Liz's greatest love affair has always been with sugar. And Dan's greatest love affair has always been with Liz. And that is where their story begins.Two star-crossed lovers: high on chocolate, but down on their luck. After the dizzying days of dot-com highs and lows, the beleaguered couple was out of work, in debt, with unemployment benefits running out fast. Meanwhile, and much to Dan's chagrin, Liz filled the freezer with vegan hand-dipped chocolate goodies for friends and family. The outcry was unanimous, “When can we place an order?”
So, Liz locked herself up like Rapunzel in a tiny attic-level kitchen in their apartment just outside of Philadelphia. Most of the ceiling was on a deep slope, and she stopped counting after the 46th time she knocked her head. Despite cramped conditions, Liz yielded the best vegan cookie recipes of all time... she fooled friends, family, and staunch anti-vegetarians with ease.
They baked hundreds of samples, schmoozing everyone they could think of with free cookies. One fateful morning, they climbed into their pickup around 5:00am with big boxes of cookies headed for the Whole Foods Market regional headquarters in Rockville, Maryland. They weren't actually invited, so they pushed the cookies through the window to the receptionist and said, "these are for the bakery meeting." Two weeks later, the phone rang and they were in! Soon, the fledgling cookie makers were shipping cookies all over the East Coast.
The business had really taken off by Winter 2003. They were growing out of their space, and couldn't keep up with direct shipping to retailers. United Natural Foods, the largest natural foods distributor in the country, agreed to beginning sell the cookies in September 2004. Exhausted from their non-stop schedule, and incapable of baking enough cookies to fill the distribution deal, the beleagured cookie entrepreneurs decided to take a summer hiatus to rest and regroup.
Liz and Dan were like patriots without a country that summer. The bakery was shut-down and packed away, and their legacy was fading daily. Plus, they knew that meeting their September deadline was a long-shot. They needed capital, a new bakery, more equipment... you name it! They found help from friends, family, and some great folks up in Vermont. So they packed everything into boxes and moved up North.
With time running out, they got a fast education in DIY construction. Six grueling weeks of building walls, digging plumbing trenches, and pulling electrical wire. Somehow, they finished the job just in time to make 1000's of cookies to fill warehouses up and down the East Coast for their September launch.
Today, Liz spends most days at home with their baby daughter, fielding bakery emergencies via mobile phone, and clocking telecommute time in the evenings. Dan is still working like crazy, but now his morning commute winds through rolling mountains and majestic fields into Vermont's Mad River Valley where two tough cookies continue to build their dream together. No traffic lights. No traffic. Just farms, fields, cows, and beautiful skies. You should visit them sometime... it's paradise.