By Rieva Lesonsky

Back in July when national bakery chain Crumbs Bake Shop crumbled, many declared that cupcakes are dead. But Crumbs has been rescued and several stores have reopened, though many will remain shuttered permanently.

Still, that doesn’t mean cupcakes once again reign supreme. In fact many other sweet treats are battling for dessert domination. Here are a few of the contenders:

(Almost) like Mom made. According to Technomic, a food industry research and consulting firm, lots of consumers are looking for their childhood favorites, but with an innovative update.

Tiny treats. A Technomic survey shows more than 33 percent of consumers would order more dessert, if it were served in “mini portions.”

Gourmet donuts. This is not a new trend; fancy donuts have been challenging cupcakes for years now. One market advantage donuts have is that even artisanal varieties are relatively inexpensive.

We’re all screaming. Like we told you a few months ago, America’s in the midst of an ice cream revivalNation’s Restaurant News adds the latest twist: Many restaurants are coupling ice cream with other sweet treats and creating things like Cake Mix Sundae or unique ice cream “sammies” (sandwiches), such as Baked Apple Sammie or Breakfast Sammie (featuring candied bacon ice cream).

One restaurant in Washington, DC, is serving popcorn ice cream sundaes (with actual popcorn ice cream), underscoring a report from menu-tracking company Datassential that says popcorn as a dessert has soared 200 percent on menus in the last five years.

By the numbers. According to Technomic:

  • The number of consumers who eat dessert at least twice a week has increased 10 percent since 2010.
  • 78 percent of consumers use dessert as a way to reward or treat themselves.
  • 60 percent of people order dessert because they are “happy.”
  • Desserts ordered at 44 percent of full-service restaurants are shared.

(Resources: USA Today, Spark Business IQ)

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at [email protected], follow her on Google+   and and visit her website,, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports.