NightFood spearheads creation of a healthy late-night snack subcategory

By Elizabeth Crawford contact

- Last updated on GMT

NightFood spearheads creation of healthy late-night snack subcategory

Related tags: Nutrition

The makers of NightFood nutrition bars want to create a new subcategory of food that will help late-night snackers choose healthier options that could help them sleep better. 

About 69% of Americans snack in the late evening – often reaching for high energy, unhealthy treats like ice cream, cookies and chips that can make falling sleep difficult, Sean Folkson, founder of NightFood, said citing 2014 data from SymphonyIRI. 

“People who eat snacks like ice cream at night often aren’t refreshed when they wake up,”​ but they don’t understand that the snack kept them from sleeping well, Folkson said. Rather than reflecting on the cause of the poor sleep, many people grab a coffee, which represses their caloric intake so that when night falls again, they are in a food deficit that prompts them to reach for more unhealthy late night snacks – creating a vicious cycle, Folkson claimed.

NightFood Cookies N’ Dreams nutrition bars can help break this cycle by providing an indulgent-tasting, but better-for-you late night alternative to sugary snacks, Folkson said.

He explained that the bars are made with “sleep-friendly”​ ingredients, including 5 grams of fiber and slow-digesting carbs that will leave snackers full and satisfied through the night, but with only 140 calories, Folkson said. He added it also has 132 mg of calcium and is high in magnesium, which studies show aid sleep.

The bar, which is a dietary supplement but contains only ingredients that are approved for food use, also has 500 mg per serving of Chocamine – a branded cocoa-based ingredient from RFI, which claims it promotes satiety and helps calm and focus the mind.

Folkson explained that the unique benefits of Chocamine are well-suited for overly tired consumers whose minds are racing so fast when they go to bed that they are unable to fall or stay asleep easily.

What is not in the bar is just as important as what is, added Folkson. The bar is low in sodium, sugar and B vitamins, all of which Folkson claimed can keep people awake.

The bar also was reformulated to remove the sleep inducing dietary supplement ingredient melatonin because its presence often confused consumers and retailers, Folkson said. The product is categorized as a supplement because it originally had melatonin, and the company has not recategorized as a food since it was reformulated. 

He explained that some consumers didn’t like the melatonin because their snack craving often came hours before they wanted to go to bed, but the melatonin made them so sleepy that they couldn’t stay awake to do everything they wanted before bed. Likewise, retailers were unsure where to stock the bar – with some placing it in the sleep aid category and others in the snack aisle.

“We don’t want to be a sleep aid,”​ we want to be a healthy snack alternative with the potential added benefit of better sleep because it is replacing the energizing fat and sugar in many traditional late-night snacks, Folkson said.

He also emphasized that the bar is not aimed at adding more late night snackers to the category or encouraging people who do not already snack at night to start. Rather, it is aimed at helping people who already snack make healthier choices.

For this reason, the company is focusing less on the specific product formulation and more on finding a solution to the problem of late night snacks that keep people awake or lead to obesity.

To better develop that solution, Folkson said he hopes to expand the product portfolio of NightFood to include healthier alternatives to cookies, chips and other popular late night foods.

“If we can show enough people want nighttime-friendly snacks”​ then retailers will start grouping them together for easier shopping and create a new category that will boost sales, Folkson said.

NightFood is nudging consumers in this direction primarily through social media advertising, which Folkson said allows the company to better identify and target specific segments of consumers who are well-suited for buying NightFood.

It also hopes soon to break into traditional supermarket, were it will have more mainstream visibility than it does currently in the specialized nutrition stores in which it is currently sold. Once that happens, Folkson said it is only a matter of time before consumers demand more health late night snack options and NightFood becomes a break out brand. 

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