This Cult-Favorite Brand Is Quietly Winning the Snack Game

This Cult-Favorite Brand Is Quietly Winning the Snack Game

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Elizabeth Licata
Aug 17, 2018
(Image credit: The Kitchn)

You can't go to a children's museum, a library story time, or even a Target without hearing the familiar crinkle of someone opening a bag of Annie's snacks. Instinctively, kids pop up like prairie dogs to see what kind of treat is being opened. Is it fruit snacks? Bunny puffs? Cheddar bunnies? I see more bunnies than goldfish at the playground these days, and Annie's folksy rabbit logo is everywhere.

Fact: Annie's Homegrown is definitely winning the snack game. Here's why.

(Image credit: Annie's)

1. Annie's appeals to all ages.

"It is literally omnipresent in most homes," says Melissa Abbott, vice president of culinary insights for The Hartman Group, a company that follows and reports on trends in the food industry. It's not just children that are eating Annie's, either.

Plenty of adults are hoarding Annie's snacks for themselves — whether or not they have kids in the house. (In fact, Annie's Cheddar Bunnies and Snack Mix are mainstays in the Apartment Therapy Media staff kitchen!) Parents buy Annie's for their kids because the snacks are as kid-friendly and convenient as other brands, but don't have artificial or unfamiliar ingredients. Then those kids grow up and want the same comfort foods and treats that they had when they were children. Annie's is one of the original natural food brands, and it has actually been around long enough (since 1989!) that it has become that nostalgic treat for a lot of adults.

Annie's took two (two!) spots on our Kitchen 100 list, a collection of groceries that currently have us super excited. See the full list here!

2. Annie's snacks feel like a break from processed foods.

"At some point there was a shift in American culture towards fresher, less processed foods," Abbott says. "And Annie's was right there with that handful of products that were able to speak to American food culture in a way that was a great transition from what was being perceived as more processed."

Part of what makes Annie's so successful is that people see it as trustworthy, specifically because it's a natural food brand that's been around for so many years.

"It's been around longer than the trend," says retail advisor Jennifer Stanton. "Even if you didn't jump on the organic, non-GMO craze, you've seen Annie's in the supermarket. It's considered reliable, and it's not something that you've never heard of."

(Image credit: Annies Fruit Snacks)

3. Annie's products are made with organic ingredients.

Bunny Grahams are basically tiny cookies, and fruit snacks might not actually be that much different than gummy bears, but Annie's is winning the snack game by giving people an option that feels slightly better than those other treats. Shoppers feel that, with Annie's products, "there's less junky ingredients than with other brands," Abbott says.

"It really represents this, it-still-has-sugar-but-it's-better-than-candy mindset," she explains. "Or [the idea that] it's better than a fruit snack that might have dubious ingredients in it."

4. All the bunnies!

Annie's snacks are convenient and tasty, but the power of cuteness cannot be underestimated, and Annie's snacks are downright adorable.

"Everything that can be shaped like a bunny is a bunny: the biscuits, the cookies, the crackers, the things that look like gummy bears but aren't," says Stanton. "They're super cute, so it's just more fun."

5. Annie's feels like a small mom-and-pop company.

Stanton also says Annie's hasn't been, "over-marketed," in that the company's products don't feel like they come from a slick, sophisticated corporation. For example, Annie's snack boxes have a "rabbit of approval" seal, and a word-search game that asks kids to find the "friendly words," like "compromise," "cooperate," and "hug." That cute, folksy aesthetic gives Annie's products an air of trustworthy authenticity. It feels like you're buying organic snacks from a small company, even though Annie's has been owned by General Mills since 2014.

"I think it's the sort of down-home cuteness about it," Stanton said. "Like you're getting it from your neighbor who's a hippie."

At the end of the day, it's really about convenience. People value convenience, and a package of bunnies is every bit as easy to eat and carry as a candy bar. But Annie's also has ingredients people recognize and a hippie food halo that makes people feel good about putting it in their grocery carts.

And the bunnies are pretty darn cute.

Our Favorite Annie's Snacks

Do you love Annie's as much as we do?

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