Rise of snackable marshmallows shows the vitality of the sweet snacking concept
Sugar may be public health enemy number one, but emerging interest in snackable marshmallows suggests that the desire to satisfy the proverbial "sweet tooth" may well endure beyond whatever anti-sugar legislation governments can cook up.
Resistance is futile. Humans are hard-wired to love sugar, so why fight it? Sweets innovators have a clever new way to satisfy that sweet tooth with "snackable marshmallows." This everyday snack did not exist in any meaningful way before the August 2016 introduction of SmashMallow snackable marshmallows from California-based Sonoma Brands.
The brainchild of former Krave jerky founder Jon Sebastiani, SmashMallow was inspired by bakeries in Paris that showcase decadent marshmallows alongside macarons and other gourmet treats. Sebastiani thought that a more healthful version of those treats might "revitalize the sleepy sweets category." SmashMallow premium snackable marshmallows try to do that with an "all-natural" treat clocking in at around 80 calories per four-marshmallow serving. While it sounds counterintuitive to call a snack "guilt-free" that lists organic cane sugar as its first ingredient, SmashMallow pushes portion control as well as a lack of fat and gluten.
After just a few months on the market, SmashMallow has inspired others to sense an opportunity in permissible snacking. Hammond's Brands from Denver, Colorado is launching Mellow Fluffs, which are handmade, snackable marshmallows in "fun flavors" like toasted coconut marshmallow, birthday cake, key lime pie, and vanilla bean. Each serving has just 100 calories. The brand debuts in March 2017.
Artisan marshmallow maker Madyson's Marshmallows of Utah is also weighing in with six new flavors of handcrafted, gourmet marshmallows including pink peppermint, cinnamon and sugar, and toasted coconut. With a suggested retail price of $6.95 per 4 oz. bag, Madyson’s Marshmallows is priced above Smashmallow (SRP $3.95 per 4.5 oz. bag) or Mellow Fluffs (SRP $3.99 per 4 oz. bag) and is also higher in calories. With 50-60 calories per piece, Madyson’s is clearly an indulgence, but a limit of six pieces per bag helps cap overindulgence concerns.
The Marshmallowist, based in the UK, is another snackable marshmallow pioneer to watch. Founded in 2011, the company is famous for its unexpected flavors like blueberry and gin or strawberry and basil marshmallows, all of which are egg-free, dairy-free, and gluten-free – potential draws for consumers with specific food intolerance issues.
Market success for snackable marshmallows may depend on where retailers decide to shelve them. One area SmashMallow is keen to avoid is the baking aisle, the usual home of bagged marshmallows. Success may also depend on how sugar concerns impact consumer interest. A Q4 2016 GlobalData consumer survey found that 53% of global consumers say they agree that they actively choose food products with low/no sugar contents. Concern rises with age; 42% of 18–24 year-olds agree that they do this versus 60% of over-65s.