While pantry stocking drove cookie sales in 2020, eating occasions are the primary driver this year.

“Traditionally, cookies were enjoyed in the afternoon or evening, but today, consumers are eating them during all dayparts, and especially as people have been confined to their homes,” said Sally Lyons Wyatt, executive vice president and practice leader, client insights, IRI. “Producers are responding with cookies that appeal to consumer needs throughout the day, whether an indulgent pleasure or a BFY cookie with health benefits.”

In Baking & Snack’s trends report in its April issue, Ms. Lyons Wyatt emphasized that most consumers sought comfort foods and nostalgia to cope with the pandemic and its related stress, but those people who always eat gluten-free or low-carb did not stop that eating behavior but merely paused it. To blend comfort with health attributes, HighKey recently expanded its portfolio of low-carb products with 10 new baked snacks and confections. Its new cookie offerings feature Chocolate Chip Mini Biscotti, Wafer Cookies, Vanilla Shortbread Mini Cookies and Salted Caramel Mini Cookies.

“When consumers go on diets, they have FOMO or the fear of missing out,” said Joe Ens, co-chief executive officer, HighKey, Bellingham, Wash. “On our packaging, we say, ‘FOMO NO MO.’”

HighKey’s new products are keto-friendly, with up to 4 grams of net carbohydrates per serving. The items are also free from gluten, grains and added sugar. In the cookie category, the new normal is starting to look like it did before the pandemic in more ways than one.