D.C. is a city filled with desserts. From Georgetown Cupcake (ugh) to Captain Cookie & the Milkman (hell yeah) to the classier joints like Co Co. Sala, we’re very clearly a city with a sweet tooth. So it’s no surprise that D.C.’s newest dessert company, The Cookie Jar, is doing so well.
Helmed by Lindsay Larner, The Cookie Jar is all about fulfilling that centuries old need to eat raw cookie dough, salmonella be damned. Except, unlike the uncooked (and unsafe) cookie dough you can buy from the grocery store (or whip up at home if you’re feeling extra motivated about possibly dying), this is perfectly safe. None of the dough from The Cookie Jar is going to hurt you, unless your goal is to pull a Morgan Spurlock and eat nothing but cookie dough everyday (which sounds equal parts delightful and terrifying so please don’t).
Intrigued by the idea, we called up Lindsay to chat about her brand new startup, her favorite flavors, and more.
How did this all come about?
I’ve only been in business for six weeks and it has been a whirlwind. I’m always looking for something creative and new and I’ve always wanted to have my own business so I thought about freelancing or consulting, but I really wanted to do something more creative. So I started making cookie mixes, which were layered decoratively, in 32 oz mason jars and I was just doing it for fun. It’s something I had done a little bit in high school and it looked really cute and I thought, “I should sell these!”
I started looking into commercial kitchens because I wanted to play by the rules, work out of a legitimate space. When I was looking around for kitchens, I saw everyone was producing food and I had this product that you couldn’t just eat and I thought it would be more fun if I was making something you could eat. I knew I wanted to stick with desserts, I have such a sweet tooth. I started thinking, what’s something unique I could do? I didn’t want to do cupcakes, I didn’t want to do something that everyone was doing. I started googling and looking at the latest trends… and cookie dough is not necessarily a trend, but I think it could be and I think it’s something people really want and they know they probably shouldn’t eat. Everyone has their mom’s voice in their head saying, “Don’t eat that cookie dough, it’s raw!” So I wanted to fulfill what I saw as a need or a want while doing something creative.
So I switched my product over to cookie dough and the next thing I knew, I was working at Union Kitchen and now I’m in some stores and now I’m shipping and doing online orders and catering and all this stuff, but it really just started as this urge to do something creative.
Have you taken on any large creative projects like this in the past?
Not to this scale. I’ve always felt, with any full time job I’ve had since I’ve graduated college, that there has been some creative piece missing. I’ve taken drawing classes, I’ve taken painting classes, I dabbled around with baking cupcakes last year. I tried to explore all different kinds of hobbies, but this is the first one that I’ve really made.
Do you see this becoming a full time job and would you even want it to be?
Yeah, this is… it makes me really happy. I’ve always felt like my passion is in something, I mentioned this before, that’s creative mixed with something that I’m leading and something that I’m running. I really feel in my element with this. I’m doing all of the marketing, sales, finance strategy, and the development… the production obviously and the networking and it’s so overwhelming at times, but I find it to be so rewarding. I just want it to grow as fast as possible.
What has been the hardest thing you’ve had to do in the last six weeks? What made you think, “Oh my god, how did I get myself into this mess?”
I mean, there’s not enough hours in the day. When I’m at work I’m focused on work and I have to be able to balance that and I work for a startup and there are a lot of things to do. Everyone is working really hard and I’ve have to put some boundaries in my life and compartmentalize things so when I’m at work I’m at work. After work I’m doing my business and some things have had to give a little bit. I don’t go out as much, although I wasn’t going out a whole lot before. I don’t see my friends as much, but it’s worth it. I have my boyfriend and my best friend and I make time for those people. I make sure to call my parents, the important things are still important, but some things have had to go to the back burner. I haven’t been sleeping as much. There’s a lot of adjusting.
It must be difficult working at a startup while being in the infancy stages of your own business.
After I graduated I was working full time, but at my last job they sponsored me getting two masters degrees. So I kind of crave this. I remember after I graduated from those programs and was just doing my nine to five job I remember thinking, “What am I going to do with all my free time?” I was bored. I thrive on this kind of craziness.
It’s six weeks in and you’re already in Glen’s Garden Market. How did that come about?
Union Kitchen hooked that up. I’ve been learning more about Glen’s, I wasn’t as familiar with it before, but from what I’ve gathered they really support local, made in D.C. businesses and I think they’re just building a really nice community around that. I’ve talked to a lot of people who go to Glen’s and they’re just a piece of this movement of honoring products that are made in D.C. I think they have a really great partnership with Union Kitchen and apparently the product’s doing very well there.
I don’t know how much you like beer, but if you’re a person who does, Glen’s has a good / cheap draft beer list.
I should go back and check that out. I went when they first started stocking the product to see what it was like on the shelves. I’m not a huge beer drinker, but I do like trying some different beers so I’ll go back for that.
Is there anywhere in particular you would like to see The Cookie Jar sold?
Well, I would love to be in Whole Foods. Union Kitchen has a relationship with them, so while it feels like the dream it also feels like the attainable dream. It could happen. I’d love to be… everywhere. I really don’t know many companies that are doing what I’m doing. There’s two out there that I know of… and their may be some local places in some other cities or towns. I just think it’s such a good product. You go to the grocery store and you go to any aisle, and there’s so many different brands and so many different options and there should definitely be cookie dough that is edible on those shelves.
I’m going to ask you a difficult question. Which flavor is your favorite?
That is a difficult question. So I was thinking about this last night and it’s not the popular answer but my favorite is oatmeal raisin.
That is actually everyone’s least favorite. I want to be clear, it’s an excellent recipe. It’s not that it doesn’t taste good, but people tend to go for chocolate or the sugar cookie because it has sprinkles and it’s really fun. Personally, over the last couple of months, I’ve been more into carrot cake, cherry pie, lemon meringue, so I think I’m just into more of the fruit and nut kind of stuff, but it’s all good.