The Costco Connection

by Shana McNally

 

Cookies Made With Love

IN 2004 THINGS looked grim for the Stachler family. Dad Ken and daughter Susan underwent back-to-back chemo for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and Hodgkin’s disease, respectively.

Mother Laura was distraught until she learned that ginger helps cancer patients fight nausea. Having grown up in the restaurant industry, baking was something she knew and could do for her loved ones.

Enter Susansnaps, a gourmet cookie company co-owned by Laura and Susan and named after Laura’s sister Susan Carver Smith who succumbed to Hodgkin’s at 28.

“What was once just a small idea has now turned into a thriving company, and it started with some flour, sugar, eggs, and spices from the Perimeter [Georgia] Costco,” says Susan, who handles marketing and packaging and, like her dad, is doing OK.

The Atlanta-based commpany produces up to 10,000 of the chewy/crunchy cookies a day. A portion of the sales goes to the non-profit Susan Carver Foundation, which Laura established to support cancer research and cancer patients. “I’ve always wanted to give back, but never did I think I would be raising money for a cause I benefit from,” says Susan. -Shana McNally

Southern Lady Magazine (2010)

By Kathleen J. Whaley

Snappy Days: After facing the same illness in back-to-back generations, a Georgia mother and daughter set their course to “give a snap…see a smile.”

True-life steel magnolias Laura Stachler and Susan Carver Robbins exemplify the character of many Southern women:  Through good times and bad, do what you can, and do it well.  In their recently opened storefront on the outskirts of Atlanta, the mother-daughter duo work side-by-side to make their signature gingersnaps.  Each day they bake 8,000 cookies, place them in chic packaging, and prepare them for shipping across the country. “It’s like poetry in motion,” says Laura, who pauses from cutting Christmas ribbons long enough to exchange grins with daughter Susan.

“People love the product and the packaging,” Laura continues, “but what they really respond to is the story.”  The story starts with Laura’s sister and Susan’s namesake, Susan Carver Smith, who passed away from Hodgkin’s disease at age 28.  Nearly three decades later, just before graduating from Auburn University, the younger Susan was also diagnosed with Hodgkin’s.  Over the next few months, Laura-whose husband required treatments for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma around the same time- sat by through numerous rounds of chemotherapy.

In hopes of lifting her family’s spirits and helping in a tangible way, Laura, a professional baker, used her talents to develop the ultimate gingersnap.  The ginger served as a natural stomach soother to her husband and daughter, while flavorful, dark molasses imparted an irresistible taste.  Featuring just the right combination of spice and crunch, the snaps soon garnered attention beyond the close-knit Stachler family. “It slowly unfolded,” says Susan, who put her doodling skills to work and began designing logos for the packaging. “At first, we thought, ‘We’ll do this for 6 months, and then I’ll get a real job.'”

Several years, three flavors, and a storefront later, the cookies that Laura named “Susansnaps” in memory of her sister and in honor of her daughter keep the pair plenty busy with real jobs- plus they’re making a real difference.  A portion of all Susansnaps’ sales benefit The Susan Carver Foundation, which supports cancer research, specifically genetic studies.  The Foundation places equal importance on cancer patient gifts and donates gingersnap gift bags to those undergoing treatment during the holidays.  Susan, now a 6-year survivor, is quick to acknowledge that cookies won’t save the world. But she and mom Laura still pursue their mission with comparable fervor.  As Susan knows firsthand, “It’s good to make people smile.”

The Osgood File (2010)

Charles Osgood, Reporting by Mark Strassmann, CBS News Correspondent

 

The Osgood File. This is Charles Osgood. 

There’s a secret ingredient in Susansnaps – the gourmet ginger snaps Laura Stachler started baking at home seven years ago. 

Today, they bake and ship as many as 10,000 cookies a day. About the Stachlers, the cookies and the secret ingredient – after this…

((( SPOT )))

It was not a happy time for the Stachler family. Our CBS News colleague Mark Strassmann has the story.

Voice – Mark Strassmann, CBS News Correspondent
“Seven years ago, Laura’s husband Ken had cancer. Their daughter Susan – then, a college senior – was also diagnosed with cancer, the same cancer her Aunt Susan had died from years earlier.”

