Guilt. Maybe it’s basic instinct or just a quirk of human nature for some people when it comes to eating dessert. But for Just Desserts, “guiltless” desserts aren’t in its DNA. After more than four decades, the San Francisco-based company remains focused on pure indulgence through its modern interpretations of classic American desserts. Yet for those who feel a bit of remorse after giving into temptation, the company may have stumbled onto the next best thing.
No regrets — as in “having your cake and eating it, too.” Just Desserts bakes from scratch using familiar ingredients, such as butter, whole eggs, cream cheese, real carrots for carrot cake and chocolate — up to 20% chocolate — in some of its top-selling products.
Just Desserts’ “no regrets” initiative also includes a growing line of single-serve treats and Brownie, Blondie, Muffin and Coffee Cake Bites, noted Michael Mendes, CEO and managing partner. In addition to providing portion and calorie control, the snackable bites allow the business to broaden its demographic base by attracting millennials, grab-and-go consumers and younger, smaller families. The bites also serve as an alternative to its full-sized cakes, which traditionally skew toward a more mature, affluent audience.
“If someone eats one of our bites, they feel satisfied,” said Craig Tokusato, who helps lead marketing efforts. “If they eat more than one, they’re simply enjoying the second bite with no regrets.”
Overall, he added, the “no regrets” promise is part of a much broader mission to create a sustainable platform that supports and expands Just Desserts’ presence in the competitive in-store bakery channel.
Since joining the company three years ago, Mr. Mendes and the “go to market” team spent hundreds of hours conferring with its in-store bakery customers — in addition to conducting custom research — to glean insights. The result is a comprehensive brand strategy that works on multiple levels through interrelated platforms.
Perhaps the biggest initiative involves rolling out packaged, thaw-and-serve organic and vegan sweet goods geared to in-store bakeries and, later this year, to the freezer section of grocery stores, according to Mr. Mendes.
When it comes to organic and vegan, he added, “no regrets” sometimes takes on a different meaning, especially if taste doesn’t match expectations. As a result, Just Desserts worked on countless variations of its organic and vegan formulas to make them just right.
It’s secret — chocolate — is a sinfully indulgent ingredient that works well in vegan formulations and hides a lot of transgressions. “When we were working on developing vegan recipes, chocolate helped a lot, and it was a very vegan-friendly ingredient to work with,” Mr. Tokusato said.
The company also uses ingredients like almond milk to substitute for dairy in its vegan chocolate cakes and cupcakes. While more expensive than the more common blend of coconut and other oils, almond milk helps make the moist vegan cake almost indistinguishable from conventional chocolate desserts, according to
To top it off, Just Desserts relies on hand-decorating to provide a personal touch. “When developing organic and vegan desserts, we at Just Desserts think about the trifecta of appearance, taste and texture,” Mr. Mendes explained. “Visual appeal is extremely important to appetite appeal. We work hard to make products that are attractive and in line with the high consumer taste expectations of our products.”
Read on to continue the tour.