By Desiree Johnson
Killeen Daily Herald
At 5:45 in the morning, Russell and Katherine Robbins are already awake, the coffee is already brewed, and fresh cookie sheets of gingerbread men and frosted Christmas tree sugar cookies rest on the back counter at Cookie Addiction in Harker Heights.
Before the sun has risen, the couple mixes and rolls batter in the kitchen while making jokes and listening to country music.
"I don't like getting up so early, but Russell gets up earlier than I do," Katherine said. "He's witty at all hours."
When Russell and Katherine decided to open a bakery, the idea wasn't too far from home. Katherine's mother owned a cookie bakery in California, and her recipes were sold to seven different bakeries in the area.
"If they want to use mom's recipes, they have to ask her directly," Katherine said. "I grew up helping out in her bakery, but I don't think my old aircraft mechanic of a husband planned on making cookies for a living."
"It's true, I can fix a helicopter, but I can't mix cookie dough," Russell laughed, scooping batter onto cookie sheets. "I'm happy just being the scooper, but I am allowed to make chocolate chip (cookies) now."
A military veteran, Russell served in Iraq and Kuwait before taking on cookies full time. Cookie Addiction sends a variety of cookies overseas to soldiers and even ships them off. A map hangs on the lobby wall marking the places –
from Philadelphia to Afghanistan – Cookie Addiction has sent its goods.
Each day, the shop has a different selection of fresh cookies available. Wednesdays, for example, feature coconut crispies, snickerdoodles, sugar-reduced cookies, chocolate white chocolate cookies and rascals – a mix of chocolate and peanut-butter cookie batter. You can get single cookies for 95 cents and a dozen for $11.40, but prices tend to change as the prices of ingredients change.
The couple has to make arrangements for days that are slower, too. "We just never know how business is going to be each day," Katherine said. "Sometimes we only have a couple dozen left and other days we have a lot more."
So what happens to leftover cookies? They end up bagged and marked down as "day old," available for purchase another day. The unpurchased cookies are placed in bags in a freezer. Once the freezer is full, the bags are donated to Families in Crisis, a shelter for family violence and sexual assault in Killeen.
For those who might think working around such treats would be too tempting, Katherine said she and her husband "don't really eat a lot of cookies unless it's something new."
However, "We just finished making gingerbread for the holiday season and they got demolished."
Katherine said it took four separate gingerbread recipes before they found the right one. "Once we figured it out, we had to stop eating them to sell a few," she laughed.
They're not the only ones sneaking cookies for breakfast. The couple's three girls, Kailla, 13; Ashly, 12; and Leanne, 7, are involved in Cookie Addiction's success too.
"They're not supposed to (eat cookies for breakfast), but they do," Katherine said. "Sometimes they create cookies themselves, like Leanne's Chocolate M&M's, but mostly they just want to be tasters." The store's radio advertisement catchphrase, "See the cookie, want the cookie, come to Cookie Addiction," was even created by Leanne.
On Sundays, the whole family comes together to clean the entire bakery to prepare for the upcoming week.
"I'm surrounded by estrogen," Russell chuckled. "I call them 'the chicks': three kids, two birds, one dog, one cat, two gerbils and two fish – all female."
Katherine disagrees. "We're not sure about the fish," she said.
Cookie Addiction is open to ease your cravings from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.
For more information on Cookie Addiction, call (254) 698-4800. The shop is at 716 Indian Trail, suite 170, Harker Heights.
Contact Desiree Johnson at email@example.com or call (254) 501-7559