Voice – Susan Stachler
“And there I was, going home to do chemo and radiation. It was definitely not the easiest thing to take in…”

Voice – Mark Strassmann
“Susan and her father even went through cancer treatment together.”

Voice – Laura Stachler
“…’This is my husband – now, it’s my child’ — that was the only time, that was the only time I said: ‘It’s too much. I can’t do it…'”

Voice – Mark Strassmann
“Rather than feel helpless, Laura baked ginger snaps. Ginger’s known to soothe upset stomachs, often a side effect during chemotherapy.” 

Now, Susan herself makes special deliveries to St. Joseph’s Hospital in Atlanta – where she made her recovery.

Voice of Susan Stachler, at the hospital
“Treat to enjoy this afternoon…”

Voice – Mark Strassmann 
“And they bring comfort and hope.”

Voice of a Patient
“Thank you very much, very sweet…”

Voice of Dave Fronk, another patient
“The ability to come talk to them and share with them – to know that it’s going to be OK.”

Voice – Mark Strassmann
“Susan’s now 29 and cancer-free.”

Voice – Laura Stachler
“People don’t expect cancer to look like Susan – so that in itself reminds them that ‘If this young girl can do it, then I can, too…'”

Today, says Strassman…

Voice – Mark Strassmann
“Their ginger snaps are aptly called ‘Susansnaps’ – honoring one Susan’s recovery and another Susan’s memory.”

Voice – Susan Stachler, saying to her mother Laura…
“She’d be very proud of you – very, very proud of my mom.”

Voice – Mark Strassmann
“Proud of every Susansnaps’ secret ingredient: kindness.”

Clip Montage
“You can enjoy them… / Thank you so much… / Thinking about you…”

The Osgood File. Charles Osgood on the CBS Radio Network.

The Osgood File. December 1st, 2010.

Auburn Magazine

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.”

Sandy Springs Neighbor

Bakery to Host Fundraiser for Cancer Patients

Susansnaps, the area’s only gourmet gingersnap cookie company, will host Sweets for Smiles, a fundraiser for cancer patients, Friday and Saturday at its store in Sandy Springs.

All proceeds from the sale of Susansnap Spice Cake Slices ($4) and gingersnap Snack Packs ($5.50) will be donated to the Susan Carver Foundation, which provides funds for cancer research. For every $2 raised, a bag of gingersnaps will be given to cancer patients going through treatment during the Christmas holidays. Ginger is a natural stomach soother.

The store is located at 229 Hilderbrand Drive, and hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday. Year-round, 10 percent of the store’s proceeds are donated to cancer patients.

Susan Robbins, who was named after her aunt, Susan Carver, who died in 1977 from Hodgkin’s disease, had the same cancer but has been free of the disease for five years. She and her mother, Laura Stachler, own Susansnaps, which was started as a home business in 2005. It was inspired by Ms. Stachler’s joy of cooking and an effort to give her daughter soothing cookies while going through cancer treatments. The store opened in December, and this is Susansnaps’ first fundraiser since opening the store.

“We felt like we saw a need,” Ms. Stachler said. “A lot of people don’t know what to do or what to give. … It’s a lovely way to remember people and it’s an easy way for the whole community to give back. Just with $2 we’re trying to help these patients. … We’re not trying to save the world, but we know this one small gesture will help these patients.”

Ms. Robbins added, “[Cancer patients] actually really just love getting something fun for five minutes that takes time away from something serious. We do share our story on the packaging and it’s unbelievably nice that patients call us, e-mail us or even come by the store to say thank you for bringing them gifts. They also know they’re not forgotten at such a difficult time.”

She also said cancer patients were grateful when she and her mother have delivered them cookies in the past.

“A good cookie makes everybody a little bit happy,” Ms. Robbins said. “When we walked into the cancer centers last year, people’s faces instantly lit up.”

Atlanta INtown Paper (2010)

by Wendy Binns

Companies that Care: Susansnaps
Learn about Susansnaps and you’ll understand that this company was created to fight cancer with a 1-2 punch. Number one, the gingersnaps are cheerful and soothing (ginger is known as a natural stomach soother). Secondly, they raise big bucks for The Susan Carver Foundation ‘… because cancer is NOT okay!’ With donations and 10 percent of all sales from Susansnaps, they fund the foundation for research and patient gifts.

