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“Sweet Deal” For The Cookie Dough Ladies

By Pat Shaver The Pantagraph, Bloomington, Ill.

A pair of Twin City sisters now have money for automated packaging and have increased orders of their edible cookie dough product.

Julia Schmid and Joan Pacetti, owners of Cookie Dough Cafe in Normal, appeared last month on ABC's "Shark Tank," where entrepreneurs pitch their business ideas to a panel of millionaire investors in hopes of negotiating a deal.

Schmid, who said she couldn't discuss details of an agreement made with two "sharks," did acknowledge the $100,000 investment will be used to automate the company's packaging process.

Currently, Schmid and Pacetti are the only employees and do all of the packaging. They hope to open a production facility that could process thousands of pints of cookie dough a day.

"The exposure itself just to be on TV made our business completely explode. Our orders have just increased over 10 times, its really insane," Schmid said. "Our phone rings about every 45 seconds. Joan and I work all day everyday."

Cookie Dough Cafe, which features flavors of an edible cookie dough dessert, started selling its products locally at The Fresh Market. The business is now in 108 stores nationwide. The dessert can be eaten by itself, or added to ice cream or a baked cookie. In March, Schmid said the product will be in another 50 Fresh Market stores.

"We started in Illinois and now we're in over 30 states. This year we hope to be in all 50 states and I think we'll be in some really big national chains," Schmid said.

For Shark Tank, the sisters submitted an online application, were screened and flown to Los Angeles for the show. They accepted a deal from Lori Greiner, a well-known personality on QVC home shopping network, and Steve Tisch, co-owner of the New York Giants, who agreed to the investment in return for a 30 percent stake in the company.

Before starting the company, Pacetti was a stay-at-home mom. Schmid owns Central Illinois RVs. The two grew up in Clinton and now live in the Twin Cities.

The dessert is safe to eat raw because the recipe does not include eggs, which can carry salmonella bacteria. Flavors available include chocolate chip, monster and cookies and cream. It costs $6.99 a pint.

"Our love of baking has been going on since we were little kids. We come from a family of seven and our mom always baked and we always ate the cookie dough out of the bowl," she said.

The product is not a shortcut for cookies, because it lacks baking soda or baking powder.

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