By Michael Hansberry
Snaps for Cookies
When life hands some people lemons, they make lemonade. When Susan Stachler Robbins (’04 Graduate) was handed a cancer diagnosis, she made cookies.
Robbins, who began treatment for Hodgkin’s disease the year she graduated from Auburn university, was young, vivacious, and determined not to become a victim.
Initially, the Georgia native dismissed the lump in her neck as a swollen thyroid. Finally, she underwent some tests and received the awful news – she had the same form of cancer that had claimed the life of her aunt, Susan Carver Smith, nearly 30 years before. “Larry the Lump”, as she called it, was a malignant tumor.
Robbins’ father had been battling non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma for a decade – still, Robbins was surprised by her own diagnosis. “I couldn’t comprehend that I had this deadly disease inside of me,” she says.
She endured months of chemotherapy, at times along side her father. Eventually a new business was born out of the family’s medical ordeal – Susansnaps, an Atlanta-based cookie company.
Robbins’ mother, Laura Stachler, says the idea arose when the family began bringing homemade gingersnaps to the chemotherapy center. “Susan would take her IV pole and walk around giving out cookies to the other patients,” says Stachler.
“Of course, you could imagine most of the other patients were 60, 70, 85 years old, and here was this young ray of light going around cheering everyone up.”
After Robbins’ successful caner treatment, she and her mother kept making cookies. the duo’s signature product, marketed as the “ultimate gingersnap,” is made from a family recipe that combines ginger, molasses, other ingredients in a tangy blend. The cookies have been featured as food guru Rachel Ray’s “Snack of the Day” and were spotlighted in Savannah cook Paula Deen’s Christmas magazine last year. Stachler was a finalist in Martha Stewart’s “Dreamers into Doers” contest, which honors women entrepreneurs.
Robbins also created the Susan Carver Foundation, which offers bags of gingersnaps to cancer patients in exchange for donations; 10 percent of Susansnaps’ profits benefit cancer research. the company produces about 8,000 cookies per day.
“You have to laugh things off,” Robbins says of her cancer-to-cookies journey. “If you don’t laugh, the other option is to cry, and I didn’t want to do that.”