Once upon a time, cancer hit Susan Robbins’ family hard. Susan and her father both underwent chemotherapy within the same year. And, Aunt Susan (the cookies’ namesake) passed away from cancer at only 28 years old. So, Susan and her mother, Laura, took action and created Susansnaps. “While my mom perfected her recipe, I worked on the logos and packaging … We both decided that we wanted a portion of our sales to go back to fighting cancer. We wanted to do something to give back and starting Susansnaps gives us a fun way to do just that,” explains Susan.

What’s in store? There are gingersnaps, which come in three flavors – original, cocoa and citrus. And, there are cakes, too – get the whole layer cake or by the slice. “We recently opened a fun bakery shop in Sandy Springs (229 Hildebrand Drive) where we bake and sell our ultimate gourmet gingersnaps and eight fabulous flavors of cakes,” says Susan. “As our company grows, we are able to donate more to a cause dear to our hearts.”

“We are really proud of how far we have come. From having one small idea to bake gingersnaps and raise a little bit of money to now baking thousands of snaps a day, starting our own foundation, and opening a bakery store, we can hardly believe it! We know we aren’t saving the world, but we truly believe that if you can make others smile, you are making all the difference! It’s wonderful that everyday, even in just a small way, we get to bring smiles to so many faces! It is so rewarding when we get letters and emails or people stop in our store to tell us how much they enjoyed receiving Susansnaps at their treatment or while in the hospital. What really touches us most is when cancer patients tell us they find our story inspiring and encouraging. We are happy to show the community that anything is possible….that even fun cookies can come from horrible cancer!”

For more information, www.susansnaps.com.

The Sunday Paper (2010)

By Hope S. Philbrick

Snap to It! Mother-Daughter Baking Team Settles into a Brick-and Mortar-Storefront
Susansnaps, a gourmet ginger snap cookie company, grew from a tummy-comforting snack into a mother-daughter business that recently opened its first retail location in Sandy Springs. Laura Stachler (who previously owned Laura’s Divine Desserts) first developed Susansnaps as snacks for her husband and daughter Susan Robbins, who were undergoing chemotherapy treatments within the same year. While Laura perfected the recipe, Susan designed logos and packaging. The ginger snaps became popular and took over Laura’s small baking company. They are named Susansnaps in memory of Laura’s sister Sue (who died from Hodgkin’s in 1977 at age 28) and in honor of her daughter Susan (who beat Hodgkin’s at age 22). For the past five years, the mother and daughter have worked out of a commercial kitchen and grown the business beyond their wildest dreams. Fans of Susansnaps include Martha Stewart, Rachel Ray and Chef Bobby Flay. The Sunday Paper asked the women to share more details.

Was a retail location always part of your business plan?

Laura: Actually not. We had a really nice online business, attended gift shows, had corporate clients. The customers really let us know they’d like a place where they could come to us to pick up products directly. Last spring, we started looking for a location.

Susan: It’s really nice to create more of a shopping experience. Rather than place orders or call, people can come in, look around and get a personal touch.

What are your products? What’s most popular?

Laura: On the ginger snap side, we offer the original Susansnaps, plus delicious citrus and cocoa snaps. We have seven different made-from-scratch layer cakes in a variety of flavors. We also have spiced nuts and treats. Everything is made in the shop by us.

We have a divine chocolate fudge cake. The recipe for our banana nut cake has been in the family for more than 60 years. Susan and I came up with a Susansnap spice cake with a fabulous lemon cream cheese frosting that’s surprised us in that it’s become our very biggest seller. It’s got five spices on the bottom and a fresh, tangy lemon zest on top. Even chocoholics are over the top about it.

How did you develop the original Susansnaps?

Laura: Oh gosh, we worked at that for a long time. The inspiration was that ginger is a natural stomach soother, and at that time, that was the purpose we wanted for it. Little did we know the little treat would be so huge. It’s got a little crunch on the outside, texture on the inside, and gets rave reviews.

Susan: Our first big order was for 30,000 cookies. We hand scooped all of them, which took a couple weeks. Now we do 8,000 a day. At the beginning, we never could have imagined growing this much. We never set out to be where we are.

You also founded the Susan Carver Foundation?

