Baking & Snack - December 2020 - 32

GLUTEN-FREE

" I LOVE THAT MY
DAUGHTER ENJOYS
GLUTEN-FREE PRETZELS
OR SOME OTHER
CRACKERS OUT THERE
NOT BECAUSE THEY'RE
GLUTEN-FREE BUT
BECAUSE THEY'RE JUST
A GOOD PRODUCT. "

Pam Cureton, Center for Celiac Research

Today's gluten-free
desserts are so
decadent that they
appeal to even
those consumers
who are not on a
restricted diet.
Ethel's Baking Co.

cause many products contain high levels of refined rice
or another alternative flour and starches as well as a low
amount of fiber.
" Weight gain is very common for our celiac patients, "
she said.
Handmade caramel, chocolate, raspberry jam and
fancy pecans add layers of flavor that go a long way
when creating dessert bars. Jill Bommarito, founder and
president of Ethel's Baking Co., Shelby Township, Mich.,
noted that its treats must pass the taste test for glutenfree and " gluten-full " consumers.
" We will not bring an item to market that is 'good for
gluten-free,' " Ms. Bommarito said. " It must be fantastic
and outperform traditional products in the same space. "
Ethel's small-batch specialty bars include such varieties as its signature Pecan Dandy that comes with a
shortbread butter crust and caramel that's topped with
large pecans.
Ms. Bommarito noted the company is " in this for the
long haul " with indulgent products that remain relevant
despite variations to diets and shifting consumer trends.
" We are here to be that special treat that grandma
would have made for you, " she said. " We have benefitted
from other specialty diets in that all are educating consumers, helping them become better label-readers and
helping them understand the calories they are investing
in. We believe Ethel's taste, clean ingredients, transparency and commitment to craft add value for consumers
that care about the food choices they make for themselves and their families. "
A three-pack of the dessert bars, or about 9 oz. of
product, has a suggested retail $8.99 to $9.99 while a
new single-serve bar goes for $2.99.
" The cost of our products is not a result of being gluten-free as much as due to the quality of nuts, butter and

chocolate, along with time being our largest ingredient, "
Ms. Bommarito said. " We won't compromise on taste. "
Mr. Pollak uses terms such as " transparent " and " trust "
to describe Mikey's products for people who follow a gluten-free or allergen-friendly diet. The strategy is to branch
beyond gluten-free with baked goods that offer clean labels, dense nutrition, variety and, of course, great taste.
" To the extent some people feel self-conscious or stigmatized eating restrictive diets, the growing popularity
of specialty diets is validating, " he said. " It makes glutenfree feel less 'medicinal.' The overlap of benefits - for
example, Mikey's English muffins are keto and paleo in
addition to being gluten-, grain-, dairy- and soy-free -
presents an opportunity to introduce allergen-friendly
eating to low-carb seekers. "
Mr. Pollak suggested that consumers who perceive
gluten-free as synonymous with better-for-you may be
disillusioned when they discover that removing gluten
does not add nutritional value.
" An educated consumer needs to be knowledgeable
about both diets and brands, " he said. " As Mikey's has
prioritized nutritional value and taste, educated consumers have become our most loyal customers. "
Ms. Cureton strongly suggested that consumers consult with a dietician or health professional to determine
whether a gluten-free, keto or any other diet is appropriate, if not only for their health and well-being but also
for their pocketbooks.
" There's no harm with eating gluten-free bread, except
for the price, " she said. " The manufacturers are helping
a specific population that desperately needs their products, and I'm very thankful that they're able to make
these products for people who need them. "
And yes, for those suffering from celiac disease, that's
more manna from heaven that they can enjoy.

*

32 Baking & Snack December 2020 / www.bakingbusiness.com

026_BS_Dec20_Trends.indd 32

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Baking & Snack - December 2020

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