A Comparison Of The 12 Largest Cookie-Based Franchises

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While nearly everyone has a soft spot in their heart for warm, gooey cookies, we each have our own preferences when it comes to choosing a cookie recipe or a store to purchase our sweet fix. Thankfully, there are a plethora of possible cookie resources available. Some people will only eat cookies that they’ve made themselves, while others will happily eat cookie dough or premade cookies from the store. Some people actually enjoy eating uncooked cookie dough. (You need not fear our judgment.)

One option that might offer the best of all worlds is a cookie chain, which provides high-quality, mouth-watering cookies with none of the baking hassle. The only catch is that you need to be in close proximity to a store if you want the best cookies. With some cookie chains, you can order nationwide delivery or even find packaged products in grocery stores. While these choices may be tasty, it’s important to remember that they’re not likely to compare favorably to freshly baked cookies.

Our in-house cookie connoisseurs have evaluated 12 popular cookie stores across the United States and ranked them according to overall quality, flavor variety, price, and accessibility. Here’s what we gleaned from our visits to trendy neighborhood bakeries and ubiquitous mall cookie kiosks.

1. Crumbl Cookies

Crumbl

Crumbl Cookies, a fast-growing franchise known for its warm, gooey, and elaborate cookies, is arguably the most popular cookie chain in the world. Crumbl’s rapid expansion to over 200 stores in 32 states can be attributed in large part to the success of the company’s aggressive social media campaign, which prominently features TikTok videos of its delicious cookies.

Crumbl has close to two hundred gourmet flavors available, but only about six of them are ever in stock. The menu changes every week, so you’ll have to come back to try everything. Keep in mind that each cookie (ostensibly) contains 4 portions. Expect a significant calorie deficit with each visit because you won’t want to eat only a quarter of a cookie or split it with anyone.

Crumbl uses elaborate frosting methods and a plethora of toppings to create cookie flavors that are both unique and delicious. For instance, in the Chocolate Cake variety, you’d get a chocolate cookie covered in chocolate fudge frosting and sprinkled with chocolate shavings. The Peanut Butter Banana variation substitutes dried banana chips for the fresh ones and tops a chunky oatmeal cookie with banana frosting and peanut butter. The combination of tastes is always harmonious. The exquisite presentation of these cookies in their own signature pink boxes makes them perfect for sharing on social media. Some people might find the intensity of the flavors to be too much, but we welcome the challenge.

2. Insomnia Cookies

Insomnia Cookies

Insomnia Cookies were the brainchild of Seth Berkowitz, a student at the University of Pennsylvania, who developed the idea for the cookies in his dorm room after one too many late-night hankerings for something warm and sweet. In 2018, Krispy Kreme’s parent company, JAB Holdings, bought a sizable share of this cookie company. There are now more than 200 Insomnia Cookies shops around the world, each selling a variety of traditional and deluxe cookies, brownies, and blondies. Insomnia’s cookies are irresistibly tasty and melt in your mouth, and the shop also sells ice cream cookie sandwiches that are almost too good to be true, in addition to cookie butter, cookie cakes, and ice cream. Insomnia Cookies is the only cookie chain that can truly satisfy a late-night snack craving because it delivers as late as 3 in the morning (from some locations).

Chocolate chunk, oatmeal raisin, double chocolate chunk, peanut butter chip, and white chocolate macadamia are just a few of the traditional cookie varieties that can be made vegan and gluten-free. From the premium menu, you can order mouthwatering cookies like the S’mores, Confetti Deluxe, and Salted Caramel varieties. Did I forget to mention the assortment of holiday cookies? They are always present, no matter the season. Plus, if you don’t live near an Insomnia Cookies store, you can have certain products shipped.

