ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN the Newton Tab, Jan. 6, 2014
By Sara Tucker
“We’re the first and only power cookie,” Clancy said. “You get the nutrition of a power bar, and the warm, kind of fuzzy comfort feeling of a cookie.”
The idea for Bonnievilles came to Clancy several years ago, when she was working as a yoga teacher and personal trainer. She taught cooking classes on the side, and her cookie recipe, which eventually developed into Bonnievilles, was popular with her students. That success encouraged Clancy to start selling her peanut butter cookies at farmers markets.
“At the farmers market, people would just be standing in a line right where the cookies were,” she said. “I had a huge table filled with all kinds of things, but people would line up just for the cookies, and we’d sell out every time.”
Clancy said that, after that local success, she knew she had a marketable product.
Clancy began with three types of cookies, but increased to six in early 2012: Chocolate Mint, Salty Peanut, Cocoa Cocoa, Coconut Almond, Peanut Butter Caramel and Cinnamon Maple.
Clancy began baking with her small oven, making only a few cookies at a time, but eventually realized that an upgrade was essential if she wanted to keep up with the demand.
She also wanted to produce a gluten-free product, which she couldn’t do with her own appliances and tools because of concerns about cross-contamination.
“I built a commissary in my house,” Clancy said. “Because it’s brand new, there couldn’t be any cross-contamination. So I got certified gluten-free, and that’s when things really started to take off.”
Clancy stumbled upon her partnership with Whole Foods Market in May 2011 when she asked a store employee how to buy bulk peanut butter. He wanted to know what the peanut butter was for, and she told him about Bonnievilles.
“He asked me if it was something I was interested in selling, and I said yes,” Clancy said. “He said, ‘Why don’t you bring everything you have in so far? I’d like to give them a taste.’ Within an hour, I got a phone call back, and he said, ‘You’ve won the hearts of the bakery team leader and all of the team leaders in the store. We would love to carry your product.’ It was incredible.”
Clancy said partnering with Whole Foods Market felt right.
“I wanted to help people,” she said. “I wanted to get healthier options on the shelves of grocery stores,” Clancy said.
Bonnievilles partnered with a national distributor called United Natural Foods Inc. earlier this year.
Clancy said the sudden increase in demand has meant more production than Clancy’s in-home kitchen can keep up with, so she’s also looking to partner with another company to bake the cookies.
“We started out in just one Whole Foods in Newton – the one on Walnut Street,” she said. “Now we’re in all the Whole Foods in the North Atlantic region, and we’re looking to go into New York.”
In Newton, Bonnievilles can be found in Whole Foods Market, Shaw’s supermarket and Coffee Corner, but Clancy said she is trying to expand the company to make it a more recognizable name.
“When I’m not baking, I’m trying to grow the company,” she said. “My job now is to get us recognized and set us up to go national.”