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“Will you stay on?” It was June of 1995 and at dinner with a key employee and his lovely wife, that question hung in the air.
In the 1970’s the Cookie Cupboard was a string of retail stores located throughout Northeast Ohio in malls and downtown storefronts. By the 1980’s, creating formulas for the exclusive use of our retail cookie stores was done in our own production facility. And before that decade was over, we were selling to grocery stores, coffee shops and caterers who valued high quality, freshly made cookie dough, muffin batters and brownies.
On May 1, 1995 new ownership was in place. The same owner to this day. But first things first. That dinner.
This employee was experienced. In fact, he had a 40 year career with Hough Bakery including 25 years as their Superintendent. Only the family who owned Hough Bakery outranked him. Retiring two years before Hough was sold, he thought he had put bakery production behind him. Until a phone call from a mutual friend brought him back and had him working for several years at the Cookie Cupboard. We knew what we had in him. He was a vital ingredient to our future, if we were to have one.
Finally, an answer. “I’ll stay until the end of the summer. That’s it”.
Twelve weeks was not much for us to work with. By the second day, Blueberry Muffins were on the production schedule. With a sense that he wasn’t happy with the formula, we asked him why? He said, sometimes formulas are created to meet financial goals or production yields, and not according to the science of baking.
So we asked, what would you do to make it the right way?
From that moment on, every formula was revisited. Re-formulated. Re-introduced. Doing it the right way is the only way we make recipes at Cookie Cupboard.
These rules still apply today. Cookie Cupboard has grown to include over 350 formulas with many seasonal specialties, and every day, our focus on clean, quality ingredients grows stronger.
Those twelve weeks went fast, and thankfully they turned into twelve years.
We worked side by side, and he was as generous with his time as he was with his decades of experiences – formula development, production efficiencies, private label products (his largest client was Pepperidge Farm).
When he started to feel his age, only then did he stop coming into the office each day. But he continued to work from home. His call the one I took no matter what was happening. And he would say, "you know I was thinking." And we’d clear the production schedule to work together side by side once again.
We never claim to know everything he did, what he accomplished and his experiences. If you worked under him at Hough, you know he was tough. Exacting. But fair, highly principled and honest.
In February 2015, the company moved to expand its ordering and production capacity. In our previous facility, we had a sign in the mix room. What would Dick Do? That sign, yellowed and worn, did not survive the move to the new facility. But his guiding principles sure did. They are ingrained in everything we make, how we make it, and in how we treat the customer.
There was one formula that we could just not get right. The development costs were getting very high and we had discussed whether or not we should even continue to work on it. We even brought in an outside bakery expert. He suggested starting with a general base dough or using a pre-made mix.
And Dick said, "You know, there are easier ways to make cookie dough. But there is
no better way."
We’ve been doing it that way ever since.
© Cookie Cupboard Gourmet Dough™
Ellen's Cupboard™ Handcrafted Cookies
7600 Wall Street, Cleveland, Ohio 44125
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