RYE, N.Y. -- Rye resident Sara Leand always loved making cookies since she was a little girl baking with her grandmother. In the past few years, she has taken that love and expanded it into a nationwide business: Sara Snacker Cookie Company.
Leand first started selling her cookies as a college student at the University of Arizona. After graduating, she moved to Los Angeles, where she worked in the entertainment business, first as an executive at Paramount Studios and then as an executive producer on a number of television shows. Yet, she always maintained her love of baking.
"I always knew I would come back to it, but I figured it would be as a grandmother, not as a first-time mom," she said.
After getting married and becoming pregnant with her first child, she decided to give her cookie business another go. She started selling them at food shows and eventually got them into her first store: Zabars in Manhattan. Four years and three kids later, her cookies are available in stores across the nation.
Leand describes her cookies as "classics with a twist." Her original cookie was the Chipn'etzel, a shortbread cookie with pretzels and potato chips. Other varieties include a lemonade cookie and her recently launched gluten-free, dairy-free Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chippy.
"I love coming up with crazy concoctions, usually when I'm playing around in the kitchen with my kids," she said. Her Chipn'eztel came about when trying to use pretzels as an alternative to nuts, and the new peanut butter cookie was created when trying to recreate the taste of a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup.
"I'll think of something I love, maybe something from my childhood, and I'll start working on it," she said. She'll often use her friends and family as her taste-testers and tinker with the recipes until she's satisfied. All of her cookies are made without additives, preservatives or artificial flavors.
Leand is thrilled with her cookies' success, and continues to add more stores and distributors. As she continues to invent new varieties, she soon will be coming out with jumbo-sized cookies, and thinks that in a few years she might establish a physical store to sell her creations.