An innovative homegrown dessert, Jar Joy desserts went from flavor testing in a kitchen to selling from a food truck to mass market availability at Sam’s Club and Aldi within a few years. To keep up with growing demand, the company recently acquired a 60,000-square-foot production facility in Sanford, Fla.
Noting that only about one in 10 new food products from entrepreneurial ventures and small companies succeed, Jar-Joy founders Shaun and Sarah Hunte point out that the homegrown nature of Jar Joy is pivotal to its success story.
The husband-and-wife team says the product has “caught the wave” of several recent and emerging consumer megatrends. And from the beginning their premium dessert has grown in favor not because they have a corporate food lab and market research department, but because they have created a product that they themselves love, that fits into their own family’s lifestyle, and that responds to the feedback they have received from their own community and their growing customer base.
By growing organically, the Jay Joy product concept has naturally responded to real life wants and needs. This fit with consumer preferences and behaviors that not only drove market adoption prior to the pandemic, but has also positioned the product for future growth.
The founders state that Jar Joy epitomizes the consumer megatrend — sometimes referred to as conscious indulgence or permissible indulgence — of an indulgent treat enjoyed in healthy moderation.
“The flavor is everything,” according to Sarah Hunte. “I started by making cupcakes, at the tail end of that craze, when I was looking for a second career after years in pharmaceutical sales.”
Sarah Hunte’s interest in flavor was piqued early on during time spent working at an ice cream shop after school. “I saw how customers responded passionately to old favorites and new combinations of familiar flavors.”
She says she carried this experience with her, and it fueled her desire to create flavors that would rekindle fond memories or perhaps create new ones.
Shaun Hunte admires his wife’s skill at developing flavors. “Sarah is a master at working with ingredients, adding or subtracting just the right amount to highlight the desired flavor and texture,” he says.
Jar Joy is known for the distinct flavors that delight customers — in layers. Each jar contains multiple layers with distinct flavors and textures that add up in combination to a clearly named overall experience, the same way that a pie on a plate combines the sweet filling with the crispy baked crust and a cheesecake blends the creamy, sweet cheese with the crumbly crust.
The Jar Joy dessert names are clear and enticing. The pie flavors include Key Lime Pie, Peanut Butter Fudge Pie, Coco Loco Caramel and Mississippi Mud, while cheesecake lovers can choose from Summer Strawberry, White Chocolate Raspberry and Cookies n’ Cream. Three cake-inspired cheesecake flavors are also popular: Birthday Cake, Death by Chocolate and Red Velvet.
With the holidays around the corner, Jar Joy produces special seasonal and holiday flavors such as Eggnog Cheesecake, Chocolate Peppermint Cheesecake and Gingerbread Cheesecake.
The clean-label, not-too-sweet trend also taps into consumers’ demands for less sugar and for portion control.
“We prefer desserts that are not too sweet,” Shaun Hunte explains. “And one of the reasons that our products took off is that our customers appreciated that our products are sweet enough to bring out the flavors and feel like a treat, but do not contain too much sugar. We have found that the type of sweetness is also important. By using fruit and avoiding processed sugar, the taste is improved and the product is more healthful.”
In the beginning, the company was looking for a way to deliver the desserts to the mass market. They came upon the unique idea of individually portioned jars for their pies and cheesecakes. This was immediately attractive because it promised consumers and businesses many benefits: an easily transportable product, convenient storage, ready-portioned servings, and being read-to-eat immediately.
The founders of Joy Jar originally focused their idea on “cake in a jar.” However, they found that baked cake products were not suitable for mass production in jars. Shifting focus, they successfully developed a manufacturing process that works extremely well for pies and cheesecakes and makes mass production possible.
Originally, the pies and cheesecakes were packaged in 8-ounce jars, but movie theaters, one of the early adopters of the brand, reported that while their patrons loved the desserts, many were satisfied after eating only half of the jar. Jar Joy found that 4-ounce jars were actually more popular, and the company standardized on the smaller size. The individual-portion size is combined into multi-jar variety packs, allowing everyone in a family to choose a favorite.
Individually portioned Jar Joy desserts are portable, stackable and ready-to-eat anytime. They also have a long shelf life in a refrigerator and can be kept in a freezer for a year.
Jar Joy is available in 4-ounce variety packs of 6 jars for a suggested retail price of $10.48 at Sam’s Clubs and Aldi.