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Cookie Delivery Service: Are Crumbl Cookies Worth It?

White quartz counters. Sterile touch screens. Millennial pink marking. It’s not a make-up counter or a West Hollywood boutique; it’s Crumbl Cookies – the fastest growing cookie franchise in the country.

I first tried Crumbl a few years ago, and while I can’t remember what flavor of cookies I had, or even if I particularly liked them, I remember the box they came in have arrived: a candy pink, slender rectangle that fits four huge neatly packed Crumbl cookies.

Crumbl took a simple idea – flour, sugar, eggs, plus that exclusive pink box – and, in less than five years, grew exponentially from location to 478 in 45 states with plans for 600 d end of the year. Fans of the brand may not realize that before Crumbl could take over suburban malls nationwide, it first had to conquer the cookie landscape of its home state, Utah.

The Great Utah Cookie War began as a land war fought on two fronts. To the south was the Battle of the Pink Frosted Sugar Cookie. Most Utah cookie connoisseurs would associate this pastel bakery with Swig, the soda shop that started in the southern Utah town of St. George near Zion National Park. Originally, Swig sourced the now-famous pink sugar cookies at Dutchman’s Market just down the street in Santa Clara.

After a few years, Swig tweaked Dutchman’s recipe and started baking his own version of the cookie. Now, it’s hard to imagine Swig’s popularity or relevance without the boost of this frosty pink delight. (I’m looking at you, Olivia Rodrigo.) The “soda and candy” concept sparked an infamous war between rival Utah soda stores Swig and Sodalicious, as well as other iterations like Thirst; and let’s not forget, a nationwide TikTok “dirty soda” trend with everyone from teenagers to celebrities spiking their Diet Cokes with coconut cream and a squeeze of fresh lime.

Crumbl has apparently perfected the concept of a marketing company that also sells cookies.

Even Crumbl had their own version of Utahn’s pink frosted sugar cookie. It was a weekly menu staple for four years, but the company announced with melodramatics that on April 23, 2022, the pink frosted cookie would be removed from its permanent menu at Crumbl. There was even a (hopefully kind of) tongue-in-cheek memorial service for flavor.

In northern Utah, the battle for the giant chocolate chip cookie was fierce and led to the creation and eventual dominance of Crumbl. In 2016, Chip Cookies opened its first location in a college town, Provo. The only cookie on the menu was a large chocolate chip cookie. The company’s website states: “The Original Gourmet Cookie Delivery Company”. Of course, Chip didn’t invent cookie delivery or gourmet chocolate chip cookies, but it’s entirely possible that he was the first to blend those two ideas.

Shortly after Chip’s debut, Crumbl Cookies opened in 2017 in its first location in another college town, Logan. Like Chip, the first and only thing on the menu was his version of a giant, indulgent chocolate chip cookie. Before Crumbl could prove himself a worthy statewide contender (and the ultimate champion), there was a skirmish for Logan’s Cookie Turf between Crumbl and Baked; quickly, Crumbl prevailed. (RIP cooked.)

The loss to Baked was a harbinger of what was to come. Although Chip arrived first in the land of milk and cookies, Crumbl had to realize that the great Utah cookie war was not about who had the best cookie, but which cookie looked the best on a phone screen. Crumbl apparently perfected the concept of a marketing company that also sells cookies.

Crumbl says of its famous pink box: “Recognizable and Instagrammable, perfect for posting that sweet review, boomerang or photo of Crumbl on social media!” This focus on viral social media marketing is central to Crumbl’s business plan. Crumbl releases a “flavor drop” every Sunday night with a weekly menu featuring its chocolate chip cookie that started it all and topped it off with unique flavors. Enraged fans on YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, Twitter and Reddit then chat and review the limited-edition cookies throughout the week…until the following Sunday and the next flavor drop.

At least in some ways, Crumbl’s virality looks like a mirror of the virality of the virus that dominated the last 212 years – the exact period of Crumbl’s accelerated success. At a time when people sought creature comforts, they found them in the comfort of Crumbl’s cookies. When we’ve lacked control, stepping into a Crumbl or logging into the app with its clean lines, simple color scheme, and sans serif font can feel like a welcome reprieve. There are six cookie options and contactless payment. That’s it.

It should be noted that the restraint of real experience in a Crumbl contrasts with the excess that dominates its growth and marketing models. Crumbl’s cookies are known for their over-the-top frosting and decadent flavors like caramel popcorn, Funfetti milkshake, and chocolate strawberry cheesecake, not to mention their real 412– inch size in diameter. Every week, the new Crumbl menu debuts on its website and social media channels with shiny, creamy, slow-motion videos of each new cookie filmed as a sexy girl in a music video. This is a lot.

Crumbl must have realized that the Great Utah Cookie War wasn’t about who had the best cookie, it was about which cookie looked best on a phone screen.

Crumbl tapped into the aspiration to communicate aesthetics and worldview through consumer choice. It’s not about eating a Crumbl cookie. It’s about showing that if I’m going to eat a cookie, I have the cultural cachet and the five dollars to buy a gourmet cookie that will be beautiful, desirable and exclusive. And without calories.

Through its marketing and social media channels, Crumbl makes it clear that it cares about selling “the best cookie in the world.” The bravado of this statement is perhaps what made it such a salient affair. Believing in what you are selling underlies at least some measures of success.

Does Crumbl really sell the best cookies in the world? It is not possible. What about the artisan chocolatiers, pastry chefs with years of French training, and home cooks who have perfected a chocolate chip cookie passed down from scribbled recipe card to recipe card? And sometimes a classic Toll House chocolate chip cookie is truly perfect.

That same bravado might have caused the two founders at the helm of Crumbl, CEO Jason McGowan and Managing Director Sawyer Hemsley, to have the tenacity and foresight to realize that Crumbl isn’t about cookies anyway. It’s about creating a “cookie hype cycle” with limited-edition flavors. It’s about opening this beautiful pink box; and really, it’s about posting that box and those cookies on social media.

The Great Utah Cookie War and the current national cookie trend created by Crumbl reflect our thirst for content as much as our thirst for cookies. And for that, Crumbl reigns victorious, for now.

Crumbl did not respond to a request for comment.

A version of this story originally appeared on thebeehive.com