For the first time in its more than 150-year history, Pillsbury will have ready-to-eat treats in the cookie aisle, reflecting a nation that's over its pandemic baking craze.

Nearly a year after laborious baking projects, such as sourdough bread, took over America as a form of distraction during new pandemic lockdowns, the pendulum is swinging the other way. Research shows consumers are weary from cooking and cleaning up three meals a day and are craving shortcuts and convenience.

Pillsbury, owned by Golden Valley-based General Mills, is best known for its refrigerated doughs, but even that requires dirtying a baking sheet.

Like many baking-ingredient companies, General Mills saw a huge spike in sales for its flour last spring before stabilizing at moderately elevated levels as the pandemic went on.

The company isn't reinventing the wheel with its shelf-stable soft-baked cookies. Instead, it's directing Pillsbury's baking prowess toward a product for consumers who want a sweet treat now — not in 10 to 14 minutes.

Before the pandemic, the premade cookie category was growing mid-single digits, said Jeff Caswell, president of General Mills' snacks division. It's now up nearly 12%. General Mills' research showed its Pillsbury refrigerated cookie-dough customers were also shopping the ready-made cookie aisle, so it saw an opportunity.

Caswell was quick to highlight a "new generation of bakers" created by the pandemic who still enjoy time in the kitchen despite the growing trend in cooking fatigue.

"These are for those moments when on-the-go convenience is a priority and this is an 'and' to the exciting space of new bakers amongst us," Caswell said.

Pillsbury's 18-pack of cookies will come in four varieties: chocolate chip, confetti, sugar with drizzled icing and peanut butter with chocolate drizzle.

They will be available at retailers nationwide over the next two months.

Kristen Leigh Painter • 612-673-4767