Berkeley’s Nuttin ‘Butter Cookies makes a variety of nut butter cookies
When she was only eight years old, Whitney Singletary showed the first signs of being an entrepreneur. She had her eye on a motorcycle-shaped water toy that was making engine sounds and bubbles in the water, but when she asked her mom for it, she said no. Rather than sulk, the young Singletary wondered how she could earn the money to buy it herself. She found the answer in a batch of cookies.
Singletary grew up in the kitchen of her grandfather’s restaurant in Bakersfield. Family members would always be there to help, and whatever they did she would be “right there to watch and taste,” she said. Being in the kitchen regularly, Singletary started cooking quite quickly. She made a batch of cookies on her own and brought them to school.
“I asked the principal if I could sell them after school or during lunch,” she recalls. “He bought me one and liked it so much that he told all the staff. My friends couldn’t even try them because the teachers bought them all.
She raised enough money to buy the toy, and over the years she continued to cook whenever she needed money to spend. Years later, as an adult, she turned her childhood hobby into a career.
In 2015, Singletary had a dream in which she saw her future: she was an entrepreneur selling baked goods.
“It was clear that I had to start now,” she said of this time in her life. “So I went to the kitchen.”
Singletary started Nut butter cookies in 2016. She got a cottage permit to cook in her home’s kitchen, then set up a stand to sell her cookies outside her home on Dwight Way in Berkeley.
She realized that she needed a unique specialty for her mission “to be the gas station in the middle of the desert, where people have no choice but to get it from me, for you you can’t get it anywhere else for miles ”.
Once again, she found inspiration in her family roots. When Singletary was growing up, her family made a special type of peanut butter cookie; they were a staple of family reunions. The original recipe came from his grandfather’s great-grandmother. Singletary thinks it dates back to 1850.
“It was so starting from scratch, that you would start by plucking your peanuts, cleaning them, roasting them, crushing them, and then churning butter,” she said. “Over the years my great aunt condensed it to ‘buy butter’, but I remember these stories being told to me.”
To make it her own, she began replacing various nut butters with peanut butter, including cashew butter, a favorite food of one of her sons.
Her first experiments were a disaster, she said, because the oil content of walnuts is very different. But eventually, she came up with unique recipes for each version of the cookie, tinkering with them until their textures and flavors were just right.
The cookies satisfied his concept of a “gas station in the desert” – no one else sold such a range of nut butter cookies. But wasn’t it risky to start a business on nut butter cookies when nut allergies are so prevalent now? It doesn’t, Singletary says.
“Only 2% of the population is allergic to nuts,” she said. “So that leaves 98% of people who can eat them. “
Nuttin ‘Butter Cookies offers a total of 12 different cookies. If you can think of a type of nut that comes in the form of nut butter, there’s a good chance it has a cookie made with it. In addition to the more obvious ones like almond, walnut, and pecan, it also offers pistachio, hazelnut, Brazil nut, and pine nut varieties. Singletary, she also has one with ground sesame seeds and one with no nuts at all, just plain butter, and has two more flavors on the way.
For Nuttin ‘Butter’s peanut butter cookies, Singletary turns to the family recipe (changing it isn’t negotiable for her, she said), which uses Jif-branded peanut butter, but all its other varieties are made with organic nut butters. Singletary is also working to use other organic ingredients, but with the size of her operation, her eggs and butter are sourced from local supermarkets, so she is limited by what is in stock during the pandemic, he said. she declared.
His journey at the helm of Nuttin ‘Butter has not been without challenges, even before the coronavirus crisis.
In its first year in business, Singletary moved into an apartment complex that was supposed to be a non-smoking building. It turned out that the other tenants were constantly smoking which made Singletary’s asthma worse. When she complained to the landlord, the tenants assaulted her for being a “snitch,” she said. The attack took her to hospital with a concussion and a fractured hand; it took four months before she could cook again. In addition, she would end up losing some of the use of her left hand due to a poorly administered flu shot.
In 2016, she moved into her home in Dwight Way and applied for a small business loan. Loan officers were encouraging over the phone, but changed their mind when they met her in person, a common occurrence that black entrepreneurs face, she said.
But rather than discourage her, it had the opposite effect.
“I am a Lion,” Singletary explained. “You can’t say ‘no’ to me when my mind is fixed on something. I am constantly stubborn.
After getting her cottage license, she began selling her cookies in her driveway, putting as much profit as possible into new equipment, growing her business one bowl and one plate at a time.
Singletary tried to find a commercial kitchen space, so she could sell her cookies in stores, but every local kitchen she found had a peanut-free rule. Many are also wheat-free, which also ruled out it.
Trying to find a storefront to sell his cookies also proved to be a challenge. As a new business owner, one landlord requested proof of six months’ rent from her bank account in case her business went bankrupt. She didn’t have it.
Eventually, Singletary found an owner who would rent her a storefront. She started selling Nuttin ‘Butter cookies at 2521 San Pablo Ave. in September 2019, but when the pandemic started, she decided that selling down her aisle would be safer because she still bakes the cookies in her home kitchen. Sadly, she still has to pay the rent for the San Pablo storefront until her lease ends in a few months.
“It’s definitely a challenge, especially with all the exterior elements,” she said of setting up her booth in the aisle. “Even with the wind, rain and hail, I was there. I am like the post office.
Some of its customers pre-order online for pickup or delivery; some stop and choose from everything she has at her booth. Sometimes his mother or sons help out with the business. On good days, she can sell up to 300 cookies.
While she has faced numerous roadblocks, many of which are due to racial discrimination, Singletary has found support in unexpected places.
One night, she got ready when a police officer approached her booth. Someone reported her, believing her cookie sales were illegal.
She explained the terms of her cabin license to him and gave him a cookie.
“He sat in his car and looked at it, and I thought ‘Weird’,” she said. “After he ate it he came back and shook my hand and said ‘You have a new customer for life.'”
Just as the principal of his elementary school told all the teachers about his cookies all those years ago, the cop told all his fellow police officers. And now even the firefighters are buying her cookies these days. Since she often sells cookies until around 8 p.m., she is happy that the police stop, not only to buy cookies, but also to watch her.
And, luckily for her, “the Berkeley cops eat cookies like donuts.”
Nuttin ‘Butter Cookies is open from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m., Monday to Friday. Cookies can be pre-ordered online for pickup or free local delivery on orders over $ 24.