3. Mrs. Fields

Mrs. Fields

Debbi Fields (also known as “Mrs. Fields”) introduced these tasty cookies to the world in 1977, and they have remained a perennial favorite ever since. Forty-one percent of people who took part in an exclusive Mashed survey agreed that Mrs. Fields is the best cookie chain. It is also one of the largest cookie chains in the United States, with prominent brand recognition. Mrs. Fields has 250 locations worldwide, and many of them can be found inside of shopping centers. In addition to these bakeries, many products from this brand can be ordered online and delivered to your door. Some products come prepackaged and can be found in supermarkets.

Mrs. Fields has grown over the years, but its commitment to high-quality ingredients has remained constant. Semisweet chocolate, triple chocolate, white chocolate macadamia nut, oatmeal raisin walnut, and cinnamon sugar are some of the most popular varieties of cookies. You can also find cookie cakes, chocolate-dipped fruit, and a wide selection of jolly gift tins, boxes, and baskets, not to mention nibbles like Nibblers, Frosted Cookies, and Brownie Bites. We love Mrs. Fields for its classic flavors, quality ingredients, widespread availability, and pure yumminess.

4. Levain Bakery

Levain Bakery

Put your faith in a New York City baker. “Not just a cookie, but *the* cookie” is the slogan for Levain Bakery, and it says it all. These incredible cookies have a generous serving size of 6 ounces, a crispy exterior, and a soft, chewy interior, just as cookies should be. West Coasters, rejoice! The bakery is coming soon to Los Angeles, expanding the chain beyond its current 13 locations (all in the East and Midwest). The good news is that no matter where you are in the country, Levain can bake and ship your cookie order the very same day you place it. Check out our Levain Chocolate Chip Cookies Copycat Recipe for an even more authentic, straight-from-the-oven flavor. (Yum!)

Two-Chips Chocolate Chip, Chocolate Chip Walnut, Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip, Dark Chocolate Chocolate Chip (which has even inspired a beer), and Oatmeal Raisin are just a few of Levain’s cookies’ classic flavors given a modern twist. You won’t get the full, freshly baked, ooey-gooey cookie experience unless you live close to one of the bakery locations.

5. Milk Bar

Milk Bar

Milk Bar’s cookies, cakes, pies, and truffles are legendary, and it only has a few locations across the country. Products are also sold in conventional grocery stores, and the company offers nationwide delivery. In a recent interview, we discussed the company’s holiday promotions (including a Fruit of the Loom collaboration), cookie gift exchanges, and Christina Tosi’s latest cookbook, “All About Cookies.” (By the way, all you cookie lovers, those are some tasty-looking recipes.) Tosi also gave us a few Milk Bar baking tricks, like using clear vanilla extract to get a fluffy, light end product.

Milk Bar might not be for you if you prefer more traditional cookie flavors. However, Milk Bar cookies are a lot of fun if you like to shake things up a bit. The bakery’s baked goods often feature unexpected components; for instance, one variety of “Compost cookie” contains not only chocolate chips but also pretzels, potato chips, graham crackers, coffee, oats, and butterscotch. Other popular Milk Bar cookies include Cornflake Chocolate Chip Marshmallow, Chocolate Confetti Cookie, Confetti, Corn Cookie, and Blueberry & Cream. In sum, Milk Bar’s cookies are delicious, novel, and widely available in convenient packaging. If only there were more fresh bakery locations nationwide.

6. Dirty Dough

Dirty Dough

These cookies aren’t pretty or elaborate in any way. The Dirty Dough cookie chain instead emphasizes “cookies with character” that are “proudly unique, inside and out.” If you’re a fan of complex desserts, you’ll love the Dirty Dough cookie flavors for their wonderful jumble of layers, mix-ins, and fillings. Some of the stuffed flavors may be too much for your tastes if you like your cookies on the simpler side. The chain offers a rotating menu of signature cookies and weekly specials, with dozens of bakery locations in multiple states. It also offers nationwide delivery. The “everything but the kitchen sink” mentality at Dirty Dough sets it apart from the competition, particularly from traditional flavor chains with lower standards and fewer locations.

