Gen Z’s Favorite Snack and Candy Brands

By 
Brett Dworski, Associate Editor

gen z teenagers

NEW YORK – Nearly a fifth (19%) of Gen Z consumers’ favorite brands are snack and candy labels, according to a new study from syndicated research firm Ypulse.

The New York-based company interviewed more than 47,000 Gen Z consumers—those born in 2001 or later—to capture their perceptions of popular brands across various sectors, such as CPG, foodservice, TV, film, music and more. Ypulse launched the survey in January 2018.

And it wasn’t surprising to see dominant snack brands such as Doritos, Hershey's, Cheetos and Oreo among Gen Z's favorite brands, Bobby Calise, vice president of Ypulse, told Convenience Store Products.

“Oreo has been around 100 years—just about everyone's aware of the brand, has tried it and likes the taste,” he said. “I suspect there's also some cross-generational carryover that accounts for the continued success of these brands over decades."

He also foresees healthy snack bars emerging on this list in the future. “I'd predict that in a year we're likely to see bars—Clif, Kind and Epic—gain ground with Gen Z as they garner more awareness and healthier eating trends continue to increase,” he said.

Until then, the snacks and candies that appeal most among Gen Z range from chocolatey treats to crunchy, savory noshes. Here are Gen Z’s favorite snack and candy brands, according to Ypulse …

Photo: Shutterstock 

10. Kit Kat

kit kat minatures

The chocolate-covered wafer bar starts the top 10 in Gen Z’s favorite snack and candy brands. It’s been a strong year for Kit Kat; earlier this summer, the candy bar got on track to start producing volume in this year’s fourth quarter and showed signs of becoming a key enabler of Hershey’s—Kit Kat’s owner in the United States—2019 growth, said Patricia Little, senior vice president and CFO of Hershey.

Photograph courtesy of The Hershey Co.

9. Little Debbie

little debbie zebra brownies

Calise said he was surprised to see Little Debbie—maker of Swiss Rolls, Zebra Cakes and other sweet treats—crack the list, finishing No. 9 in Gen Z’s favorite snack and candy labels.

“I didn't realize how much cachet [Little Debbie] still had among today's youngest consumers,” he said. “But it ranks first among food and beverage brands we track on authenticity and second on trustworthiness.”

Photograph courtesy of Little Debbie

8. Snickers

snickers crisper

Snickers comes in as the No. 8 favorite snack and candy brands of Gen Z. The chocolate, caramel and nut bar was even ranked by Ypulse as the seventh most trustworthy brand among millennials and Gen Z in the aforementioned study. The brand’s new Peanut Butter Crisper also is in the running for CSP’s 15th annual Retailer Choice Best New Product Contest.

Photograph courtesy of Mars Wrigley Confectionery

7. Pop-Tarts

pop tarts splitz drizzled sugar cookie frosted brownie batter

Kellogg's Pop-Tarts secured the No. 7 spot. In April, Kellogg’s Pop-Tarts released its newest product, Pop-Tarts Splitz, a two-in-one toaster pastry with two flavors in one individual pop tart. Ypulse also ranked Pop-Tarts as the ninth most trustworthy brand among millennials and Gen Z consumers earlier this year.

Photograph courtesy of Kellogg's

6. Sour Patch Kids

sour patch kids fire

The candy takes the No. 6 spot on Ypulse’s list of Gen Z consumers’ favorite snack and candy brands. It’s been a busy year for Mondelez’s Sour Patch Kids. In January, 7-Eleven Inc. resurrected the Sour Patch Watermelon Slurpee—the top-selling Slurpee LTO in history—as a flavor variety on its Slurpee machine. Later that month, Yoplait Go-Gurt launched two Sour Patch Kids flavors, Redberry and Blue Raspberry, in the yogurt company’s first flavor collaboration. In May, the brand revealed the newest additions to its repertoire: Sour Patch Kids Fire and Sour Patch Kids Freeze

Photograph courtesy of Mondelez International

5. Cheetos

cheetos chipotle ranch

Frito-Lay’s cheesy snack is No. 5 in Gen Z consumers’ favorite snack and candy brands. And for good reason: Eighty-one percent of consumers said they purchase cheese snacks at retail locations, tied with nuts for the highest of any snacking type, according to Technomic’s 2018 Snacking Occasion Consumer Trend Report.

Photograph courtesy of Frito-Lay

4. M&M's

crispy m&ms

The chocolate candy brand was named Gen Z’s fourth-favorite snack and candy brand. M&M’s has been at the forefront of candy news in 2018, beginning when it aired a commercial starring Danny DeVito during the Super Bowl. Since then, the brand has launched multiple flavor-voting campaigns and was named the top snack brand in London-based YouGov’s BrandIndex rankings.

Photograph courtesy of Mars Wrigley Confectionery

3. Hershey's

hersheys spreads snacksters

Hershey's finished as the No. 3 snack and candy brand among Gen Z consumers in Ypulse’s survey. The chocolatier is consistently leading confectionery news: Just this month, the brand acquired Pirate Brands—maker of Pirate’s Booty—and revealed its new 53-foot Mobile Consumer Insights Center. Earlier this year, Ypulse ranked Hershey as the third most trustworthy brand among millennials and Gen Z consumers.

Photograph courtesy of The Hershey Co.

2. Oreo

oreo chocolate candy bar

The chocolate wafer and creme-filled cookie brand finished as the runner up in Gen Z’s favorite snack and candy brands. This summer, Oreo released three flavors to c-stores nationwide for its #MyOreoCreation contest, which featured varieties such as Cherry Cola Oreos, Kettle Corn Oreos and Pina Colada Oreo Thins. In July, Ypulse also named Oreo the most trustworthy brand among millennials and Gen Z.

Photograph courtesy of Mondelez International

1. Doritos

doritos blaze

Frito-Lay’s flavored tortilla chips are Gen Z consumers’ favorite snack and candy brand, according to Ypulse’s survey. Doritos hasn’t shied away from media attention this year, having launched its "Blaze the Beat” campaign with rapper Busta Rhymes in July. This succeeded the brand’s first hip-hop-themed campaign: a commercial for Doritos Blaze featuring a rap battle between Busta Rhymes, Peter Dinklage and other celebrities during last year’s Super Bowl.

Photograph courtesy of Frito-Lay