It’s hard to believe a cookie empire was partly built by asking random people at grocery stores and gas stations to sample cookies. But that input was invaluable to Jason McGowan and Sawyer Hemsley, who tweaked their recipe accordingly before starting Crumbl Cookies in 2017 in Logan, Utah.
The other part of their success? Delivering warm gooey cookies direct to folks’ doorsteps via trendy pink boxes with Instagrammable appeal. Now these “crazy cousins,” as they like to call themselves, are at the helm of a fast-growing, nationwide, gourmet bar and cookie delivery company with more than 160 locations in over 30 cities.
The tech-driven franchise opened 87 stores in 2020 alone, and they’re just getting started with new locations opening every 10 to 12 weeks. Part of what makes them unique, they say, is that each venue prepares its desserts in an open kitchen. “Having our customers see every cookie being made is one of the best experiences of our stores,” said Sawyer Hemsley, Crumbl co-founder and COO. It helps, too, that stores are open six days a week, often to 10 p.m. weekdays and midnight on Fridays and Saturdays.
Luckily, since Crumbl was already poised in the takeout and delivery world, and its late-night deliveries had put them on the map, the company was not adversely affected by the pandemic. In fact, the cookie creators made their processes more contact-free and user-friendly by implementing digital menus, ordering kiosks and offering digital gift cards for delivery which come with a video that customers can attach with a message for relatives and loved ones.
“It’s always been about the cookies,” emphasized Crumbl’s public relations specialist Anna Tibbitts. “We believe cookies are one of life’s most simple and enjoyable pleasures. They bring people together, and remind us all of home.”
Another asset: The company’s 120 flavors. Some of the most popular are Milk Chocolate Chip, Raspberry Cheesecake and Chilled Sugar Cookie. Other favorites include Muddy Buddy, Funfetti, Snickerdoodle, Coconut Lime, Chocolate Caramel, Rocky Road and Nutella Sea Salt.
The company also serves up a variety of bars, brownies, shakes and ice cream infused with cereal and cookies.
And then there’s the social media component, with cookie flavors selected weekly by fan-favorite suggestions and announced through Instagram.
Said Hemsley: “Initially, we didn’t set out to build the largest cookie business, but after seeing the joy we could bring to customers, slow-paced growth just wasn’t an option.”
If you’re interested in cookies, read about cookie artist and activist Jasmine Cho here and how Red Door desserts helps formerly homeless women through their vocational training initiatives (which involve lots of cookie baking) here.
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