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Yuba City coffee cookies attracting buzz near and far
He's got folks buzzing at Yellowstone National Park, the Naval Academy, USDA headquarters, and now on Plumas Street.
Buzz Strong — aka Carl Weisberg — got into the cookie business, he says, with a "Go big or go home," attitude.
The New York-born Yuba City resident needed a venture that would help wean him off of a 20-year career as a hard-charging commodities broker.
Naturally, the product he created would have to be caffeinated.
Buzz Strong's Real Coffee Cookie fit the bill.
"I think he hit on a good thing," says Tracy Schneller, who started selling the cookies at her Plumas Street boutique, The Mercantile, just one week ago. "Your body gets used to caffeine, and you're not always in a position to drink it."
Weisberg's caffeinated cookie is sold in Walgreens stores in Northwest states, in a chain of airport stores throughout the US and a smattering of vending machines and gift stores, including those at Yellowstone National Park.
The businessman hatched the idea for his product in 1998 while his wife was having surgery at a Sacramento area hospital, and he was in search of caffeination.
He wandered into the hospital's cafeteria and bought something, he says, "that called itself a coffee cookie."
"It didn't taste good," he says.
When his wife had recovered, she went to work in the kitchen of their home, which was then in Nevada City, to try and create something similar, but more palatable.
"She's a gourmet gal," Weisberg says.
The couple took the result to Mother's Cookies in Oakland, where flavor consultants improved on the recipe.
Weisberg and his wife — president and vice president of the company — settled on ingredients including Belgian-style white and dark chocolate chips made in Canada, vanilla from Tahiti, and coffee from Brazil.
The cookies are produced and packaged at a large commercial bakery in Carson City, Nev., from which they are shipped to distributors.
In the immediate area, the cookies are sold only at The Mercantile and the Dollar Store in Yuba City.
Weisberg is looking to expand the reach of his company's coffee cookie into grocery stores, convenience stores and truck stops.
Meanwhile, a version of Weisberg's product that does not contain coffee or caffeine keeps the business afloat. About 80 percent of the $1 million the company now takes in anually comes from school contracts.
Buzz Strong's makes the only cookies that meet national nutrition guidelines now applied in all public schools, Weisberg boasts.
Locally, caffeine addicts who taste the cookies, Weisberg says, have kept him busy.
Postal workers who saw him deliver boxes of cookies to Schneller's store next door to the post office wanted to try one.
Now, they're regular customers.
"It tastes good, it has a nice fragrance and it has coffee," Weisberg says of his cookie. "What's not to like?"
CONTACT Nancy Pasternack at firstname.lastname@example.org or 749-4781. Find her on Facebook at /ADnpasternack or on Twitter at @ADnpasternack.