For Sawyer Hemsley, Crumbl is about more than just cookies. It’s about nostalgia and sharing. Along with his cousin and co-founder, Jason McGowan (CEO), Sawyer’s passion is finding that perfect combination of ingredients that will please and delight customers.
After only six years, Crumbl has over 900 locations spanning all 50 states, four locations in Canada and a store in London in the works. And it started with a single chocolate chip cookie recipe.
Q: How did you get the idea for Crumbl?
A: My grandmother was the best baker I knew. She was always making something — from chocolates and cakes to Danishes and bread. She was a good influence on me when it came to baking. My mom carried that into my childhood home, as well.
When DoorDash was introduced, Jason and I decided to bring a warm cookie concept to Logan, Utah where I was going to school. We wanted to deliver warm cookies to people's doors. We weren't experienced in baking at the time, so we tried different techniques. We were YouTubing and reading books and bringing people in that were working in commercial bakeries at the time to teach and guide us. It took six months to get that one recipe for the chocolate chip cookie that we wanted. We knew we had to have something that was really good for us to be successful, so we started there.
Q: How did Crumbl become the franchise that it is today?
A. We originally asked my mom to partner with us, but she wanted to have the freedom to be a stay-at-home grandmother. Once the business took off, she expressed interest in it. So, we thought, “Why don’t we open a second store?” My parents opened the first franchise in Bountiful, Utah. My sister was the next one to open one in St. George, Utah, followed by my college roommate and it just went on from there. We never thought we would leave the state of Utah and never asked anyone to buy a franchise. Everyone has just heard about Crumbl and has wanted to bring it to their community. It’s pretty unique how fast we grew.
Q: Why do you think Crumbl is so successful and so beloved by customers?
A. It comes down to our product and we truly stand behind our product offering, which is a large, warm, homemade cookie — just as you would receive from mom or grandma pulling out of the oven. Since day one, people have lined up outside the door to be able to get this type of experience. It's a nostalgic sweet that everyone grows up having a memory about. Cookies make people happy.
And our mission statement is “bringing friends and families together over a box of the best cookies in the world.” We want to inspire the world to create meaningful moments with those that matter most. That’s why our cookies are so big. They’re meant to be shared so people can create these memories and these moments.
Q: How has Crumbl made the experience of buying cookies so enjoyable for customers?
A. We have an open kitchen concept at Crumbl and we’re really proud about showing everyone the entire process of what it takes to make a cookie. From measuring ingredients, cracking the eggs and turning on the mixer to transporting the dough to a bin, balling it, putting the cookies in the oven and decorating them — we show it all in front of the customer. Not only do they love seeing that process, but they also love walking into a Crumbl location and smelling fresh cookies. It's not like a typical bakery where you have all your cookies behind a glass display. You almost feel like you're walking into a kitchen at home, and that's what we love.
Q: What do you think makes Crumbl cookies so unique?
A. It goes back to the nostalgic piece. When we develop a cookie, we truly love to think about what people grew up with. Not only do they grow up with cookies, but also other desserts. We pull inspiration from cookies, cupcakes, brownies, hard candies, candy bars, cakes, muffins — you name it. We want to transform that into a cookie flavor. It’s just a different medium of that dessert, but through a cookie. From the start, we wanted to use real butter, the highest quality chocolate chips that we could, brown sugar, white sugar, and we wanted to crack the fresh eggs in front of our customers.
Q: How many flavors of cookies does Crumbl have?
A. We always say we have 150-plus flavors. We develop anywhere between 30 to 50 new flavors per year. What's unique about Crumbl is that we're not afraid to adapt, innovate and change based on customer feedback. Some flavors don't ever come back after the first run because they didn’t resonate with the customers. We have an extensive testing process to try to combat that, but sometimes the data and the results prior to launching something on the menu is different than actually having it out in the wild. We have 50 testing sites throughout the nation, and they're selected based on operational excellence and quality. We are constantly testing cookies in these testing sites and getting live feedback through a survey from our customers.
Q: Why did Crumbl choose to use Hobart Legacy+ mixers?
A. Equipment is everything to us, because we are always mixing. We started out with cheaper mixers, and what happened to them? They kept breaking. We knew we needed something reliable and durable that can mix many, many hours throughout the day and the year. We knew Hobart was the king of kings when it comes to mixers, and now all of our stores have Hobart mixers. They're amazing. We have two Legacy+ HL600 60-quart mixers in every location and a Legacy+ HL200 20-quart mixer in most of the stores. They have the power bowl lift on the HL600s, so the bakers don't have to strain their bodies to lift the bowl. They also have the SmartTimers to recall time and speed. Baking is a science and Hobart helps us with the consistency and timing of everything.
About the Author
Carolyn Bilger is the marketing director for Hobart – Food Preparation Products. She has been with Hobart since 2015 and sets the strategy for marketing and new product development for the full line of Hobart food preparation equipment. See all her blogs here.