What started as a small family business in Syracuse about a decade and a half ago is today the largest decorated cookie company in America, but still operating in the Syracuse area.

The Decorated Cookie Company is found in many top retailers from Costco to Target and Barnes and Noble just to name a few.

It also sells direct to customers through its website, but it didn’t happen overnight.

Founder Tina Hess tells NewsChannel 9, “I had to send a gift to somebody who just had a baby and I said let me try to decorate some cookies.  And I did and I sent them to her.  They were terrible but she loved them and then I started sending them to other people as gifts. And they kept asking how can I get some.” 

So Tina and her husband Peter bought a small bakery in Syracuse, fixed it up and Tina started making and selling her decorated cookies.

Peter Hess remembers when he realized they’d hit on something big.

“Tina and I spent the entire weekend basically trying to stock up on enough product so we could ship 300 cookie bouquets and on that Monday, Valentine’s Day being that Friday, we got 300 orders that morning and it just didn’t stop.”

Tina says what they realized early on is that their cookies are not just food, they’re gifts sent to celebrate an occasion or brighten someone’s day.

“We’ve always tried to work really hard but we love what we’re doing and we try to make it fun for everybody.”  Says Tina Hess.

While the company still has artisans hand decorating many cookies similar to the early days they’ve now turned to technology too to keep up with the high demand.

Their client list includes the likes of Pro Flowers, Mrs. Fields, Harry and David, Target, Barnes and Noble, Walmart, Costco, Hobby Lobby and Walgreens.

Tina Hess says, “Its really exciting, especially because usually I’m with my girls, I’ve got three little girls, and we’ll walk into a store and they’ll go ‘mommy there’s your cookies’. And that’s something I never thought 15 years ago would happen.”

With holidays and special occasions pretty much year round there’s never really a down time here which is why they’re cranking out about 25,000 to 30,000 decorated cookies every day.

Peter Hess says, “We’re coming off of a big Christmas holiday, you go right into Valentine’s Day and its sort of a weird month because you’re shipping Easter Cookies to the big retailers like a Barnes and Noble or Target but at the same time you’re starting to build up your inventory of Valentine’s Day cookies to ship directly to consumers.”

They are also meeting with big retailers already about fourth quarter holiday cookie designs from Halloween to Christmas, which they’ll start producing and shipping in July.

Peter Hess tells NewsChannel 9, “Our vision was always to be the largest decorated cookie company on the planet and we really wanted to do it here in our hometown.”

Right now, The Decorated Cookie Company has about 70 people working for them on two shifts.

They plan to hire another 10 to 15 by fall or winter of this year and also anticipate adding a second production line.