It may sound ideal, but life at a cookie chain is not without its drawbacks. Let’s just say that Dirty Dough’s cookies aren’t completely convincing to the competition, Crumbl. According to a recent article in Franchise Times, Crumbl sued Dirty Dough for trademark infringement on the grounds that the company’s cookies and packaging used designs stolen from an employee (the brother of Dirty Dough CEO Bennett Maxwell). However, Maxwell does not seem especially concerned. He has refuted Crumbl’s claims and even seems grateful for the publicity, saying that franchise sales for Dirty Dough have increased as a result.

7. Chip City

Chip City

New York and New Jersey, Chip City is a cookie franchise known for its year-round selection of more than 40 unique flavors, as well as seasonal beverages and specialty coffees. According to Forbes, in 2023, Shake Shack’s Danny Meyer invested $10 million to help a cookie company grow beyond the Northeast. That’s right; if there isn’t a Chip City in your area just yet, there might be one opening up soon.

Chip City’s cookie dough is made in a central kitchen in Queens, New York, and then delivered to each store daily so that customers can enjoy a truly fresh cookie every time. Soon, the company will open stores in Boston, Connecticut, and Washington, D.C., and construct a new production facility in Florida to make cookie dough.

Chip City offers a rotating selection of both perennial favorites and limited-time treats in-store every week. Chocolate chip (both traditional and vegan), triple chocolate, Cookies N’ Cream, Funfetti, and S’mores are all available. Lemon Berry, Peanut Butter & Jelly, and Cannoli are just a few of the seasonal and one-of-a-kind flavors that might be available at any given time. The chain’s widespread availability, commitment to using only fresh ingredients, and innovative seasonal offerings all contribute to its high

8. Cookie Plug

Cookie Plug

Cookie Plug has a hip-hop, graffiti-inspired atmosphere and serves fresh, thick cookies (or “fat stacks”). These have a more cake-like consistency than most of our cookie varieties, but they also come in some truly unique flavors, such as Firecracker S’mores, Pixie Junkie Sugar Cookie, Purple Velvet, and Bam Bam Fruity Cereal. Those are just four of the dozen cookie varieties sold at the chain every day. You can “ice” (make cookie sandwiches out of) all of these.

A Plug Popper is the way to go if you’re indecisive about which cookie variety to order. This provides you with 12 different flavored cookies in bite size. Kitt Chocolate Chip, Bart Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip, Calvin Snickerdoodle, and Black Magic Chocolate are the regular four keto-friendly flavors. Each variety of cookie is carefully packaged in a unique, artistic box. Cookie Plug’s one-of-a-kind content and presentation earn it a spot in the top ten on our list.

According to a recent press release, despite the use of cannabis slang in product names, none of Cookie Plug’s products contain cannabis, THC, or CBD. Despite being headquartered in SoCal, the company has opened dozens of stores nationwide and is planning to expand into even more regions by 2023. In the first three months of the year, 20 more shops should open.

9. Tiff’s Treats

Tiff's Treats

Tiff’s Treats, unlike many other cookie chains, takes great pride in baking cookies fresh when you order and delivering them to you while they’re still warm, even if it’s the middle of the night. The only catch is that you’ll only enjoy this benefit if you happen to be physically located near one of its stores. There is an option for people in other regions to receive shipments of specific products. A quick blast in the microwave can make even stale cookies taste like they just came out of the oven.

Chocolate chip, snickerdoodle, oatmeal raisin, peanut butter, and sugar cookies, along with all the classics, can found at Tiff’s Treats. (Peanut butter chocolate chip is a favorite around here, but hey, to each their own.) Brownies, cookie ice cream sandwiches, and chocolate chip cookie truffles are also available. You can buy tubs of frosting to decorate your cookies at Tiff’s Treats. Remember to pre-order your cookies to avoid having to wait too long while they bake.

