Contest is now closed. Thanks to those who entered! Winner will be announced soon!
Yesterday I had the privilege of attending a blogger event at Cheryl&Co. What? You've never heard of Cheryl&Co? OK, for those who don't know: they are the makers of perhaps the best cookies ever, EVER made. Cookies with real buttercream frosting that are perfectly soft and creamy, melting in your mouth with each bite. Cookies that you would willingly take from a baby, knowing that their limited experience is not enough to appreciate just how incredible these cookies are.
Each Christmas, my aunt brings a large box of individually wrapped Cheryl&Co. cookies to our family dinner. I quickly dive in and find all of the Citrus Frosted Cutouts, claiming them for myself while others pick out their favorites. When friends visit from out of town, we often stop at the Cheryl&Co. store in Tuttle Mall so I can introduce them to the world's tastiest cookies.
Knowing all of that, you can guess I'm biased towards Cheryl&Co. - but I was in love with them long before they invited me to this event. Of course I couldn't wait to get a tour of the facility and learn more about the business behind the cookie, and now the brownie. Yesterday happened to be National Brownie Day, and Cheryl&Co. wanted us to try their new frosted brownies while we were there.
The event started with a very nice lunch, heavy on the fruits and veggies. (Good choice - better to start with healthy foods to offset the sugar that was coming later.) After that we all donned hairnets and aprons for a tour of the production facility.
I was honestly surprised at how small the production area was - there were three cookie-dough mixers, and only a couple of machines that put the buttercream frosting on the cookies. While on the tour, I learned that each cookie is still hand-frosted, just like when they started. A machine deposits the right amount of frosting on each cookie, but staff hand-spread that frosting across the cookie.
Any cookie that doesn't meet the quality standards for size, shape, or frosting is set aside and later donated to the Mid-Ohio Food Bank. On average, 172,000 cookies are made each day!
After our tour, we then were taken to the test-kitchen to try our hand at decorating while learning a little bit more about how long it takes to test out new products and bring them to production. I also discovered that I will never have a future as a cookie designer:
At the end of the day, we were given another bag of goodies to go with our own creations from the test-kitchen, and we were encouraged to give them feedback on our experience with their products.
What I love about Cheryl&Co: first, they're a local Columbus company, and I like to support local business. Second, they really do know how to make a delicious cookie and brownie. Third, all of their products are made with real ingredients: eggs, milk, sugar, butter, wheat flour, real vanilla, etc. You're not going to find corn syrup in these cookies. They also make sugar-free and kosher cookies.
What I don't like: Generally I like nearly everything about their business. My only complaint is that they still use artificial colors to dye their sprinkles and tint some of their buttercream frosting. We've found that my daughter, Cordy, can't eat artificial colors without having a reaction, both in behavior and skin. She's not alone in this - many kids on the autism spectrum have these reactions.
I brought up these concerns at the event, and was told that natural colors were tested several years ago with poor results. But they did admit that there have been advances in natural colors and it might be something to revisit. Should they choose to try again, my daughter will be first in line to try the new products - she'd love to eat a Cheryl cookie that wasn't a plain frosted cutout.
Finally, I appreciated getting to see so many bloggers I know and love at this event. I spent a lot of time reconnecting with my friends Jenna from Stop, Drop and Blog and Heather from Domestic Extraodinaire, both kind enough not to judge me on my poor brownie decorating skills. Special thanks to Vanessa (Chef Druck) and her husband for putting the event together with the staff from Cheryl&Co!
Now that you're hungry...
So, you didn't think I'd chat about cookies and brownies without giving you the chance to have some too, right? I'm going to share the love with you - one reader will win the Cheryl&Co. Ultimate Brownie Assortment! This is a boxed gift set of 18 individually wrapped brownies, including the new buttercream frosted peanut butter, classic vanilla and hot fudge brownies, along with favorites like toffee crunch, classic fudge, blondie and oatmeal scotchie. This gift set is a $50 value!
1. Visit the Cheryl&Co. website, then leave a comment below telling me your favorite sweet treat from their site. One comment per person for this method of entry.
2. For an additional entry, follow me on Twitter (@mommystory) and Cheryl&Co. (@CherylandCo) and tweet "I want to win an Ultimate Brownie Box from @CherylandCo and @mommystory! http://tinyurl.com/ycgcbqk" then leave a link to your tweet in a separate comment on this post. One comment per person for this method of entry.
Entries will be accepted until Wednesday, December 16 at 11:59pm EST. Be sure to leave a valid e-mail address in your comment. One winner will be chosen at random (using Random.org) on December 17 and contacted via e-mail. Winner has three days to respond or another winner will be selected. Brownies will be shipped from Cheryl&Co.
And if you're not the lucky winner - or just can't wait until next week - use the code BRN10 to save $10 off any purchase at Cheryl&Co. from now until 1/31/10.
Full disclosure: Cheryl&Co provided all of the goodies for this event, including lunch, brownies to decorate, an apron, a gift bag with cookies and chocolates, gift cards, and the ability to provide this giveaway to you. I provided my own transportation, and I was not required to blog about this event. But c'mon, how could I resist?