MINNEAPOLIS — After she discovered her daughter’s collegiate cycling team was stopping at fast-food restaurants before racing 60 to 80 miles, Sue Kakuk, owner of Minneapolis-based Kakookies and a Pillsbury Bake-Off competition finalist, created a nutritional energy cookie to replace these meals. The recipe soon became popular among her friends and acquaintances, and in 2014, Kakookies was established.
It started as a small-scale operation, but the formulation’s evolution continued in order to seek out the right consumer base. With the demand for gluten-free and plant-based, Ms. Kakuk experimented with gluten-free flour and vegan egg/dairy replacements.
“But I questioned, ‘Are rice flour, potato starch and gums or the processed egg and margarine replacements really providing the nutrients that I originally set out to make these cookies with?’” she recalled. “I wasn’t convinced that it was.”
Her next move was removing the flour and filler ingredients and creating a recipe that had a snack bar’s nutritional qualities but tasted like the dessert — a “cookie reimagined.”
The No. 1 ingredient in Kakookies is oats. They also include coconut oil, chia seeds and nuts. Additionally, the company developed a nut-free option called Boundary Waters Blueberry that replaces the allergen with sunflower seeds. All Kakookies products are vegan and gluten-, dairy-, egg- and soy-free.
Before this year, Kakookies’ assortments — almond cranberry, cashew blonde, dark chocolate cranberry and Boundary Waters Blueberry — were a little out of the ordinary for cookies. But in recognizing the protein value of peanut butter and the growing number of busy families interested in the products, Ms. Kakuk decided it was time for a classic flavor combination. The peanut butter chocolate chip cookie features five grams of protein and is 1.41 oz and 200 calories. Sold to distributors and small wholesale accounts, the cookies also may be found on www.kakookies.com and Amazon.
The peanut butter chocolate chip cookie launched at the same time as the company’s new shelf-ready box design. Decorated with a bicycle, airplane, tent and soccer ball, the packaging is representative of the brand’s vision to distribute nutritional products made for people who keep moving, from on-the-go families to athletes and outdoor enthusiasts.
To emphasize its active lifestyle vision and nutritious ingredients, the company travels to various fitness events and celebrates certain days in the year with special deals. On Jan. 24, it celebrated National Peanut Butter Day, which coincided with the debut of the peanut butter chocolate chip variety. And every year Kakookies highlights National Chia Day on March 23.
“It’s a good way to focus on the ingredients that are in our cookies and provide some education on it,” Ms. Kakuk said.
Kakookies’ reach is extending as more consumers seek new diets or desire an energy source from a snack.
“It’s the concept of being able to make nutritious foods enjoyable, more than just providing healthier calories,” Ms. Kakuk said. “You can be satisfied and sustain your energy. There’s no reason we can’t have a cookie and eat it, too.”