THAT should be the way the cookie crumbles

Posted: March 4, 2012 in Uncategorized

by Ras Ashcroft

Outside of writing, I love trying out new entrepreneurial ideas.
About two years ago, I graduated from University and had a couple of months to spare before starting a job in the family business. Having read about a young man from Scotland called Fraser Doherty who had made a fortune in selling healthier jams, I decided to set up and run a part-time food business project of my own. My cooking prowess didn’t extend beyond ‘making burnt toast and dry oatmeal’ but a foray into the food industry sounded like fun!

I started with a trip to the local supermarket to pick an ideal product. Inspired by Fraser, my plan was to choose one food item and make the recipe healthier. After an hour of wandering through the aisles without a shopping cart and attracting a few quizzical glances from the security guard, I left with a small list of candidates. This was my list:

Smoothies
Pasta Sauces
Cookies

Yeah I told you it was a small list.

I initially tried making banana smoothies and using whey protein powders to make a nutritionally packed drink, but I could tell from the look on my sister’s face when she tried a sip that I would have to go back to the drawing board. I picked cookies next, quite simply because we didn’t have any snacks lying about the house at the time. I quickly tinkered with a standard Oatmeal Raisin recipe to use Honey and Canola & Palm Fruit Oil instead of sugar and butter, and stuck the first batch in the oven.

The result wasn’t perfect, but there was definitely something there! I spent the next two weeks working on my baking skills and the end result was a soft, golden brown cookie that tasted pretty damn good (I’m a modest person, I swear). It didn’t have the thick quality of traditional cookies because of the lack of butter and sugar, but I was planning to use the ‘healthier’ aspect to sell them. I ran a taste test at the town community centre and was delighted with the response, with some people comparing them to ‘Christmas Cookies’.

It was time to start selling.

After food safety training and paperwork, I baked a large batch and set up shop one Saturday at a local street market. Christ it was disastrous. Cookies with uneven ingredients in cheap plastic Tupperware, hand-written pricing signs and a crude stand – it’s no surprise that I only sold a total of 4 cookies for 50p each.
Luckily, my dejection only lasted a day. Over the next 2 months, I worked on the business while continuing to sell at street markets. I created two new recipes for ‘Dark Chocolate Melt’ and ‘Sweet Almond’ Cookies and made a system for efficiently churning them out with perfectly measured ingredients. I also created a brand name called ‘Wild Oven’ and applied it to my clothing, the stall, a banner, food-safe packaging and all my carefully designed pricing material. I used samples and a tiny oven at the stall to create an aroma and lure customers in.

The final result? On my last market day, I sold out my entire stock! I was exhausted from baking all night and selling all day, but also ecstatic. I wanted to start introducing my cookies to local shops and cafes and even got an interested party, but my job was starting soon and I had to put the project aside. Still, it was a memorable couple of months and it only increased my love for trying out new and interesting business projects. In fact, I have recently started a money transfer business, so let’s see how that goes!

***

Ras Ashcroft has released ‘Supervillain: The Concise Guide’ which is a humorous parody guide on world domination. Please note that during the course of this particular venture, he didn’t use any of the seedier advice given in this book to try and make it to the top of the cookie pile.

Supervillain: The Concise Guide
http://www.amazon.com/Supervillain-The-Concise-Guide-ebook/dp/B0076ZZCIC

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Comments
  1. Love the logo! The whole adventure sounds like it was lots of fun 🙂

  2. soupandnuts says:

    Wild oven, hmm…can only imagine the heat!!!

  3. Thanks for letting me guest post Gabriela.

    Yes Monica, it was a lot of fun!

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