This cookie chain scores highly for its lack of artificial flavors and colors, as well as its emphasis on making everything from scratch, but its low number of locations forces it to fall to ninth place. Tiff’s Treats also keeps it traditional, which means some of the chains with more creative recipes edge it out. Fans of Tiff’s Treats might enjoy reading about the company’s sweet beginnings in “It’s Not Just Cookies: Stories and Recipes from the Tiff’s Treats Kitchen,” written by Tiffany and Leon Chen.

10. Great American Cookies

Great American Cookies

Great American shops, like Mrs. Fields and Nestle Toll House Cafe, are common fixtures in shopping centers are currently only sold in the Eastern states, according to the company’s website. However, Bake Magazine reports that the chain may soon increase its footprint by acquiring and rebranding former Nestle Toll House Cafes.

Flat, soft, chewy cookies are a specialty of Great American shops. Chocolate chip, sugar, and M&M are just a few of the available varieties. Custom cookie cakes, including a cute Elf on the Shelf-themed one for the holidays, are also available, as are brownies, Double Doozies (two cookies with icing in between), and more.

While we appreciate the brand’s creative take on the cookie cake, it’s not our go-to. Because they are manufacture to last a long time on store shelves, the company’s traditional cookies have a soft texture but a slightly chemical taste. Great American is known for its extensive selection of beautifully decorate cookie cakes. Like Cookies by Design, they’re great for special occasions but often have too much frosting, which makes them taste too sweet. Nonetheless, it’s next to impossible to pass a Great American shop without picking up a cookie or two.

11. Nestle Toll House Cafe

Nestle Toll House Cafe

Traditional Nestle Toll House cookies are love by everyone. The original (and classic) recipe for the brand’s chocolate chip cookies dates back to 1939, proving its quality. This dish is a staple in many families. While some of us would rather follow the recipe and whip up our own batch of cookies, there are times when having someone else take care of the baking is preferable.

We might have ranked Nestle Toll House Cafe higher if the news hadn’t been so discouraging for the company. It’s difficult to track down this cookie vending machine chain these days. Although the number of Nestle Toll House Cafes did grow in the early 2000s, there are now only 15 of them, and they are concentrate in the South. (In 2008, there were approximately 200 locations across the country.) Even more ominously, rumor has it that Great American Cookies will soon replace Nestle Toll House Cafes everywhere. Mall locations and licensing disputes reportedly spelled the end for this cookie chain that also served coffee. Unanticipated brand loyalty to competing cafes and restaurants could also play a role.

Wraps and paninis, in addition to cookies, ice cream sandwiches, and specialty coffee are still available at the remaining locations. However, you can always opt to bake the brand’s signature cookies from scratch or use the convenient (and tasty) premade cookie dough found in stores.

12. Cookies by Design

Design

Cookies by Design is well-known for its vibrant sugar cookie bouquets. Birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, and other special occasions can all be commemorate with a wide variety of products, including cookie bouquets, cookie baskets, and cookie cakes. Cookies by Design bakes not only sugar cookies but also traditional varieties like chocolate chip and oatmeal raisin and festive varieties like red velvet and birthday sprinkles. While Cookies by Design holds its own when compared to other cookie chains, the quality of the cookies themselves isn’t quite as high. The company’s delivery service sometimes results in cookies that are hard and taste stale. Overly sweet icing and a lack of gooey deliciousness in comparison to competing chains’ sugar cookies are also not to our liking.

Make and decorate your own sugar cookies with our helpful hints if you want the real deal. Browning the butter first, having the butter and eggs at room temperature, being careful not to overmix, and dusting cookie cutters with flour to prevent sticking are all tips for getting the best cookies.

Read More : Here’s How to Be Ready

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Kay Kelly

ICON Consultants Your HR Solutions Provider in Pakistan. We tailor services for organizations of all sizes, ensuring unique HR needs are met. Our experts analyze and assess to drive sustainable growth, aligned with your business objectives. Trust us for efficient, productive, and satisfying results
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