Otis Spunkmeyer no artificial ingredients
"No Funky Stuff" promises the absence of artificial colors and flavors, high-fructose corn syrup and partially hydrogenated oils.

True to its roots

Over the years, Otis Spunkmeyer has remained true to the personality of its brand. The playfulness at its roots is now part of the nostalgia that people identify with its foods.

In an age where throwback is the fashion and transparency is the rage, change has become inevitable for many food producers, and Otis Spunkmeyer is no exception. In fact, the company decided to rewrite the rules and develop No Funky Stuff foods: a commitment to remove all artificial colors and flavors, high-fructose corn syrup, and partially hydrogenated oils.

“Over the past 40 years, what’s really changed is the launch of No Funky Stuff,” Ms. Grace said. “We’ve taken this brand from where we started and made our foods even better.”

Developing the No Funky Stuff platform was far from an easy task; in fact, it was nothing short of a journey, according to Jonathan Davis, senior vice-president of R.&D. for Aryzta. And the brand, known for its ­whimsy, took this commitment quite seriously.

For Mr. Davis and his team, it wasn’t just about the ingredients; they went all the way to the sources. In fact, when it came to No Funky Stuff, nothing was safe from scrutiny. For example, the margarines and butter blends had to show the source of the beta carotene. “We had to work with our suppliers for a guaranteed commitment to this initiative to bring in natural sources, right down to that beta carotene,” he said.

The move to No Funky Stuff was about serving customers and consumers through change. “We wanted to change the conversation, change the level of our commitment” Mr. Davis said. “So when we say, ‘No artificial colors or flavors,’ we truly mean it.”

Cleaning up the label and removing the “funk” was only the first step in an almost two-year long endeavor. It’s one thing to seek out those free-from ingredients; finding those ingredients that can also function in the formula is something entirely different.

It’s important to note that while Otis Spunkmeyer changed the ingredients, the formula stayed the same. Because, for all this change, the taste had to remain unchanged. “We took out the funky stuff, but we’ll never substitute taste,” Ms. Grace said. “We will make sure we’re always the No. 1 tasting cookie.”

It wasn’t enough to eliminate the funky stuff. “From there, we had to make sure these ingredients performed the same way,” Mr. Davis recalled. “We constantly did testing, such as baking the foods, to ensure the spread was appropriate or the inclusions were right.”

Needless to say, it was a seemingly unending array of trial and error. “You have to prove every single ingredient individually before you can combine them,” Mr. Davis said. “We did a lot of bake tests just to make sure the ingredients performed not only in our test kitchen but also in our bakeries.”

Ultimately, formulating No Funky Stuff was a matter of carefully balancing ingredients that were natural, functional and economical … a task that could sometimes feel impossible. “It was exhausting to keep hitting roadblocks. But when you have partners who continue to say no, you recognize that they’re not the right partners,” Mr. Davis said. “Sometimes you just have to flex your muscle in order to change the way of thinking.”

The No Funky Stuff platform has moved beyond specific product placement and has permeated every facet of the Otis Spunkmeyer brand.