After the Utah Cookie Wars, companies are competing for our calories

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Cookies remain one of the most profitable products in bakery retail. Some stores can make a cookie for 90 cents or less but may sell it for $4 or more. These margins vary depending on rental and employment costs, specialty ingredients, or whether cookies are efficiently mass-produced and frozen in a factory or made from scratch in the store, which is more labor-intensive. Earnings can range from $800,000 to $2.5 million per deal.

Sales may be driven by a strong economy, and Utah residents are feeling good: Average wage growth for Utah in the first quarter of 2022 was 9.5 percent. “It’s an impulse buy and an affordable treat,” says Dan Malovany, editor-in-chief of Baking & Snack Magazine, a specialty publication. “It’s driven by the fear of missing out, how people treat you, the showcase, how it smells. The experience is all built into the price of the cookie.”

A Crumbl franchise, for example, can ultimately cost between $227,666 and $567,833 just to open a deal, but a single deal generates everywhere $734,000 to $3.6 million in annual sales, according to research by Vettedbiz.com, which offers analytical data about franchises and companies. The annual profit of a single deal can range from $33,260 to $628,102.

But Smart Cookie and even Crumbl aren’t exactly new – they’re the latest in a long line of single-product concept stores. A few years ago people were crazy about custom cupcake shops. A decade ago, there were lines at the door for Krispy Kreme donuts, and many corner shops have gotten hot on cronuts — a fried croissant and donut combo. Long before that, there was Mrs. Field’s Cookies.

“It’s a sign of the times for what’s popular now,” says Malovany. “But people get tired of a concept after a while.”

Nonetheless, the hype was enough to prompt Reegan Young to buy Batch Baked Goods from her friend in Riverton last spring. “I was like, ‘He has no idea what he has,'” she says. “This might be another crumble – but for cinnamon rolls. I mean who doesn’t love cinnamon rolls?”

Just a few days after Batch reopened in June under Young’s ownership, another cinnamon roll shop opened three miles away. Another candy store, Blox, which sells a variety of cookie bars, is next door. Young is now trying to tout the differences between their cinnamon rolls and cookies and the competition. Batch does most of its business on weekends when church members hold meetings. “With the LDS conference just around the corner, we can’t stock our takeaways,” she says. “It’s a really good market.”

The market is also good for lemonade shops, which have exploded in recent years. Today there are 126 soda shops across the state with names like SodaBean, FiiZ, Sugar Rush, the Pop Stop, Sip It Soda Shack and Sodalicious.

Bailee Gray opened the Sugar Rush Soda Shop in Ogden at the age of 21 and four years later she has regular customers who arrive at the drive-thru from 6:30am. “We have people who get the same drinks two or three times a day,” says Grau. With steady growth, she plans to eventually expand Sugar Rush to more locations.

Other beverage chains are already growing. Launched in 2014, soda chain FiiZ has 51 stores in Utah, Texas, Colorado, Idaho and Nevada with 46 more stores in the pipeline, while competitor Sodalicious has 25 stores and expects to double that number in three years. Twisted Sugar, which sells both cookies and sodas, has 26 stores nationwide and was forecasting 100 by year-end late last year.

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