KANSAS CITY — In a year of chaos and uncertainty amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, consumers are turning to nostalgic flavors for comfort. One flavor taking a big slice of the retail market is birthday cake, which is showing up in everything from cereal to popcorn to coffee creamer.

“In the indulgent flavor space, childhood-inspired flavors are trending, as these profiles are associated with happiness, positive taste memories and childhood bliss,” said Philip Caputo, marketing and consumer insights manager for flavors firm Virginia Dare. “The positive emotions associated with these flavors can positively affect mood, therefore increasing motivation, energy and confidence.”

For instance, Hometown Food Co. in August plans to launch Funfetti cereal, featuring a birthday cake flavor and colorful sprinkles.

“We are in a period right now where people are finding comfort in trusted brands that bring back wonderful memories,” said Dan Anglemyer, chief operating officer of Hometown Food, which owns the rights to Pillsbury's shelf-stable baking products, including Funfetti. “Over the past 30 years, Funfetti fans have baked up colorful moments for birthdays, baby showers, graduations, weddings and more. The possibilities of Funfetti are endless. This new cereal is a testament to our commitment of discovering innovative ways the Funfetti experience can continue to be a part of special moments both big and small. If you're going to indulge in a morning breakfast, there is no better way to celebrate than with a bowl of Funfetti cereal.”

Food manufacturers also are finding ways to tailor the birthday cake flavor for adults, bringing it to better-for-you offerings.

Magic Spoon in April added a limited-edition birthday cake flavor to its line of better-for-you breakfast cereals. Featuring a frosted vanilla cake flavor with colorful confetti sprinkles, the gluten-free offering is sweetened with allulose, monk fruit extract and steviol glycosides.

“Consumers are increasingly seeking out foods and flavors that bring back fond childhood memories.” — Kroger Co.

“We created Magic Spoon to help people embrace their inner child and bring back all the nostalgia we loved about cereal as kids, while upgrading the experience to meet our healthy core values,” said Gabi Lewis, co-founder of Magic Spoon.

Conagra Brands, Inc.’s Duncan Hines brand in January introduced a new line of treats customized to those seeking keto-friendly indulgences. The single-serve Keto Friendly Cups are available in a birthday cake flavor, made with almond flour, coconut flour, dried egg whites and rainbow sprinkles and sweetened with allulose.

“People following a keto-friendly diet still want to enjoy delicious sweet treats, and we’re excited to provide them with satisfying new options,” said Audrey Ingersoll, senior director at Duncan Hines. “Our new cake cups deliver the warmth and indulgence you expect from Duncan Hines with a recipe that’s on trend with contemporary diets.”

Nostalgic flavors are forecast to continue growing in retail innovation this year, according to the Kroger Co.’s 2020 food trends report, and birthday cake will keep burgeoning.

“Consumers are increasingly seeking out foods and flavors that bring back fond childhood memories,” Kroger said. “New foods will continue to be added to grocery shelves that deliver nostalgic flavors in a reimagined way—charming customers of all ages and generations.”

View slideshow of new birthday cake flavored products.