Susan: Yes, 10 percent of sales go to cancer research and patient gifts. We donate bags of cookies to cancer patients in local hospitals during the holidays. SP

Susansnaps is located at 229 Hilderbrand Dr., Sandy Springs. www.susansnaps.com.

Points North Magazine (2010)

By Anna Rhoades

Give a Snap, See a Smile

Mother-daughter team Laura Stachler and Susan Robbins have opened Susansnaps, a gourmet gift shop in Sandy Springs. Stachler began making ginger snap cookies in 2004 to soothe nausea, a side effect from chemotherapy, which both her daughter and husband were going through at the time for Hodgkin’s disease and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, respectively. Fortunately, Robbins and her father are now doing fine, and their tasty treats have become quite a hit. But they haven’t forgotten what they are all about – 10 percent of proceeds on all sales goes to The Susan Carver Foundation, in memory of Stachler’s sister who succumbed to Hodgkin’s at age 28.

Dunwoody Crier

By Carol Miemi

Family Travails Sparks Susansnaps

A Dunwoody mother and daughter recently turned family tragedy into triumph when they opened Susansnaps – a bakery and sweetshop they own and run together.

Walk through the door of their business, and you are in pure confection. From the hand-painted walls, floors and furniture to the aroma of gingersnaps that fills the air, the look and feel are of an old-fashioned 1940s sweet shop combined with the stylish flair of sophisticated upscale graphic design.

On the walls of the bright little shop are giant stripes and polka dots of red, white and black. The vintage look is enhanced by the round oilcloth floor covering in the center of the shop, painted in tiny multi-colored dots. Upon this mat rests a stack of round flea-market tables, painted in white and decorated to look like a giant three-tiered wedding cake. A shelf along one wall is adorned by a row of hatboxes, fancifully decorated to look like all the scrumptious cakes made by the ladies of Susansnaps.

Other tables and shelves display the thematic packaging in which the gingersnaps are available – maternity, babies, holidays, get-well and cancer therapy.

And here is where the story actually begins. Laura Carver Stachler and her daughter, Susan Robbins, had more than just a love of sweets in mind when they opened Susansnaps.

In 1977, Laura’s sister, Susan, died of Hodgkin’s disease at the age of 28. In 2003, Laura’s husband began treatment for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. And incredibly, a year later, Laura’s daughter, Susan, who was named for Laura’s sister, was herself diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease a week before her Auburn graduation.

Thus began for the Stachler family two and a half years of chemotherapy. As Laura sat in the treatment center with her husband and daughter and watched countless other cancer patients, she felt the need to do something.

She turned to what she knew best – baking. Since she knew ginger had been used for centuries to calm upset stomachs, she created “the ultimate gingersnap” – filled with old-fashioned spices and dark molasses, topped with sparking sugar crystals.

Both the Stachler patients recovered. And for five years, Laura and Susan made their cookies and fancy cakes in a commercial kitchen they built in an extra building on their property on Spalding Drive.

They built their customer base through word of mouth and their website.

Along the way, they named their business Susansnaps and developed the three types of gingersnaps that form their core business today – original, cocoa and citrus – as well as a variety of gourmet cakes. Everything they make is handmade, natural and fresh. Even their packing “popcorn” is organic and recyclable.

As business co-owners, they divide their responsibilities according to their abilities. While Laura works on the recipes, Susan develops all the graphics. Together, they both do all the shopping, baking, order-taking and packaging.

Susansnaps, however, is more than just a fancy little bakery. Laura and Susan donate 10 percent of their profits to the Susan Carver Foundation, named for Laura’s sister. The foundation sends half to the National Cancer Institute for genetic cancer research and uses the other half to provide gift packages to patients undergoing chemotherapy during the holidays.

The opening of the shop is the fulfillment of their dream to bring the happiness of their cookies to more people. Today they ship their colorful gift packages throughout the U.S. Customers can purchase by calling the shop at (404) 497-9210, emailing through the website www.susansnaps.com or visiting at 229 Hilderbrand Drive in Sandy Springs. The shop is open Tuesday through Saturday

 

Martha Stewart Living

Watching her husband and daughter undergo chemotherapy, Laura wanted to help. Through her passion for baking she developed the ultimate gingersnap. Laura named the cookies Susansnaps for her sister who lost her battle with cancer and her daughter who beat the disease, and donates a portion of every sale to cancer research.