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Food The Bakery Behind Doubletree's Famous Chocolate Chip Cookie Bakes More Than 100 Million Cookies A Year

20:15  14 november  2019
20:15  14 november  2019 Source:   delish.com

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a close up of food on a plate: The secret behind DoubleTree's iconic (and free!) welcome chocolate chip cookie lies with Christie Cookies, a Nashville Bakery that's been making the cookies for 20+ years.© Instagram / @christiecookieco The secret behind DoubleTree's iconic (and free!) welcome chocolate chip cookie lies with Christie Cookies, a Nashville Bakery that's been making the cookies for 20+ years.

The journey it takes to get from your home to a hotel can be long and winding. It may involve missed flights, delays, traffic, or any number of nuisances ranging from annoying to infuriating. But if you're staying at a DoubleTree, there's a light at the end of the tunnel: a warm, freshly baked chocolate chip cookie, free of charge.

Anyone who's stayed at a DoubleTree knows it well—the company makes sure of it, baking a cookie for each expected guest and timing it just so to be sure there's one ready and waiting on arrival. "The temperature is a very important part of the experience," Doubletree's SVP and Global Head of DoubleTree by Hilton Shawn McAteer told Delish when we picked his brain about all things cookie.

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And if you've ever wondered how the gooey, warm dessert you're handed at check-in came to be, we have the answer: It all starts with Christie Cookie Co.

The company, based in Nashville, TN, holds the secret to one of the veritable cookie icons, a recipe created in collaboration with DoubleTree chefs in the '90s. In the decade prior to that, DoubleTree offered chocolate chip cookies at turndown service, with each hotel's chef putting their own spin on the recipe.

The idea for a free cookie came out of the desire to differentiate DoubleTree from a bevy of hotel chains that had begun to all look and feel the same, Shawn says. At a team meeting, general managers tossed out gift ideas ranging from sunglasses to visors to golf balls, none of which resonated with the folks in charge. It wasn't until one manager stopped into a mom-and-pop bakery for a snack that he realized something edible could be the answer.

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"It was almost a little bit of luck, in terms of this guy just stopping into a cookie shop when they were trying to figure it out," Shawn admits.

A few years after the cookie giveaway had been established, the hotel switched the offering to check-in, so they could ensure every guest would be able to enjoy one (not everyone requests or accepts turndown service). And in 1996, Doubletree decided every cookie should taste the same.

Fatefully, Toby Wilt, an investor in Christie Cookie Co., happened to be buddies with the two men who founded DoubleTree (this was pre-Hilton days, too). A deal was struck for Christie to create the official recipe for every chocolate chip cookie DoubleTree handed out worldwide. With help from a handful of DoubleTree chefs, the recipe you know and love today was born. And in the 20-plus years since then, it's hardly changed at all, Toby's son and current Christie president, Fleming Wilt, told Delish.

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Today, out of a 20,000-square-foot facility, Christie Cookie Co. produces around 30 million DoubleTree cookies every year, shipping frozen dough to every DoubleTree in North America as well as some in Latin America. The hotel chain now operates in 47 countries worldwide, and suppliers in others regions follow the beloved Christie recipe to replicate the same exact taste.

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A post shared by Christie Cookie Co. (@christiecookieco) on Aug 26, 2019 at 10:07am PDT

"For the most part, we’ve kept the same exact flavor and type of cookie every day, every hotel, every year," Shawn notes. "We want it to be consistent."

Interestingly, Christie Cookie Co. also makes cookies for some other recognizable brands: United and American Airlines are customers, as are California Pizza Kitchen, Blaze Pizza, Honey Baked Ham, and Kroger. In Nashville, the company operates two retail shops where customers can buy a dozen different cookie flavors—while Doubletree's cookie has and will remain chocolate chip, at the Germantown and 12 South shops, there's room to play.

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Back at DoubleTree, the science behind the cookie delivery is real. In order to get enough cookies to every hotel, operations teams keep a close eye on how many guests are coming in and out as well as what time they usually come. After all, "The one thing you cannot ever, ever, ever do is run out of cookies," Chief Cookie Officer Chef Roger Maune told me. And for the sake of taste and quality, "they're never more than 12 hours old."

Roger functions as both the ambassador of the iconic cookies and the Executive Chef of DoubleTree by Hilton's San Jose location. There, he encourages his team to play around with the cookie. While the recipe itself is sacred, guests are sometimes treated to it in different iterations, like in ice cream sandwich form during an afternoon snack break.

Chef Roger is the one who, every week, is sent a cookie sheet with the hotel's projected occupancy for each day. He purchases the cookies, making sure the kitchen is well stocked for the weekend rush, when businesses and sports teams often take over, packing rooms more tightly than usual and upping the dessert count needed.

He's also, on occasion, the keeper of the cookie, handing out treats to guests checking in. (They're kept in a warming tray beneath the welcome counter!) That sometimes includes repeat offenders, though they tend to be from the under-10 set. "We don't say no to the kids if they come back up and, 'Can I get a cookie?'," Roger admits.

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a man cooking in an oven: Chef Roger Maune manning the cookie oven.© Josh Edelson Chef Roger Maune manning the cookie oven.

After all, the whole purpose of the cookie is to drive home DoubleTree's broader goal of creating a space in which you can relax and feel at home. "It became this icon of our warm caring service culture that really comes to life through the delivery of that cookie," Shawn says of the brand's signature welcome cookie.

And for as long as Fleming is around—and Roger and Shawn, who both echo the statement—the cookie will remain the same. "It's really the iconic food of the hotel industry," Fleming says of DoubleTree's cookie. "And I sure hope it doesn't change. It won't be my decision, but I sure hope it won't change."

Four hundred seventy two million DoubleTree cookies later, it seems as if the sweet formula is here to stay.

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