Ever crave the snacks you had when you were a kid? Many millennials are now young adults who are yearning for a part of their childhood while trying to stay conscious of their health and wellbeing. Stemming from this “nostalgia”, we’re seeing a clear trend in the CPG industry towards the return of many classic childhood snacks but with a healthier twist. In fact, many brands and businesses are finding success within the millennial market and reinventing old favorites to capture more sales.
Looking for ideas to jumpstart your next big snack startup? Here are 8 nostalgic yet healthy snack ideas.
1. Rice Crispy Treats
Since the start of the pandemic, rice crispy treats have seen an increase in sales nationwide. They’ve also been trending on social media platforms. The healthy twist to rice crispies comes in the form of healthy alternatives to traditional ingredients. These include plant-based sweeteners, such as allulose, erythritol, monk fruit, and stevia. The use of these all-natural sweeteners allows consumers to reduce their overall sugar and carbohydrate intake. Brands are also adding high-quality protein powders and MCT oil to their rice crispy treats to provide a nutritious treat rich in protein and healthy fats. This new take on ingredients offers millennials a much healthier way to indulge in this classic childhood snack.
2. Cereal Puffs
Nothing is as nostalgic for young adults as a delicious bowl of cereal: Think back to those days when you munched on a bowl of Cocoa Puffs or Lucky Charms right before you headed out for school. Back then, the large amount of added sugars was of no concern, but nowadays, this amount of sugar is no longer acceptable to millennials. Brands that are looking to offer keto cereal - or healthier versions of cereal - should make use of plant-based sweeteners, whey protein powders, traditional flour alternatives like coconut flour or almond flour, and all-natural non-GMO flavors to accommodate those who are on keto, paleo, and vegan diets. You can even one up yourself and add real fruits for added sweetness and to make your cereal stand out from the others.
3. Soda Pops
Did you know that soda can be healthy? Traditionally packed with high amounts of unhealthy sugars, we are seeing brands reinvent soda and carbonated drinks with innovative, better-for-you ingredients. In fact, the market for healthy carbonated drinks has been on the up and up for years now. Brands like Health-Ade and Olipop are incorporating all-natural flavorings, sweeteners, fiber, and probiotic elements into their soda pops and carbonated beverages for a healthier kick that supports your immune system, gut, and more. Often coming in colorful packaging, healthy soda pops are becoming the drink of choice for millennials again, making it a great opportunity for smaller CPG brands.
4. Chips and Crisps
Chips are a childhood favorite no matter who you ask; if you were to ask a millennial what their favorite chips are, you’ll hear answers like hot cheetos, cheese puffs, barbecue potato chips, sour cream and onion chips, and more. As a convenient, on-the-go snack option, the chip industry has experienced constant growth; however, like most of its millennial peers, it is experiencing an “image change”. Healthy chips might not sound as appetizing, but thanks to the rise in food science and keto-friendly ingredients - such as whey, pea, almond, and collagen powders, as well as much healthier oils like coconut and avocado - these innovative chips can offer a much better nutritional profile compared to the traditional chips we grew up with. Millennials can now satisfy their desire for healthier chips with all the original nostalgic flavors without relying on the infamous “veggie chips”.
5. Toaster Pastries
Made famous by Kellogg’s in the early ’60s, toaster pastries are experiencing a revival in this era of “better-for-you” snacks. Many brands are taking the nostalgic qualities of this snack and enhancing them with more nutritious, real-food ingredients. Due to new and advanced R&D processes and equipment, healthy toaster pastries are now being formulated for the most popular specialty diets: low-carb, low-sugar, high protein, plant-based, keto, and paleo. We predict that toaster pastries will continue to gain momentum in the upcoming years and become a staple breakfast snack once again.
Remember those Hostess® donuts you used to eat as a kid? Well, with the right ingredients and co-manufacturing partner, you can recreate them with a healthy twist! Remove the high levels of sugar and unhealthy fats from the equation and replace them with gluten-free ingredients, adaptogens, proteins, and superfoods to capture the health-conscious millennial market. Up-and-coming brands are also using avocado oil instead of canola oil to fry their innovative donuts to add nutritional value. In fact, because avocado oil has a high smoke point, you won’t have to worry about it potentially changing the taste or flavor of your donut.
Another classic childhood treat and arguably the snack with the most stable success, cookies have always been and always will be a popular snack among both children and adults. As consumers become more aware of their dietary habits and nutritional needs, many brands have reinvented their cookie selection to fit the new demand. They are introducing healthier cookie alternatives by incorporating all-natural sweeteners, anti-inflammatory ingredients, protein powders, and gluten-free ingredients to add nutritional value to an old favorite. Imagine indulging in a chocolate chip cookie that is sweet while being “good-for-you” - now, that’s a snack millennials would enjoy.
If executed correctly, nostalgia can be one of the most powerful marketing tools your brand can utilize this year to capitalize on the sentimentality of millennials. Entrepreneurs and snack startups need to start thinking of innovative ways to reintroduce nostalgic snacks while formulating them to be healthy. To help you get started, think about partnering with snack manufacturers that have the capabilities and certifications to bring your ideas to life at scale. Brands that are able to work with the right protein bar co-packing partner will be able to stay relevant and ahead of the fray in a growing CPG space.