As a kid, one of Corey Tolkin’s most memorable experiences was making chocolate chip cookies with her mom Julie and licking the bowl. But due to salmonella outbreaks, doing so was pretty unsafe. “Instead of being a typical mom that just said ‘no’,” Corey reflects, “my mom said ‘how?’.” Julie created a cookie dough recipe with no raw egg, which she used to make cakes topped with chocolate and peanut butter. In 2011 after Corey graduated with a master’s degree in math secondary education, Corey and Julie took a chance and launched their cookie dough company, Unbakeables.
Ever since then, Corey and Julie have been selling cookie dough through their small mother-daughter run business. The two of them run Unbakeables together: Corey mainly handles back-end marketing, financing, and sales, while Julie works with the development and production of the cookie dough. The key to their relationship is trust and the ability to disagree with each other. “We always will know each other’s heart and check when we feel like we need to,” Corey says
The Best Part–“I make cookie dough!”
However, the road to starting their business was not without difficulty. Coming from backgrounds in math secondary education (Corey) and early childhood education (Julie), going into the business world was difficult. One of the most important lessons Corey learned was embracing the uncertainty and taking chances. Corey recalls, “You almost feel like a fraud until you realize that nobody knows what they’re doing, and those that think they know what they’re doing definitely don’t know what they’re doing.” She found that she didn’t need a MBA to succeed in the business world, and through trial and error she was able to play on her strengths. Her math background helped her with research and developing her product, while her education background allowed her to connect on a personal level with her customers.
This kind of connection is one of the things Corey enjoys most about her business. Corey and Julie often demo their product in cities like New York. One of her favorite experiences is when NYC passersby wear fake headphones so as to avoid social interaction. When Corey offers them her cookie dough, they keep walking, but then register what Corey said and do a double take— “Wait, are you offering me cookie dough!?” In this moment, Corey sees “the weight of the world has been lifted off their shoulders for half a second.” Through her experience demoing, Corey has seen just how much cookie dough can bring people together. The nostalgia of childhood brings Corey and her customers back to the fun of childhood. In her own words, the best part of Corey’s job is “I make cookie dough!
Unbakeables: the Road Ahead
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected Unbakeables’ business model and taken a lot of personal interaction out of the company. Corey calls demoing the #1 source of marketing for her business– “That is not only one of the biggest parts of our business, but also a place to add marketing and add awareness of our brand to our target market.” Thankfully, Unbakeables has been able to survive through the pandemic. Corey and Julie have been marketing their product online and selling them in large nationwide stores like Whole Foods. Their no-waste policy has allowed them to sell scraps from the machine (which they typically use for in-person samples) as Unbakea-bits. In the future, Corey hopes to bridge the gap between her different store locations and for her brand to continue expanding and bringing the fun of childhood to more people
You can find Unbakeables at your local Whole Foods in the NYC metropolitan area, Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Oklahoma. Visit their website to learn more, browse flavors, or to see a full list of stores.