Q&A: Otis Spunkmeyer gets rid of 'funky stuff' in frozen cookie dough line

by Anna Wiber
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Otis Spunkmeyer's frozen cookie dough line, Supreme Indulgence, underwent a clean label transformation in November 2017.

SAN LEANDRO, CALIF. — The shift to clean label has not come easily to veteran food manufacturers. Reformulating classic products seems to offer more risk than reward, as consumers are quick to write off a company that doesn’t meet their taste standards. 

But this balancing act has been gracefully executed by the 40-year-old Otis Spunkmeyer brand that has rolled out multiple product lines that removed the “funky stuff”— artificial flavors and colors, high-fructose corn syrup and partially hydrogenated oils — and kept the flavors consumers expect.  

Jonathan Davis, senior vice-president of R.&D., Aryzta
After working closely with its R.&D. team and partnering with the right suppliers, Otis Spunkmeyer unveiled a reformulated version of its frozen cookie dough line, Supreme Indulgence, which includes 14 varieties.  

Speaking with Baking & Snack, Jonathan Davis, senior vice-president of R.&D., Aryzta, discussed how Otis Spunkmeyer achieved its clean label goals for the line and its plans for the future. 

Baking & Snack: Why did Otis Spunkmeyer reformulate its frozen cookie dough line, Supreme Indulgence? 

Jonathan Davis: The Supreme Indulgence portfolio has long been one of Otis Spunkmeyer’s most beloved frozen cookie dough lines, and we wanted to make these foods even better by removing certain ingredients while keeping the same great taste. The idea of enhancing the flavors of these foods by removing ingredients like artificial flavors, colors, partially hydrogenated oils and high fructose corn syrup was an opportunity that we were excited to work on.  

What steps did Otis Spunkmeyer take to reformulate the product? 

Mr. Davis: In order to reformulate the portfolio, we examined all of the ingredients and evaluated the best way to make changes while keeping the quality of the portfolio the same. We added ingredients like 100% sweet cream grade AA butter, real chocolate made from cocoa butter, real vanilla, sweet California raisins and unbleached flour.

Were any challenges encountered while reformulating this line?

Mr. Davis: When it comes to reformulation, one of the biggest challenges is working with the right partners. We looked to find partners who shared our desire to create great tasting foods with better ingredients that would adhere to Otis Spunkmeyer’s “No Funky Stuff” promise. After we found the best partner, we worked together through a number of recipe tests to make sure the foods retained the quality taste that originally made Otis Spunkmeyer famous, despite the fact that we had significantly changed the recipe.

Were there any unexpected costs involved in the process?

Mr. Davis: There are always costs involved when undergoing a significant reformulation, especially when it involves an entire lineup of foods, like the Supreme Indulgence portfolio, but we were willing to take this on in order to provide the best foods for our customers.


If hoping to achieve a clean label, what should bakers consider before they get started? 

Mr. Davis: Clean label foods are made without artificial flavors and chemicals, so before a reformulation takes place, bakers should consider what ingredients will be needed to adhere to the clean label definition, whether it’s unbleached flour, real vanilla or other non-G.M.O. ingredients. There are different strategies and approaches that go into reformulating certain foods, and while some require less ingredient changes, bakery and snack items require a lot of thought, planning and testing before undertaking a reformulation.

How can bakers ensure products will meet consumer expectations after reformulating for clean label? 

Mr. Davis: While there’s no way to ensure reformulation will meet consumers’ expectations, bakers must work closely with their R.&D. team to ensure that the ingredient changes will not affect the overall flavor and quality of the food. Despite the fact that consumers are gravitating toward clean label foods, they’re demanding and will not sacrifice taste. People love Otis Spunkmeyer because our cookies taste like they were made right at home, and the research and development team kept this top-of-mind throughout our reformulation process.

How have consumers responded to the reformulated product? 

Mr. Davis:
The Supreme Indulgence portfolio completed its reformulation in November, and so far, we’ve gotten an overwhelmingly positive reaction from our customers. So much so, that we’ve already started reformulating some of our other food service portfolios. We have started reformulating some of our popular food service lines, including our Sweet Discovery portfolio, which is the No.1 selling frozen cookie dough in America. Currently, seven of our foods in this portfolio have been reformulated to adhere to the “No Funky Stuff” promise, and we’re excited to continue to provide our customers with great tasting, better-for-you foods. 
 
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