Lynn Yeager and Janice Copley were inside their small store on San Jose Boulevard, but Cookie Momsters wasn’t really open for business. It was a baking day.
Yeager’s son Jacob, now 6, is autistic, and she started reading that gluten (the protein in wheat, rye and barley) and casein (a protein in cow’s milk) could cause a lot of problems for children with autism and other issues. With Jacob, Yeager said, it causes severe eczema and itching. That disrupts his sleep and his therapy. Without those, his autistic symptoms increase.
“There were a lot of gluten-free products on the market,” Yeager said. “But as for the taste, un-uh. I’d hand him one and he’d hand it back.”
It was Copley who first suggested that they could do it better. So the two friends, both teachers at San Jose Catholic School, got together and started mixing and baking. They tried different combinations, different recipes and tried the cookies out on their students.
Eventually, they got some recipes they were happy with and their second jobs, and Cookie Momsters, began.
They created a company, packaged one-pound tubs of their dough and found their first market in Native Sun Natural Foods Market. Then Whole Foods Market, which was planning a store in Mandarin, gave them a call.
“I thought they were kidding,” Yeager said.
But they went down and met with the Whole Foods people, armed with dough and freshly baked cookies. But the Whole Foods executives started talking about recyclable containers, stockkeeping units and a bunch of other things the women hadn’t thought much about.
“We were so far in over our heads,” Yeager said. “But once they tasted our cookies, they kind of took us under their wings.”
Logo from Cookie Momsters