Bob Tullio’s Product Perspective: Sara Lee Mini Cheesecakes deliver brand strength for micro market operators

Feb. 3, 2021
A closer look at products, equipment and services that will impact an operator’s business

The product: Sara Lee Mini Cheesecakes – pure indulgence from a powerful brand in a perfect format for micro markets.

When I tasted the Sara Lee Mini Cheesecake sample, it was like going home again. I grew up on Sara Lee cheesecakes with strawberries. The rich and creamy flavor, along with the lively cookie crust, has been etched into my memory over the years.

Original proprietary recipe

Sara Lee Mini Cheesecakes (3.5 inches across) are now available to micro market operators, made from Sara Lee’s own proprietary cheesecake recipe, but now in a format that is perfect for grab-and-go markets. This popular treat is available in three flavors:

  • The Original Plain Cheesecake with a graham cracker cookie crust (3.25-oz.).
  • The Salted Carmel Truffle Cheesecake with a chocolate cookie crust (3.45-oz.).
  • The Strawberry Cheesecake with a vanilla cookie crust. Coming in March, it is expected to be the No. 1 seller.

Best new product of 2020

Sara Lee’s launch into the micro market channel comes after a year of huge success for Sara Lee Mini Cheesecakes in the foodservice and retail world. CSP Magazine’s Retailers’ Choice Awards recognized the mini cheesecakes for their success in convenience stores, giving them the award for Best New Product of 2020.

Strong c-store and foodservice debut

John Dourson, national sales manager for alternative channels at Sara Lee Frozen Bakery, said that the success of the mini cheesecakes in convenience stores bodes well for micro market operators. “You walk into a convenience store, it's not like they're hurting for dessert options, there's a million of them, but our product is unique, with incredible brand strength behind it,” said Dourson. “The growth trajectory for convenience stores is impressive and we see the same thing happening in micro markets.”  

According to Sharon Frisch, senior customer marketing manager at Sara Lee, the mini cheesecakes have enjoyed “some of the biggest distribution we have seen for a new product on the foodservice side.” Frisch added that the size of the individually wrapped product is perfect – exactly what consumers are looking for right now, especially in a grab-and-go environment.

Trending in the right direction

Sara Lee Mini Cheesecakes are well positioned as the No. 1 selling cheesecake in retail. Industry studies point to a 5% growth of cheesecake sales in foodservice during 2020, despite the obvious downturn in restaurants. Clearly, cheesecake is trending upward, now appearing on 33% of all restaurant menus.

There is a demographic component to consider, as well. Because of the nostalgia factor, it is anticipated that Sara Lee Mini Strawberry Cheesecake will be the No. 1 seller when it is released in March, as the appeal is strong for people who grew up with that brand on their dessert table. “Millennials and Gen Z definitely love the Salted Caramel Truffle Cheesecake, a flavor profile that has become popular with younger consumers,” said Dourson. “The original plain cheesecake appeals to everyone.”

From dessert to snack

Traditionally seen as a dessert, Sara Lee Mini Cheesecakes have transcended into a snack item. “That is exactly what is happening in convenience stores and it is certainly the case when the product is offered in a micro market,” said Dourson. “Today’s younger consumers are less traditional and will eat what they want, when they want it,” he said. “Today’s micro market customers look at it like this: "I'm hungry, that cheesecake is delicious – I have a break at 10:45 a.m. I'm going to enjoy it.”

Bob’s Perspective: Why Sara Lee Mini Cheesecakes make sense for operators

Having operated micro markets, I compare Sara Lee Mini Cheesecakes to the highly indulgent specialty ice cream treats that we incorporated into our locations. Our micro market users were openly excited about those products and consumed them throughout the day. Price was never a concern and those premium frozen treats were much pricier than these mini cheesecakes, which are reasonably priced and offer operators an excellent margin.

Yes – I am a big fan

It should be obvious by now that I am a fan of the Sara Lee Mini Cheesecakes! There are plenty reasons (beyond nostalgia) to believe in this product.

Track record » Sara Lee is the No. 1 retail cheesecake

The Sara Lee brand » As Dourson points out, “Sara Lee has the brand strength of Mars or Nestlé. It is powerful.”

Demographics » The flavors are right on trend, accommodating the preferences of younger consumers (Salted Caramel Truffle) and older consumers (Strawberry and Plain).

Packaging » Perfectly executed for on-the-go snacking.

Shelf life » Thaw and serve with a 7-day refrigerated shelf life.

Better for you indulgence » While nobody will accuse Sara Lee Mini Cheesecakes of being health food, the company has wisely cleaned up the ingredients with no colors from artificial sources, no artificial flavors and no high fructose corn syrup. Sara Lee Mini Cheesecakes are made with real cream cheese, real fruit and natural flavors.

A well-deserved indulgence

After extensive taste testing (somebody had to do it), I am happy to report that Sara Lee’s new Mini Cheesecakes are still an indulgence not to be missed. After a year like 2020, we can all use a little indulgence and Sara Lee is here to help – especially if you are a micro market operator.

For more information about Sara Lee Mini Cheesecakes, contact:
 John Dourson | National Sales Manager | Alternative Channels
[email protected] or (513) 310-9004

About Bob Tullio

Industry consultant and contributing editor Bob Tullio ( is a content specialist who advises operators in the convenience services industry on how to build a successful business from the ground up. Tullio recently launched a YouTube channel, b2b Perspective, designed to “elevate your business in two minutes” and is currently developing an online course, Leverage the power of LinkedIn to grow your business.

As he is a recognized industry expert in business development and sales, NAMA retained him to write and narrate the new online course, “Selling Convenience Services,” which is now available. Use discount code B2B10 for an instant discount and for free access to upcoming Q&A webinars from Tullio in the coming months. Here is a free sample of the course.


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