Baking With My Great-Grandmother…and Willy Wonka
Since this is my first official blog entry, I thought I’d elaborate a bit about how I ended up in the cookie business. As mentioned in the company timeline, my obsession with baking and, really, food in general began at the early age of seven. During that year, two things happened to awaken me to this extraordinarily creative world. One, I found myself completely mystified by the original version of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. And two, my great-grandmother welcomed me into her kitchen as her trusty baking apprentice.
I’ll never forget walking into the movie theater the day that Willy Wonka opened in my hometown. The entryway was filled with old-school lobby cards depicting delicious scenes from the movie. As I entered the theater, I was given my very own golden ticket. On the back of the ticket was a mail-in offer. Send in a dollar with the completed form, and you would receive your very own chocolate making kit. What a deal! Well, I sure didn’t waste any time sending my dollar in, and a few weeks later, my new chocolate making kit arrived in the mail. I remember my excitement that day as I tore open the box. The kit included molds for the bars, wax paper, authenitic Wonka wrappers, and sprinkles. All you needed was the chocolate to melt into the molds. I went to work immediately, my imagination running wild at the prospect of my new chocolate-making enterprise! When my creations were complete, I loaded up my red wagon and proudly set out to peddle my bars to everyone in the neighborhood! While my venture was short lived, I couldn’t help thinking that I might end up like Charlie Bucket someday with a factory of confectionary bliss.
My great-grandmother noticed my newfound enthusiasm and took me under her wing. We began baking together regularly, making delightful creations like biscuits, pies, and (my favorite) cupcakes! We made everything from scratch using some really great ingredients. I was absolutely mesmerized that you could take all of these simple ingredients and make great-tasting goodies. Under her watchful eye, I learned all of the basics: using a rolling pin, the joy of hand mixing, sifting flour, cutting biscuits, and, the most exciting endeavor, mixing icing. To me, mixing the icing was a lot like the colorful, creative scenes in Willy Wonka. I loved blending the butter and sugar and then adding the drops of color until you found exactly what you were looking for. I always smile when I look back on those first baking sessions. My great-grandmother passed away long ago, but I still keep her old mixing bowls in my kitchen to remind me of the year that I first learned about the magical world of baking.