy Queen Blizzards and county fairs (deep-fried in pancake batter) inevitably improves upon the original product. It doesn’t hurt that Thomas Keller of Bouchon and Per Se fame attempted to improve on the Oreo with his “TKO” cookie recipe in his Bouchon Bakery cookbook. Expanding where snacks can play is also a winning strategy. 

So, enjoy the sweetness of summer, Mom & Dad, and save those celery and carrot sticks for school lunches!  

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