Natural Products Expo logo

Wonder Monday: Low-carb cheesecake snacks for every day of the week

As an Asian American who loves cheesecake, Candace Wu appreciates the support and connections she's making through the (included) ACCESS program.

Shara Rutberg

February 1, 2023

5 Min Read
Wonder Monday: Low-carb cheesecake snacks for every day of the week

Last year, (included) CPG, a collective of BIPOC founders and executives in consumer packaged goods, launched (included) ACCESS, a retail growth accelerator that prepares BIPOC food and beverage founders for trade shows. New Hope Network, as part of its mission to create health, joy and justice for all people while regenerating the planet, has been a partner in this accelerator. The eight-week cohort concludes with sponsored exhibition and programming at Natural Products Expo West in March.

The 10 emerging brands participating in this cohort will exhibit in booths N1530-N1539 in the North Hall, level 200. In each issue of Expo West Show Scoop through March 1, we will introduce you to two ACCESS members.

Jonathan Weinstein, the co-founder of low-carb cheesecake snack brand Wonder Monday, had never even tasted cheesecake until he met Candace Wu. Those sweet creamy bites savored on an early date—at the Cheesecake Factory, where else?—proved fortuitous. The two delighted in their shared passion for deliciousness, fell in love and set out to create a healthier version of the treat. And, after hundreds of failed attempts—including one especially ugly batch involving rancid almond flour—they did.

Wonder Monday founders Candace Wu and Jonathan Weinstein

A Wonder Monday Classic New York Cheesecake snack has 100 calories, 1 gram of net carbs and no added sugar. The same size serving of the Cheesecake Factory's Original Cheesecake contains about 310 calories, 21 carbs and 17 grams of sugar. The brand officially launched in late 2021 and has since baked and shipped over 500,000 of the luscious little cakes across the country. They are available in Strawberry Bliss, Chocolate Decadence, Key Lime, Salted Caramel, Pumpkin Spice and Classic New York flavors.

Wu and Weinstein are serious food lovers: Date nights involve perusing the aisles of grocery stores looking for yummy new products.

"We like to wander every aisle and we especially find delight when we discover a new brand that's reinventing a classic treat," Wu says. "We typically end our trips with something from the bakery or snack aisle."

What they weren't finding, however, was a better-for-you cheesecake.

"We care a lot about the quality of our food," Wu says. "We're the kind of people to read every ingredient on the nutrition label…but we also love a delicious treat." Perfecting a cheesecake recipe without "all the carbs, sugar and junk" and developing it for commercial, large-scale production took nearly two years. Once they found a real-food formula that checked all the boxes for deliciousness, Wu quit her job as product manager at WW (formerly Weight Watchers) to launch the company with Weinstein, who had recently finished the healthcare platform startup he left Harvard Business School to build.

 Low-carb cheesecake snacks for every day of the week

What's behind the Wonder Monday name?

Candace Wu: Mondays get a bad rap. So does cheesecake. Filled with calories, sugar and junk? Not for us. We're on a mission to challenge the status quo with healthy snacks that taste impossibly delicious.

Did your work as a product manager at WW help inform the Wonder Monday journey?

Wu: Absolutely. Working at WW helped me really understand the perspective of millions of folks who struggled with their wellness journey. I led the team that was focused on behavior change and integrating behavior change and positive habit loops into the app. I spent a lot of time studying how to influence the most change in someone's health journey and it's pretty simple: food. The number one trick to losing weight and taking control of your health is making good food choices every day. Little choices every day become big life changes. Especially when it comes to choosing what you're having for a snack! This in turn really helps me understand our core customer and who I'm building for.

In the natural food space, what challenges have you faced as an Asian American founder?

Wu: The category (refrigerated bakery) we're breaking into is a predominantly a white, male space. Most folks are surprised to see an Asian American woman introducing a healthier cheesecake into the market. Additionally, our product is very all-American. Most folks think we have a four-generation old recipe from our grandparents. Really, we just love cheesecake and saw a massive gap in the market to reinvent a beloved dessert.

How has the (included) ACCESS program helped you prepare for Natural Products Expo West?

Wu: We've had so many productive (and more to come!) sessions where industry leaders give us their time and resources to ensure that we're trade show ready. 

What do you hope to accomplish at Natural Products Expo West?

Wu: We plan to connect with buyers and retailers looking for a delicious, healthy dessert in their refrigerated bakery set. I'm also looking forward to connecting with other founders and the (included) community. And we're excited to launch our first-ever retail-ready, single-serve cheesecake at Expo West!

natural products expo west

The founders of the first (included) ACCESS cohort brands will each share their stories during a special session at Natural Products Expo West. Brand Spotlight: Discover 10 Innovative BIPOC Brands Shaking Up Expo West begins at 1 p.m. Wednesday in Grand Ballroom E of the Marriott. You'll also hear from industry allies Naturally Network, J.E.D.I. Collaborative, (included), Project Potluck and Fila Manila.

Subscribe and receive the latest updates on trends, data, events and more.
Join 57,000+ members of the natural products community.

You May Also Like