Among Friends Baking Mixes

Darcy’s Showcase display at Natural Products Expo West 2015.

We’re all about names at Among Friends. We like say to say that our name tells it all. We are the founding friends, Suzie and Lizann, and each of our products is named for and inspired by someone we love, and features a short story about that namesake. As the Yiddish proverb goes: “God made man because He loves stories.”

Our newest cookie to come to market is no exception. Our reinvention of the American classic chocolate chip cookie is named Darcy’s delish. It is modeled after the tollhouse cookie, but is whole-grain and gluten-free.

Naming cookies is a little like baking itself, a mixture of magic, memory, the right ingredients, chemistry and temperature. I was on the phone with Suzie one day, describing the new cookie coming out of the test kitchen. The cookie was literally coming together (with no extra gums and starches, I might add) and I was moving into the naming and storytelling part of my job. (After all I’m the perennial English major. )

Among Friends Baking Mixes

Darcy Delish and her daughter.

We both said at the same time, DARCY, we should name the cookie after Darcy. We only had been working with Darcy for a few months, but we knew she was a keeper. Darcy is our CEO, an exemplary leader with 35 years in the food industry. It fit the psychic bill for me: a fundamental cookie for a woman who never loses sight of the business fundamentals.

I wasn’t there when Suzie told Darcy about her new cookie. But she caught Darcy off guard, and she got misty-eyed. That is…Our pragmatic, problem solving head honcho who is so good at conveying feedback in a nonemotional way got misty-eyed.

Naming cookies sometimes brings us interesting fan mail. A motivational speaker named Queayna wrote to say: I am obsessed with your cookies. I want to know if you’ll create a cookie and name it after me in the spirit of entrepreneurship. I’m sending the Suzie Q to my six best friends in the mail. ” We do not yet have a cookie named for Queayna, as our relatives might protest.

Among Friends Baking Mixes

The original evan from heaven.

Our most poignant piece of mail came from Lesley, who lost a young son named Evan to cancer when he was just four. She stumbled upon our Evan’s heavenly oatmeal raisin cookie mix in a routine grocery shop, and it stopped her in her tracks. Because she, too had a blond-haired, blue-eyed Evan from heaven, wise beyond his years and full of enthusiasm. (Evan is my oldest son.) She thanked us for bringing back memories of her Evan because, “for whatever reason I really needed it. ” We have the sweetest photo of this young Evan in our office and it stops us in our tracks several times each week. Helping to remind us why we do what we do.

Speaking of names, Suzie Q dubbed me Lizannabanana, a name I use when I talk to young kids about whole grain baking. Among my several

Among Friends Baking Mixes

Darcy’s fresh from the oven.

Lizannabanana maxims, are some pretty silly ones, like “my kids know I am going out of town if they find white bread on the counter.” But there is one maxim about which I am very serious: “Evan from heaven does not stay seven or eleven for long. Make those years count.”

In what seems like the blink of an eye, my sweet Evan is 20. So stir up some cookies, create family rituals, and tell stories, both silly and serious. But whatever you do, make the years count.