Sometimes hunger strikes late at night, and only a snickerdoodle will do.
Yet people who crave cookies at midnight often are the same people who perpetually lack the ingredients – flour, cinnamon, ambition – needed to bake them at home. For them, there’s Cookies & Milk, a service that delivers still-warm, baked-to-order cookies, along with small cartons of milk, to Sacramentans within the central city and some adjacent neighborhoods.
Cookies & Milk entrepreneurs Nick Altman, 27, and Will Countryman, 25, attended high school in Modesto and then UC Davis together. Countryman, inspired by late-night sweets purveyors in Santa Cruz and other cities, started the business nearly three years ago, while still in college. Altman came on board soon after.
Both maintain full-time day jobs (Altman at a software start-up and Countryman at UC Davis), which is partly why Cookies & Milk, housed in a downtown commercial baking space, operates only four nights a week (7 p.m.-1 a.m. Thursday-Saturday, 6 p.m.-midnight Sunday).
Altman and Countryman employ five people part time but still participate in all aspects of the business, from baking cookies – which go for $1.50 apiece or $15 for a mixed dozen – to manning phones and making deliveries.
We spoke to Altman about the late-night delivery service.
Q: Did you learn to bake for this business, or did you already know how?
A: I definitely grew up in the kitchen with my mom, so I knew the basics of baking. … But we both (Altman and Countryman) got really interested in the science of it, and we have learned a lot about it since we started. We started with a lot of family recipes and old classics, and just evolved them over time.
Q: I ordered the $15 box of a dozen cookies, which came with six varieties. Is the makeup of this box always the same?
A: Every week, we have the same five standards: chocolate chip, sugar, snickerdoodle, peanut butter, chocolate crinkle – which is like a brownie cookie covered in powdered sugar – (plus) a rotating special.
We try to do something a little fun and funkier with our specials. Some of the popular ones we have done in the past are an Oreo cheesecake cookie and a strawberry lemonade cookie. But then we also do the classics, like oatmeal raisin.
Q: Who is your clientele? People in their 20s, like you?
A: Basically it’s across the board. Everyone likes cookies, so people will order them on a date night, or for (children’s) sleepovers. We deliver to a lot of bars and restaurants for people after they eat, and sometimes, to (events) like Concerts in the Park.
Q: You deliver to Concerts in the Park? Do you meet people on the corner or something?
A: Yeah, we will call them and meet them. There is not too exact a science to it.
Q: You offer a “Hornet Special,” ($25 for 18 cookies and three small cartons of milk), so one can assume there’s a market among Sacramento State dorm dwellers and other people who lack ovens.
A: Yeah, sometimes we get people who don’t cook at all. And definitely in the summer, people will order from us who don’t want to get their houses all hot from baking something.
Q: What percentage of the people to whom you deliver cookies are stoned?
A: I can’t put an exact number percentage on it, but they’re definitely a big part of our customer base. We love ’em.