From as early as the Neolithic period (10,000 years ago), humans used a kind of grain and water paste baked on hot stones as a form of cracker or biscuit to supplement their diets--that was the earlist "cookie." The sugar and fat so integral to the deliciousness of the modern cookie was added in the 7th century. Though cookies aren't considered supplemental any longer, that is how cookies got their stellar start. Now, that doesn't mean you can begin eating cookies as part of your everyday diet...though it would be nice if it did.
Who doesn't like a cookie? Simple, self-sufficient, even elegant, cookies are as close to the perfect food as anyone can get. And they're big business in the 21st century. Yes, you will always have your bakeries, and now, cupcakeries, but the cookie itself has taken on new meaning as a commodity despite it's rather humble beginnings.
We've all had Mrs. Field's delicious cookies, experienced Famous Amos's brand, and Tollhouse...c'mon! But in 1981, two college room-mates would open a small cookie shop in Columbus, Ohio that would take the internet world by storm 25 years later: Cheryl & Co.
Have you heard of Cheryl & Co.? I bet you have. Especially if you've ordered flowers from the internet. In 2005, Cheryl & Co. merged with 1-800-Flowers, and ever since, have dominated the cookie-gift market.
I was first introduced to Cheryl & Co. cookies by an associate who sent us a cookie basket...it was, by no small coincidence, in 2005. It was April, and you may wonder at the precision of my memory but if you received a basket of 36 frosted sugar cookies that tasted better than anything you ever ate before (or after), you'd have a good memory, too.
Though Cheryl & Co. made their big name starting with cookies alone, the company expanded their business to things like gourmet brownies and dessert bars. The brain child of Cheryl Krueger and Caryl Walker, Cheryl & Co. started with only seven flavors of cookies. Today, the infamous frosted sugar cookies from Cheryl & Co. come in 27 flavors, shapes, colors, and themes...there's even sugar-free! You can also get more than 12 flavors of gourmet cookies, like pecan chocolate chip or oatmeal raisin. Mmmm. And don't forget the 14 flavors of brownies and cookie bars. Not too shabby. But what separates Cheryl & Co. from the rest of the cookie crowd?
Individual wrapping. That's right, each cookie, brownie or dessert bar is individually wrapped. Food allergies? No problem. You can order your peanut butter chip cookies with your sugar cookies and there's no worry of cross contamination. Diabetic? You can have as many sugar free brownies and cookies as you'd like. Success in consumer-driven business always translates to catering to the individual, especially with our postmodern attitude. The genius of Cheryl & Co. is that they do just that. And when you look at other successful (or not successful) food-related businesses, it's easy to see why some are winners and others, not. But it's not all about individuality--though that's a BIG part of the overall equation.
The product, cookies in this case, must be EXCEPTIONAL. Cheryl & Co. is as close to home-made as you can get...and sometimes, even better! Just like in Field of Dreams, "If you build it, they will come...." That doesn't just apply to baseball anymore. The proof? Next year will be Cheryl & Co. 30th anniversary.
So though we owe the origins of the cookie to 7th century Persian culniary masters who took the biscuit up by about 100 notches after using fats instead of water and adding some much needed sugar, today, on the shoulders of 1,300 years worth of giants, Cheryl & Co. stands tall.
Don't believe me? See for yourself: www.Cheryls.com And by the way, I don't get paid for saying any of this. If I read a good graphic novel, see a great movie, eat a delicious cupcake, or fall in love with frosted sugar cookies, you'll be the first to know. Not because these things are commodities for me, but because life tastes better with cookies. You can swallow trouble a little easier with a good book. You feel empowered after experiencing a great movie. And the best of both worlds can be had in the throes of a visually stimulating and compelling storyline found in a graphic novel. Yes, you should take life seriously...really, it's not an option these days. There are lots of problems erupting simultaneously all over the globe. We all worry about today AND tomorrow. And while a cookie won't make those difficulties disappear, it sure makes life a little easier, doesn't it?
Cookies are what I call HOPEFUL EDIBLES. When technology advanced to the point where every American home had its own oven, sometime in the early 1900's, the diversity in cookie recipes exploded. That's because no matter how bad things get, no matter how rich or poor you are, everyone can enjoy a cookie equally. Cookies are ambassadors of hope and healing...and if you eat an oatmeal raisin, you can even trick yourself into believing it's healthy, too.
Until next time, dearest readers....have a cookie!