Nearly every time I get back from BC, I am stopped in my tracks: the familiar smell of chocolate chip cookies encapsulating my senses. It certifies that I am home again. My hometown is the home of the factory for Tate’s Cookies (the quintessential green bag housing thin, crispy treats), and I have grown up surrounded by the smell. Whether leaving for school in the morning or returning home after a long ferry commute, Tate’s Cookies has always been in the background.
Tate’s Cookies started out as a bakery both by and for locals of Long Island’s East End. The founder, Kathleen King, started off baking the signature cookies at home at 11 years old. She had an immense passion for baking that she hoped to share with her community. King started Kathleen’s Bake Shop a few decades ago, but was unfortunately cast with a poor business deal that led to its eventual demise. Nevertheless, she rallied the community around her and found strength in their support. She went on to found Tate’s in her father’s name. She put her soul into her bakery, maintaining a storefront in Southampton to ensure community connection while growing her retail presence nationwide. Despite negotiating with private equity firms and high-caliber consumer packaged goods companies, King sustained her values and commitment to Tate’s until she knew her employees could adequately further her mission themselves. King has redirected her earnings from the Tate’s sale into charitable funds, such as Peconic Land Trust. This choice has secured her commitment to sustainable choices, specifically to the wellbeing of the local land. She recognizes the significance Long Island has had on her bakery’s prosperity and hopes to give back to her home, which has given her so much.
She was able to reap this success for Tate’s by launching a product not seen among any other brand: a cookie that is crunchy, buttery, and thin. Tate’s cookies are the “weakness” of so many, King included, and they possess an addicting quality. There is an instantaneous crunch and a hidden addition of salt, allowing for the perfect balance of sweet and savory. As a result, King was able to grow her business from the single Southampton bakery to an internationally recognized company. She has provided a crucial business opportunity for eastern Long Island, which is more known for its agriculture and environment than commercial spaces. Moreover, locals have continued to rally around Tate’s. We feel pride when we spot the signature packaging in a new state, as I know I experienced when first seeing Tate’s in CoRo Café. I was transported home, which helped me recognize how far I have come. With Long Island as my foundation, I utilized this support system to continue finding success at BC, just as King did in growing Tate’s.
Through its unique niche among cookie competitors, Tate’s has solidified its claim in the industry and brought significant attention to its small hometown. Its legacy is about so much more than a cookie. Tate’s is about community, perseverance, and support. I am reminded of this heartening notion each time I spot Tate’s in a new state or notice the distinct aroma when I am home.
Cover photo courtesy of Bon Appétit