Adding a crunchy texture to the fillings of classic French crepes creates a point of differentiation in the crowded retail arena.

Trends at both ends

For every trend, there’s a counter trend. Often they are two heads of the same coin — seemingly opposites that go hand-in-hand under the mega-trend of healthy living. Think paleo and vegan that co-exist today.

“There are some extremes in our diet that range from avoiding meat to totally embracing it,” Mr. Vierhile said.

Or just look at protein, which includes everything from peas and nuts to beef and whey. Nearly half of consumers eat a form of protein with every meal, according to a recent survey by marketing firm Nielsen. However, some companies are repackaging protein in snack form, Mr. Vierhile said. At Natural Products Expo East, Wilde Brands featured chicken chips —  from free-range chicken breasts and thighs — in jalapeño, barbecue and sea salt flavors. According to the Boulder, Colo.-based company, these meat snacks, which become available nationally in February, bring protein into a more mainstream, munchable format.

Perhaps the biggest counter trend is more “added sugar.” That’s right. It’s “sugar revenge,” as Mr. Vierhile put it.

“I’m kind of bored to death with clean label, ancient grains have been done to death, and gluten-free has no news value whatsoever today,” he said. “Hostess Cotton Candy-flavored Twinkies flies in the face of current worries. This could be a trend as it seems the cereal-makers are going the same route — throwing caution to the wind.”

Just look at the continued popularity of donuts and, as Mr. Vierhile noted, the success that Hostess Brands has experienced over the past few years since it emerged from the depths of bankruptcy. The public company continues to reinvent itself beyond the snack aisle with deep-fried Twinkies and Molten Lava Ding Dongs in the freezer case and the 17-oz honkin’ big Twinkie as the Kansas City-based sweet goods producer channel-surfs into the in-store bakery arena. This year, the company also rolled out cinnamon sugar crunch Donettes, chocolate peanut butter Twinkies, peanut butter Ho Hos and white fudge Ding Dongs, to name a few. 

As far as cereal, just look at Trix and how it’s gone back to its glory days of artificial neon colors — away from the drab natural ones. Maybe General Mills remembered the silly rabbit always said, “Trix are for kids.”

But then again, it could be yet another seismic shift — one that’s not friendly to the baking and snack industries — that’s fueling a lot of these movements.

“The bigger trend is that sugar has been the villain for a while — sort of like the clown in the recent horror movie It,” Mr. Vierhile said. “I think carbohydrates are emerging as the next villain. It’s not a good development for the bread industry, but if you look at overall food trends, a lot of them are headed away from carbohydrates.”