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Crumbl and the Top 500 logo.jpg Courtesy of Crumbl
Crumbl is the king of super-successful cookie shops.

Is there a dessert-restaurant bubble?

Nearly one-third of dessert concepts had negative unit growth last year

This year, there are 32 dessert concepts in the Top 500, though it seems like there is a new viral dessert sensation opening its doors every day. Although the industry is no stranger to sweet trends — remember the cupcake craze of the 2000s? — social media has taken dessert spots to new heights of popularity.

Cookies seem to especially have a certain allure for franchise growth; relatively low-cost builds and operations for franchisees paired with practically-built-in young fanbases hungry for that photogenic concoction of the week.

Crumbl is the king of these super-successful cookie shops. This year, the quick-growing sweets chain entered the top 100 for the first time, with 40.8% unit growth and 10.5% sales growth in 2023. Even though Crumbl is again in the top 10 fastest-growing concepts (by units), the cookie chain’s growth has slowed down. In 2022, the company’s unit count and sales growth had both more than doubled, while in 2023, Crumbl’s unit growth far outpaced its sales growth.

Plus, Crumbl might be a sweet success story, but it’s only one dessert concept. Many similar oversized cookie shops with creative flavors have yet to crack the top 500, including Chip City and Dirty Dough. Within the Top 500, nearly one-third of the dessert concepts had negative unit growth. Besides Crumbl, most of the top-performing dessert chains were longtime stalwarts of the industry, like Dairy Queen and Krispy Kreme.

Eye-popping cookies, doughnuts, and even bundt cakes might be having a moment, but it takes more than just social media virality to take a growing concept from a flash in the pan to a long-term success story.

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All data courtesy Technomic Ignite Company data. Looking for more data? Click here to access the complete Technomic Top 500.

Contact Joanna Fantozzi at [email protected]            

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