sweets & snacks expo 2016

News from 2016 Sweets & Snacks Expo: Hydrox Cookies are back with a vengeance

By Mary Ellen Shoup

- Last updated on GMT

Owned by Leaf Brands, Hydrox Cookies now has nationwide distribution.
Owned by Leaf Brands, Hydrox Cookies now has nationwide distribution.

Related tags Supermarket Hypermarket Wal-mart

Cookie brand Hydrox - which was axed in 1999 - has returned to the US market in a big way with listings in Kroger and Walmart stores.

Hydrox was acquired by Leaf Brands from former owner The Keebler Company in the early 2000s, in quest by CEO Ellia Kassoff to bring back “America’s Original” crème-filled chocolate sandwich cookie.

Since then, Hydrox Cookies have been reappearing on store shelves again, and Kroger started stocking Hydrox in all its 2,600 sites nationwide in the US. From this month, the cookies will be available in Walmart stores, Kassoff told this site.

Lack of competition

When Hydrox exited the market, it created a void on supermarket shelves throughout the US that left stores and consumers fewer choices, said Kassoff at the 2016 Sweets & Snacks Expo in Chicago this week.

“There was no competition anymore. It was either store brand or Oreo, and I remembered how good Hydrox was and turned to my dad and said, ‘I’m bringing them back,’”​ he added.

Kassoff says most of the other brands were “trying to be like Oreo,”​ which he believed was a fruitless business endeavor as there was no point of differentiation for the consumer except for the price.

Core following

Positive reception to Hydrox Cookies came quickly, according to Kassoff, but the product needed to be exactly the same in order for that to happen.

“Whenever we bring back old products, we have to make sure it’s exactly the way people remember,”​ Kassoff said, adding that the Leaf Brand Hydrox Cookies are made in the US with a darker chocolate and 'real sugar'.

The sandwich cookies had gone through years of reformulation when owned by Sunshine and later Keebler. The recipe had at one point been altered to be sweeter by adding high fructose sweetener and the name was briefly changed to “Droxies” ​in an effort to appeal to children.

“It was a lot of egos thinking they could do something better with it,”​ Kassoff said. “But in doing so they made product that was no longer a real thing.”

Older generations drive popularity

Parents and grandparents are the core audience for Hydrox Cookies, helping introduce the product to younger generations.

“What’s interesting about our products, and is very unusual, is that the influencer is the parents and grandparents. They’re the ones bringing it into the house,”​ Kassoff said. 

Leaf Brands has also brought back other nostalgia products such as cone-shaped Astro Pops and Tart n’ Tinies.

Related topics Manufacturers Snacks Diversification

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