LOGAN, UTAH — Jason McGowan and Sawyer Hemsley created Crumbl Cookies in 2017. Since then, the bakery has gained wild success from its rotating weekly line up of flavors. What started out as a side hustle for two cousins eventually turned into over 750 franchise locations across the US and Canada.
Originally the bakery sold only its famous Milk Chocolate Chip cookie. Then it introduced the post-midnight cookie, Midnight Mint, which was only available to customers in the early hours of the morning.
Once the cousins realized customers craved this LTO cookie, they began releasing flavors only available during certain hours during the day. This concept eventually expanded to six flavors a week.
But with over 250 flavors, how does Crumbl prioritize particular cookie flavors over others? It uses a Cookie Calendar.
The Cookie Calendar is planned a year in advance. It lays out each week of the year with the six cookies that will be released every Sunday for consumers to purchase. However, the cookies are not just drawn out of a hat for each week; there is extensive planning and strategizing that goes into perfecting each week’s lineup.
“We get a lot of suggestions on socials, which is great,” said Anna Tibbitts, senior manager of partnerships for Crumbl Cookies. “We love that because it will give us ideas that our R&D team hasn’t thought of before, or they thought of but didn’t think anyone would like.”
Hemsley is very particular about the cookie lineup for each week, but it goes beyond flavors. He considers that first moment of when a customer opens the box to ensure the blend is aesthetically pleasing.
For a cookie to be released in the lineup, it must go through multiple rounds of testing. It isn’t uncommon for a cookie to get to the end of testing, fail the last round and be sent back to square one. Crumbl wants to ensure the highest quality and is willing to put in the time and resources to reach that, even it means retesting a cookie seven or eight times.
Customer feedback and suggestions play heavily into the R&D process. It helps the bakery decide which cookies will be repeated, which recipes need to be tweaked and which ones need to be laid to rest in the cookie graveyard. One example of this is the Bubblegum cookie, which received such poor feedback from consumers upon its release it was one of the rare cookies that will never be repeated in a weekly lineup again.
Although Crumbl takes into account holidays and seasonal flavors, the highest success seen in a weekly lineup has been when the flavor pairings are less common.
“We actually have, interestingly enough, found that when we do branded lineups, it actually does not do as well as our other weekly lineups,” Tibbitts said. “I think it attests to Sawyer wants to make sure that every lineup has a unique take to every cookie, but the cookies also go really well together.”
Crumbl is also known for its collaborations with brands such as Oreo and movies, such as those that inspired a Minion lineup. The development process for preparing the flavors, crafting the cookies and quality assurance testing takes around nine months for special collaborations. In comparison, an in-house flavor takes around six months to rollout.
The power of TikTok and curiosity of viewers drove the popularity of the unique flavor combos. Influencers began reviewing and ranking weekly cookies, which piqued the interest of viewers and turned them into customers.
Crumbl takes customer feedback very seriously for every one of its cookie flavors. It all leads back to the brand’s mission statement of “bringing friends and family together over a box of the best cookies in the world.” That’s the focus behind every weekly lineup and every flavor developed.