Kakookies, an innovative line of better-for-you, single-serve cookies, has emerged with top honors in the 2018 Snack Food & Wholesale Bakery “Best New Healthy School Snacks” voting. The cookie line was recently reformulated to be gluten-free and has new packaging. The company, based in Minneapolis, also exhibited at the National Restaurant Association show for the first time in 2018.
Kakookies are available in four different grab-and-go varieties: Almond Cranberry, Boundary Water Blueberry, Cashew Blonde and Dark Chocolate Cranberry. The MSRP is $2.99, and they are currently available at retailers such as Whole Foods and Hy-Vee, as well as state parks and foodservice locations.
In order to learn more about Kakookies, we reached out to Sue Kakuk, founder.
Douglas J. Peckenpaugh: What was the inspiration for Kakookies?
Sue Kakuk: My daughter was a collegiate cyclist, and I wasn’t comfortable knowing she and her teammates were stopping at fast-food for doughnuts and breakfast, so I started baking and sending “breakfast cookies.” I was determined to bake something that was packed with energy, nutrition and wholesome ingredients, but was also a convenient and portable handheld snack. There just weren’t many options in the “better-for-you” grab-and-go snack category and, knowing that everybody loves cookies, it seemed natural to me to create a cookie made with healthier calories, not empty ones, that would also satisfy hunger and sustain energy. To this day, my daughter still enjoys the original Almond Cranberry cookie in the morning with a cup of coffee in the morning. (That’s my favorite too!)
DJP: What was the hardest part about commercializing your cookie recipes?
SK: The hardest part was finding a co-manufacturer that could bake a round cookie and package it! Smaller bakeries didn’t have a flow wrap machine to individually wrap the cookies, and the larger facilities only had equipment to extrude rectangular bars, not round cookies. In a world bursting with over-processed snack bars, I wanted to be different by creating nutritious, delicious, grab-and-go cookies for the convenience of over-scheduled families and on-the-go active lifestyles.
As a home baker, I understand that cookies are more labor-intensive, but that’s also where the comfort comes from and why everybody loves cookies. It could be memories of baking with your mom, sneaking cookies from the cookie jar or grabbing a handful to share with your friends. You just don’t get that kind of emotion from eating an energy or protein bar!
DJP: Why did you decide to make the cookies gluten-free?
SK: That was a little by accident. My husband and I were always so grateful to the families that hosted our daughter when she was a cyclist, we decided to pay it forward by opening our home to teams of cyclists and, of course, this included an unlimited supply of Kakookies. Some of the athletes were following a vegan or gluten-free diet, so I developed separate gluten-free and vegan cookie recipes to accommodate them. When I discovered that the people who weren’t following a specific diet enjoyed the gluten-free or vegan cookies just as much, I decided to make life easy and developed one recipe that tastes awesome but can be enjoyed by anyone, regardless of age or dietary restrictions.
Today, all Kakookies are certified gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free and soy-free. The Boundary Waters Blueberry flavor is also nut-free and is especially popular with moms looking for healthier treats and portable wholesome snacks to fuel their children on busy mornings, after-school activities or outdoor adventures.
DJP: What are the core ingredients in the cookies?
SK: The first ingredient in all Kakookies is gluten-free oats and includes superfoods such as chia seeds, nuts, sunflower seeds, coconut oil and antioxidant-rich dried fruits. Our plant-based protein is all natural from the nuts, oats and chia seeds. I’m not convinced that some of the high-protein cookies on the market are a good choice for children. Therefore, my focus is on flavor with a short ingredient list, no preservatives and nothing artificial. I’m inspired to make balanced healthier treats without sacrificing or compromising on flavor.
DJP: Where are Kakookies distributed?
SK: You can purchase Kakookies throughout the Midwest and nationally thru several different channels:
- Grocery: Whole Foods Midwest, local food co-ops, Kowalski’s, Coburn’s, Hy-Vee, independents
- Specialty/hospitality: gift shops, outdoor, spa, hotels/resorts, athletic departments, etc,
- Foodservice: college campus dining, corporate dining, health care, coffee shops/cafés, etc.
- Convenience stores and corporate mini marts
- E-commerce via www.kakookies.com or Amazon.com
We all lead busy lifestyles, so my goal is to have Kakookies available where people need them most, making them an ideal grab-and-go energy snack for travelers, athletes, outdoor enthusiasts, busy families and anyone interested eating better and living better.
DJP: What makes Kakookies different than other similar products on the market today?
SK: Kakookies have the taste, texture and comfort of a cookie, but with less sugar and more nutrition than traditional cookies (3 grams fiber, 4–5 grams plant based protein). It’s like an energy bar in the shape of a cookie—a wholesome treat, good anytime, anywhere! The cookies also have a soft baked texture and unique flavor combinations. It’s a gluten-free and vegan cookie all in one delicious handheld package. We don’t use any flour (no rice flour, potato starch or xanthan gum), manufactured egg or butter replacements, or added protein powders. Just clean, simple ingredients.
DJP: What’s next for Kakookies?
SK: As a recipe developer and innovator (I’m a two-time Pillsbury Bake Off finalist and a Newman’s Own Recipe Contest award winner!) I’m always creating new recipes and will be launching some new items. I always like to keep a few surprises, so all I’m willing to share right now is, watch for something new by the first of the year!