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Sharing Warms Oven of Tuff Entrepeneurs

156870230This story is about two college women that started their own cookie business, “Tuff Cookies.” They take orders and deliver the cookies to the customer’s doorstep while they are still warm.

My editor in college asked me to interview this enthusiastic duo about the business they started, and it was a lot of fun.

It was pretty popular, and they were very generous in sharing information, as well as their cookies. I was taking a photojournalism course at the time, and I managed to get two of my photos published along with the story.

What would you call two girls who attribute human characteristics in their culinary creations?

Tuff Cookies.158794873

Their cookies have been said to “have serious life in them,” to behave likes snobs and to engage in trickery in the oven, pretending to be done when really they are only half-baked. Tuff Cookies partner Lauren Hubert said there is a “whole life tat goes on in the oven without us.”

The Tuff Cookies duo, Hubert and Ali Berlin, have even called their cookies their “children.” Hubert went to school part-time last semester to dedicate herself to nurturing her newborn cookies.

Hubert and Berlin said they feel passionate about their cookies. It appears that others are beginning to feel the same about their hom93204335emade items.

Morgen’s Natural Foods has been carrying their latest cookies, which are frequently sold out by the end of the week, said employee Carolyn Smith. Irving’s Bagels employee Jessica Dattilo said their cookies are asked for by name.

“Customers want to know when we are getting them in,” she explained, f there are no cookies in stock.

The women are thrilled by their success, they say, but mildly surprised. They said it has been a struggle to be taken seriously in the business world and to have their product marketed in local food shops.

“We had to be pretty persistent,” said Berlin, in many of the places they promoted their cookies. They said they164208829 often felt “brushed off” and were not treated as professionals.

Berlin said she wants people to realize the pair’s success was earned by persistence and hard work.

Despite their products’ introduction into local stores, the women say the majority of their sales come from “cookie house calls.” Following their cookies’ debut at the Student Book Store last fall, Tuff Cookies have been making their way around State College.

Berlin and Hubert said they crank out nearly 25 dozen cookies a week, sometimes more. They said there is no real pattern to the cookie business. The women say their biggest seller is the “Chooey Ooey Gooey,” composed of “slivers of grated chocolate, fine-blended oatmeal and mouthfuls of milk chocolate chips” as described on their menu.

This dedicated duo takes pride in delivering their cookies by foot or car fresh and warm, just out of the oven, to the doorstep of cookie recipients. They boast that their cookies are made “from scratch” and are as natural as they can be. In the future, they hope to have the luxury of using even more natural ingredients.

101825414They say they admire the Ben and Jerry’s policy of using chemical-free dairy ingredients. They have recently sent their cookies to Ben and Jerry’s hoping to get their product carried at their stores nationwide. They say they can relate to their philosophy of business as well.

“Their whole outlook is like ours,” Berlin said. They just want “people to eat their ice cream.”

Tuff Cookies have been sold at the local Ben and Jerry’s. Their healthy alternative cookies can be purchased at Morgen’s Natural Foods. Two of their newest cookies 117919606were designed in response to a proposition by Morgen’s owner, Massie Jones, to create products composed with non-dairy products and unrefined sugar.

They “went ahead and made them and they’re awesome,” Jones said of the cookies. One of the new cookies has been such a hit, Jones said, that Hubert and Berlin recently bought themselves a 50-pound supply of the unrefined sugar that binds the cookies together.

Massie coined this creation the “cow patty” for its two-toned appearance. The cookie is made with unrefined sugar that is dark in color, and whole oats, giving it a “spotted cow” effect. Smith said it is the most popular Tuff Cookie among her customers.

Another specialty cookie, the nananutter, which is made with soy margarine and non-dairy products, was designed especially for the health store. Smith said she recommends the cookies to Morgen’s customers, and offers to “nuke them.” She said she thinks that the cookies are better warm. Read more…

Reprinted with permission from Voices.