A newlywed Corvallis couple is using one of their favorite hobbies to help residents find joy and comfort during the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Isaac and Callie Kennel, owners of Coocoos Cookies, launched their home-based business on Sept. 3, that was months in the making. Near the beginning of the pandemic, Callie Kennel said, the couple wanted to surprise their friends with cookies to spread some cheer during quarantine.
“We were just feeling really disconnected from our friends,” she said.
So, using their favorite from-scratch chocolate chip cookie recipe, the couple baked a batch of the good stuff and left them on the doorsteps of people they knew.
“We ding-dong-ditched everybody, basically,” Callie Kennel said. “We ding-dong-ditched my boss at 7 a.m. So that was a really fun morning.”
What was a fun idea, however, turned into a lightbulb moment.
“We were just surprised with how much people liked it,” she said. “Food delivery got really popular and quarantine just kept going and going. So we decided that we could probably make it bigger and give people the opportunity to send (cookies) to one another.”
The Kennels have been trying to support local businesses in pursuit of their own, Callie added. Burst's Candies supplies their chocolate chips, 2% milk (which can be added to orders) is from Umpqua Dairy and they plan on getting branded shirts printed at Shirt Circuit.
For now, they only sell milk chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate chip cookies, but Isaac Kennel teased that there may be a white chocolate-hazelnut flavor in the mix soon, with the hazelnuts sourced from his family orchard.
The company's name comes from Callie Kennel, a lifelong chocolate chip cookie lover, who mispronounced the word “cookies” as "coocoos" when she was a toddler.
Throughout her relationship with her husband, they’ve shared a passion for from-scratch cookies.
“It’s kind of cathartic when you’re mixing the dough up and making it into perfect dough balls,” Isaac Kennel said. “Callie and I enjoy baking and cooking a lot, so it’s enjoyable.”
The two first met while working in Salt Lake City, when “a hot new girl started at work,” as Issac Kennel recalled.
“In our first ‘real job’ out of college, our cubicles were back to back,” Callie Kennel said. “So there was quite a bit of time to get to know each other.”
The two “started clicking pretty fast” according to Isaac Kennel, and began dating. When Isaac Kennel, a fifth-generation farmer, eventually returned to Oregon to help head his family’s Majestic Oak Farms based in Monmouth, the couple got engaged and his fiancee followed him to Oregon shortly thereafter.
They married last August, moved into their Southtown Corvallis home in May, “and now here we are making cookies,” Callie Kennel said.
Because they work full-time — Isaac Kennel with his family farm and Callie Kennel with the Oregon State University Alumni Association — the two decided to make their cookie business mostly a weekend operation. But they've also stepped up to help out the community, like donating cookies to a hotel movie night for wildfire evacuees in Corvallis.
They make deliveries between 7 p.m. and midnight Thursdays through Sundays only, but orders can be placed ahead of time too. Every order is a box of 4 jumbo-sized cookies for $10, plus a $3.99 delivery fee. Customers can also request to have a note written on the box of cookies if their order is a gift.
For now, the couple only delivers to Corvallis addresses, but they make an exception if a request is sent through their website. Isaac Kennel said they’re willing to see how the business grows and expand it “as far as it takes us.”
In the meantime, Callie Kennel said, their business model is simple: the cookies are ordered, the cookies are baked, then the cookies are delivered. Their only hope is that they’re “helping people feel a little more connected and not so miserable all the time” during the pandemic.
“We have nothing else to do,” she said. “Might as well make cookies.”
For more information about the Kennels and their business, visit coocooscookies.com.
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