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Jaci Krandel: Smart Cookie

Woodstock native Jaci Krandel recently began offering her signature cookies on the square, much to delight of sweets lovers around the county.

Kindergarten has laid the foundation for so many of our positive attributes: playing fair, sharing, cleaning up our own messes and saying you’re sorry. For Jaci Krandel, her learning experience was much tastier in scope.

“My kindergarten teacher would take me home and we’d make cookies together,” she recalled. “We made Nestlé Tollhouse.”Ever since then, she has been making delicious cookies and everybody has liked them. For a long while, however, people have been telling Krandel that she should sell them. “But I was never sure if people really meant it,” she said.

For over a year now, Krandel has followed the advice of her friends and family. She has been making and selling a delicious variety of cookies under Jaci’s Cookies.

“When Terry and Mary Pirro opened the Bella’s Gelateria and Caffe (108 Cass St.) in downtown Woodstock, I thought that adding cookies would be a perfect match,” Krandel said. “I rented some space in the basement and began making cookies there.”

Shandes Knell, Krandel’s kindergarten teacher, passed away when Krandel was in high school and never got to see how her influence inspired this budding enterprise, but undoubtedly would be proud.

Recipes For Success
Over many years Krandel accumulated a notebook of proprietary recipes that she developed. “Some of them were just created in the last year, based on the recipes I use most,” she said. “Some are collected from friends and family; the cookie is then named after that person whose favorite cookie it is.”

In addition to selling her cookies at Bella’s, Krandel also has a huge following at the Woodstock Farmers Market. “I have regular customers who come back every week,” she said. Plans are underway for more sales outlets in and around McHenry County.

Which cookies do customers like most? According to Krandel it’s difficult to evaluate. She gives away a variety of cookies for people to taste test so she can get to know what they want. “Why spend money on something unless you know you’re going to like it?” she asked. “And, usually, once people taste new flavors those become the top sellers.”

Supportive Community
People send cookies to college students, bring cookies to loved ones in the hospital as well as thank friends for lending a helping hand. But they are also good for businesses. A fresh tray of luscious-smelling cookies can open a door to a new business opportunity.

“The Woodstock business community is so supportive and fabulous,” Krandel said. “Cobblestones on the Square makes baskets and bouquets with my cookies. Greg Hanson from the Backdrop is constantly encouraging me and giving me ideas to help me be successful.

“I am very fortunate to be in a small town where people want to help other local businesses and small entrepreneurs.”

Fresh or Frozen
On most days Krandel starts her day at around 5 a.m. to be able to bake and provide customers with the freshest cookies possible.

“I have already started packaging my cookies in a frozen state so if customers want to take them home and bake them they could,” Krandel explained.

“You don’t have to make a mess at home,” she explained. “You don’t even have to mess a pan because you can use parchment paper and really cut down.”

As for the cookies and milk snacks we used to have in kindergarten, well that is one lesson that should not be forgotten.

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