January 18, 2020

A Kosher Cookie Company Spinoff for Bibi’s Bakery

Photos by Stephanie Waisler-Rubin

Dan Messinger, who has owned Bibi’s Bakery Cafe in Pico-Robertson since 2011, has launched his second business, the Kosher Cookie Company, which will provide kosher-pareve (OK supervision) custom cookies for special occasions like b’nai mitzvah parties, holiday celebrations and donor relations campaigns. 

The website went live on Dec. 15, just in time for Hanukkah. 

“For the past few years, we have been looking for a second location to produce at because of the space limits of the Pico location,” Messinger told the Journal. “We are often close to capacity [in terms of] what we can produce out of that space.” 

Messinger came up with the idea for the second business because “L.A. didn’t seem to have a hechshered, pareve, custom cookie-type bakery.” He noted that other “big-name” bakeries would do a special order “but no one was specializing.” When he saw the name Kosher Cookie Company was available, Messinger said he realized it “could be good as a business opportunity but also as a brand to create. It piqued the interest of my old self, who was working with brand management and brand influencing.” 

At the second baking location, also in the neghborhood, the bakers produce batches of classic sugar cookie dough, decorated with blue and white or other color sprinkles. Special orders might call for cookies to be personalized, frosted with a name or custom logo, or whatever the customer wants, Messinger said. His company uses printable icing sheets (they are pareve and have a slight vanilla flavor, Messinger said) and edible inks. Other assortments available on the website include shortbread cookies and chocolate tea cookies, which, he quips in a British accent, “Is a cookie that’s very good with a ‘cuppa’ tea.”

Cookie packages run from $12.95 for a “Bucket-o-Cookies” to $39.95 for assorted cookie platters or a cookie sheet cake. Hanukkah Cookie Bundles are $24.95-$54.95, depending on quantity, and consist of special hand-decorated cookies alongside assorted dreidel, menorah and Magen David sugar cookies in a Hanukkah-themed package. In the store, a half-pound box costs $6. Between orders and in-store pickup, Messinger said his company expecting to make a few thousand cookies in its inaugural holiday season. 

Messinger is hoping his community connections and the relationships he’s forged over the years will yield loyal and happy customers. For instance, for Rosh Hashanah this year, the Jewish Free Loan Association (JFLA) thanked more than a hundred of its biggest donors with a thank-you note in a package containing specialty Kosher Cookie Company cookies shaped and decorated like an apple or a beehive (for the traditional honey for a sweet new year). Some cookies were printed with the JFLA logo. The cookies, and the text accompanying them, also showed donors the impact of JFLA loans, since Messinger received a JFLA loan to help support his business. 

JFLA Executive Director Rachel Grose told the Journal that Messinger was “exceptional to work with,” explaining how he had consulted with the association on the look of the cookies, suggesting different options. When the JFLA made requests, “He always said yes,” Grose said. “And they tasted great.” 

Dan Messinger; Photos by Stephanie Waisler-Rubin

The Kosher Cookie Company has been taking smaller special orders for a few months, serving local organizations and businesses. But now the “sky is the limit for cookie production,” Messinger said, adding that he can fill orders from several dozen to several hundred, given the proper advance notice.

The cookies are pareve but not vegan (although vegan can be requested), and they aren’t gluten-free. Most of the recipes don’t use nuts, but thanks to some Russian wedding cookies and baklava, it’s not a nut-free facility.

Messinger hopes that his latest venture will have the same success as Bibi’s did when he took it over right before Hanukkah in 2011 and had to make vast quantities of sufganiyot. The experience, he said, was “a trial by fryer,” adding, “The miracle of Hanukkah is that I’m still in business.” 

That first year, he said, Bibi’s made “an ungodly amount of doughnuts,” estimating several thousand for the season. This year, he estimates, the bakery likely will do several thousand in a single day, depending on special orders. 

Sufganiyot are now available from Bibi’s through the end of Hanukkah, showcasing some of Bibi’s “greatest hits” flavors: classic strawberry jelly, custard, chocolate creme custard and two “super special” flavors: chocolate chip cookie dough and a cinnamon bun with cinnamon creme, each encased in sufganiyah dough and fried. Messinger noted that the prices are the same as last year — $2 each and $20 for a dozen, except the specialty flavors, which are slightly higher. 

Photos by Stephanie Waisler-Rubin

Both Bibi’s and the Kosher Cookie Company are ritually kosher and are supervised by the OK. But as a statement on the website says, “a kosher life is more than just about ingredients.” 

“Living a kosher life isn’t just about what you put into your mouth,” Messinger said. “It’s about the value that you have. Ten percent of any profits will be donated to hunger-type charities. That’s part of the gestalt of the idea of the Kosher Cookie Company.”