Twinkies officially returned to US shelves on July 15, with some outlets stocking them earlier over the weekend. New owners Apollo Group and C. Dean Metropoulos & Co have launched a mega marketing campaign with the tagline ‘the sweetest comeback in the history of ever’ – generating plenty of nationwide interest in the infamous snack cake.
With the comeback, the new owners have been toying with several novel product ideas; one being a gluten-free variant of the Twinkie.
“They haven’t ruled out making a gluten-free Twinkie… They’ve thrown a bunch of ideas up in the air,” said Matthew Hudak, packaged food analyst at Euromonitor International.
“The idea that they could make an indulgent gluten-free cake is interesting. The gluten-free market has an audience that would love to have something that tastes better,” Hudak told BakeryandSnacks.com.
Health appeal to gluten-free trend?
In the US, while there are 1 in 100 consumers with celiac disease, a large proportion of consumers interested in gluten-free products are doing so because of gluten intolerances or the perception that a gluten-free diet is healthier.
Hudak said that a gluten-free Twinkie would not only appeal to celiacs who have no other alternative, but also consumers who have chosen gluten-free for perceived health reasons.
“Even healthier consumers like indulgence. The new Twinkie owners could make it at the very least something that consumers eat as a very occasional, indulgent snack,” he said.
It must emulate the real Twinkie though…
However, if a new gluten-free Twinkie is launched, it would need to emulate the Twinkies already on shelf, Hudak warned. “They really have to try and nail that as best they can.”
There’s a real opportunity to develop a gluten-free, indulgent cake for the US market, he said, as big players like Udi’s and Glutino are more focused on the bagel and bread sectors.
Aside from developing a gluten-free variant, Hudak said bite size options would also be a “clever move” for the Twinkie.
“Bite size or snack size portions make sense for calorie counting and sharing – this would be another smart move,” he said.