Pacific Cookie Company is celebrating its 35th anniversary this year after opening way back in 1980. In addition to baking tasty cookies, they’ve been doing some delicious things over the years. Here are the sweetest fifteen you should know.
1. Just like their cookies, the bakery started from scratch.
Back in 1980, Larry and Shelley Pearson opened the original bakery at the Pacific Garden Mall in Downtown Santa Cruz. The couple wanted a stable and sustainable way to support their two young daughters, Cara and Stacy, so they took their own entrepreneurial drive (and cues from a cookie store they’d seen in Downtown Carmel), and perfected their own gourmet cookie recipes in a few months.
2. They’re a fixture of Santa Cruz.
If you go to Santa Cruz, everyone’s heard about Pacific Cookie Company (and almost certainly had one of their classic chocolate chip cookies). The cookie company is named after the iconic Pacific Avenue in Downtown Santa Cruz, and they have relationships with different suppliers in Santa Cruz (the same place has made their cookie dough for more than twenty years!) that are decades old.
3. They have 14 different and delicious flavors.
The original five cookies in 1980 were Chocolate Chip, Chocolate Chip Walnut, Oatmeal Raisin, Peanut Butter and Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip, but they now sell 14 different varieties, including new flavors like Lemon Drop (sugar cookie with a tart lemon tang) and Mint Condition (dark chocolate cookie dotted with mint chips).
4. They’ve always been a family business.
Some of Cara’s fondest memories include scooping out the daily cookie dough with her sister, Stacy, and smelling the scent of fresh-baked cookies when their dad came home. Cara now manages all of the operations, and has been doing so since 1995.
Larry and Shelley still come in to help out at the bakery, and the business now supports three full (and growing) families. Cara’s daughters have started helping out too, scooping cookie dough just like their mom and their grandparents had years before.
5. Their employees are practically family too.
Vanessa, the current manager of the Berkeley bakery, started as a regular employee back in 1990 and has been with the company ever since, moving up to lead the opening of Pacific Cookie Company in Berkeley.
6. Their cookies are freshly-baked every day.
Every morning at 8 am, the bakeries hand scoop the cookie dough and bake the cookies fresh. They also continue to bake new batches every few hours, and keep dozens in a warmer, so you can always come in for a hot, fresh cookie!
7. They use local, quality ingredients.
All of the chocolate in their cookies (and their chocolate dips) are from Guittard chocolate in San Francisco, and their flour, eggs and other ingredients all come from local farmers as well.
8. The community is just as important to them as their cookies.
In both Santa Cruz and Berkeley, Pacific Cookie Company has donated to countless non-profits and student organizations. Last year they donated hundreds of cookies to the Berkeley Dance Marathon for the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, five hundred more to the Berkeley Food Pantry, and more to Spoon University at Berkeley!
9. You can get a free cookie every day.
That’s right, no charge. The bakery posts a special word (or task) on their Facebook page every day — all you have to do is say the word and you’ll get that day’s free cookie!
10. …and try a new flavor at the same time.
They know how popular the classics are, like Chocolate Chip and Snickerdoodle, so the free cookie is usually a newer variety like Cherry Bomb (sugar cookie with sour cherries) or Dark Chocolate Cranberry to encourage you to try some of their out-of-the-box (but just as delicious) flavors!
11. You can help out a non-profit just by eating their cookies.
The second Tuesday of every month is their bakeries’ non-profit day, where 25% of all their sales for that day go to a different non-profit. Some of the nonprofits they have helped include the Berkeley Free Clinic and the Boy’s and Girl’s Club of Santa Cruz. You can also purchase their cookies online, where a dollar of all of their gift order purchases go to the Cookies for Kids Cancer fund.
12. Their cookies are affordable.
Cookies at Starbucks or another coffee shop will usually set you back at least two bucks. But a cookie from PCC? Only $1.10.
13. And they still have half price specials three times a week.
Every Saturday night, from 8 pm-10 pm, cookies are buy one get one free. Yup, for those glorious two hours, you can get two gourmet cookies for the price of just one. Then, on Tuesday evenings from 4 pm-11 pm, ice cream is 50% off at only $1.50 for a scoop. Oh, and Thursday afternoons? From 4 pm-7 pm, their cookies and ice cream deal comes at half price. Three days of the week just got sweeter.
14. They overcame the 1989 Earthquake.
When the 1989 San Francisco Earthquake hit the Bay Area, it took the original Santa Cruz store down with it. But the Pearsons persevered; they focused on their wholesale production while they waited for a space to reopen in Downtown Santa Cruz and even worked through the night at the kitchens of Erik’s Delicatessen to keep baking their cookies. (They eventually reopened in 1995, right across from their original location in Downtown Santa Cruz).
15. Their cookies take ice cream to the next level.
Sure, ice cream cookie sandwiches have gotten popular over the last few years, but PCC has always sold rich Marriane’s ice cream to go with their soft, chewy cookies. Cara recommends the 10/20 (caramel ice cream with a fudge swirl and Oreo’s) sandwiched between two snicker doodle cookies.
A huge thank you to the Pearson family and Pacific Cookie Company Staff for their time and delicious cookies! Our team at Spoon will always be huge fans.