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Desserts & Sweets Consumption Analysis in the US During the Pandemic

Taking a Look at America’s Favorite 
Desserts & Sweets by State During 
the Covid-19 Pandemic

As the country weans and wanes through levels of lockdown, emerging from quarantine has made one thing clear: If you’re not pregnant with a real baby, you’re likely pregnant with a food baby.

Common enough to coin the term “Quarantine 15,” weight gain has been a major side effect of pandemic-induced stress. With groceries delivered straight to the door and deals galore on meals from local restaurants, it’s easy to fall into the trap of using desserts to cope with COVID. 

So, how have dessert sales changed since the start of the pandemic? Which desserts have people been chowing down on the most, and are certain cities consuming odder treats than others?

We scraped Mercato’s database to see how many desserts were purchased over the past year and what preferences looked like across the country. Keep reading to see if your quarantine snacks of choice align with the majority. 

Dessert Pandemonium

Rough times can often lead to stress eating, and there’s no denying 2020 has been far more than “rough.”

Coinciding with the first rollout of lockdowns, dessert purchases on Mercato increased by 4,755% in the first week of April, compared to just a month prior.

Considering most consumers were stocking up on dessert the same way they did toilet paper, this spike decreased tremendously by the second week of April. 

Despite the downfall, dessert purchases remained well above the average until as recently as October of 2020.

By the first week of October, dessert sales were still a whopping 600% higher than their early March levels.

Some may argue Halloween played a role in high dessert sales during recent months, and while Halloween candy has undoubtedly contributed to the spike, experts say the increase in sales is strongly linked to pandemic-driven behaviors.

Chocolate Takes the Cake


When it comes to emotional eating, images of ice cream-filled spoons, fresh baked goods, and candy wrappers lining the floor may come to mind. But during the pandemic, all other sweets went to the wayside – all to make room for chocolate.

Despite some previous studies finding ice cream to be America’s dessert of choice, the first week in March saw chocolate sales explode. So much so that the sales of brownies, cakes, cookies, ice cream, pastries, pies, and pudding didn’t even come close to those of chocolate.

By April 5, chocolate sales reached a peak of nearly 17,700 sales, while the only dessert to come close – cookies – had just 5,824 sales on the same day.

The peak in chocolate sales may have turned downhill quickly after that, but by October of 2020, chocolate sales remained well above pre-pandemic levels – leveling off at just around 2,000 sales, compared to a mere 65 in December of 2019.

City of Sweets

Major metropolitan areas opted for the same dessert of choice throughout the pandemic: Chocolate was the most purchased dessert category in every major city.

However, the desserts that followed varied widely. While 1 in 5 dessert purchases in Indianapolis and San Francisco were cookies, nearly 1 in 4 dessert orders in Washington, D.C., and Chicago were for ice cream. 

Oddly enough, Brooklyn, NY, had the highest percentage of pies, cobblers, and tarts sales (10.4%), compared to every other major city, while Indianapolis stood out for its muffin sales (14.4%).

Across all cities, non-chocolate candy was the least bought dessert by far, with the only city whose sales of these sweets exceeding 5% being Los Angeles. 

Preferred Pandemic Products


While most major cities seemed to agree on the category of dessert, what about specific treats? Looking at each state specifically, we were able to determine which exact dessert was the most popular between January and October of 2020.

For Alaska, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups came out on top, while Arizona and Arkansas preferred Famous Amos cookies and Endangered Species dark chocolate with espresso beans, respectively.

In the Northeast, however, New Jersey’s treat of choice was Justin’s Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups, while Häagen-Dazs vanilla bean ice cream topped the charts for New York. 

On the baked goods side, the most popular treat in Connecticut was Jiffy corn muffins. At the same time, Portuguese muffins were the top item sold in Florida, and Wilson Farm cider donuts were the top item sold in Massachusetts.

Despite chocolate chip cookies being cited as the most “American” dessert of all, traditional chocolate chip cookies only ranked number one in Pennsylvania. Nevertheless, variations of the treat were top sellers in Arizona, Illinois, and Oklahoma.

Desserts Delivered

Emotional eating is a common and normal coping mechanism, as long as it’s not your only one. 2020 has been a wild ride, and though it isn’t over, if you’ve already escaped lockdown with a few extra pounds, you’re not alone.

Dessert sales across the country have seen unprecedented spikes, with chocolate sales increasing by over 4,700%.

While sales of chocolate, cake, candy, and everything in between are likely to wax and wane along with lockdown rules, they are likely to stay elevated as long as the 2020 horrors do.

If you find yourself craving dessert to drown out the COVID blues, don’t be afraid to indulge.

Add the dessert of your choice to your cart without any shame – just make sure you’re getting the essentials, too. Mercato makes it easy to get everything you need delivered straight to your door.

Whether you need fresh baked goods from the bakery down the street or crisp in-season vegetables from a local farmer, our system will connect you with your community without sacrificing convenience.

To place an order or learn more, visit us online today.

Methodology and Limitations

As noted on some visualizations, sample sizes in certain states or metro areas can be somewhat small, given there were fewer available merchants in those areas during the studied period.

Some U.S. states had either zero or only a small number of Mercato merchants in operation during the studied time period, all data here should be considered as a snapshot of the Mercato platform and not necessarily correlated to total U.S. trends.

Fair Use Statement

Here’s something sweet: We grant you permission to share the findings of this study with your readers, as long as it’s for noncommercial purposes.

All we ask is that you include a link back to this page so our contributors receive proper credit.