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Since 1999, Deborah Tuggle has lived by the motto that “sharing cookies is sharing love.”

She started her cookie company Bite Me Cookies, Inc. 21 years ago in Tacoma’s Hilltop neighborhood. She sold her cookies at her retail store off 11th and Martin Luther King Jr. Way. 

She’s a Tacoma success story. She was born and raised in the Hilltop and graduated from Stadium High School. 

Deb Tuggle
Deborah Tuggle is the owner of Bite Me Cookies Inc. Photo courtesy of Bite Me Cookies.

Her family always drove her to success. “My parents were amazing. My mom is the type of woman,  if I decided to tie shoes for a living, she’d be so supportive of that,” Tuggle told me back in 2017 when I wrote about yet another expansion of her cookie business. 

Back then, she had just started a cookie trailer from where she sold freshly baked chocolate chip-walnut cookies at Cheney Stadium during Rainiers games. That lasted a few seasons. It was just one of many of her experiments over the years. She’s a woman on a mission to sell cookies.

To newcomers to her company, here’s a catch-up on how she’s built her cookie empire the last 21 years: She operated that cookie store in the Hilltop, but closed it and took her cookies wholesale. About five years ago, she moved into a 9,000 manufacturing facility in Lakewood where she can produce up to 17,000 cookies an hour. 

She scored private label cookie accounts big and small. Due to non-disclosure agreements, she can’t talk about those accounts. However, she’s produced cookies for big-name companies in the area. She also became a part owner of Seattle Shortbread Company. 

She sells her cookies under numerous brand names, but she’s probably best known for “The Original,” her warm, gooey chocolate chip cookies made with Belgian chocolate, with or without walnuts. 

She saw her business decline after coronavirus caused local businesses to shrink their presence.

“I’ve had to diversify my portfolio again,” she said recently when I checked in on her in June. Every conversation I’ve ever had with her has always revealed a common theme: Deborah Tuggle is scrappy and if one door closes, she opens three more. 

And that brings us to her latest ventures: co-packing, GrubHub cookie delivery and making her product available to restaurants for a fresh-baked cookie program.

The cookie delivery service through GrubHub means that consumers can buy direct from her. Want to repay somebody’s kindness? Live in Lakewood? You can send them a package of cookies that are ready to bake, straight from Tuggle’s Lakewood cookie factory. 

Cookies
Chocolate chip cookies from Bite Me Cookies, Inc. Photo courtesy of Bite Me Cookies.

COOKIE DELIVERY 

A few months ago, she began selling cookie packs through GrubHub. Diners can buy her ready-to-bake cookie dough in frozen six-packs.

Select from a six-pack of her Belgian chocolate chip cookies, called “The Original,” with or without nuts. Or, buy a combo six-pack with three of each. Cookie packs are $20 and can be delivered within a 15-mile radius in Lakewood right now. 

Her plan is to expand to neighboring cities. She’s looking around for local businesses throughout Pierce County that can serve as pick-up points. 

“The reason I wanted to sell through GrubHub, I always wanted to diversify my business and cookies are a way to share love,” said Tuggle. 

She envisioned her cookies could be ordered to give as a gift to a neighbor or a friend in need of a cheer-up. 

“It wasn’t about the buyer, it was about providing a gift to other people. Send your friend down the street a cookie pack and tell them to have a good day. That was my whole purpose,” she said. “It’s about sharing the cookie love in the community.”

She added, “What’s better than a warm home-grown cookie from the 253 in your oven?”

CO-PACKAGING AND RESTAURANT SALES

Never a business owner content with sitting still for long, Tuggle also has started expanding her business through business partnerships with local food companies, called “co-packing.” 

“The small businesses don’t make it anymore,” she explained. “The certifications are tough. And you have to have food safety experts. It goes on and on, all the startup costs.” 

That’s where she comes in. She’s been working with food companies to co-pack – basically help the food company produce and package their food products in her fully licensed facility –  and she now sees those ventures as one way to keep her business moving forward.

One more idea she has: Fresh-baked cookies in local restaurants. 

“I’d love for my cookies to be part of restaurant menus, “ she said. “Our dough balls easily can be part of the dessert offerings for any restaurant. There’s no preparation for the restaurant. The dough is ready to go. The instructions are there. They just have to bake them.” 

“We sell our dough balls in other states as far as the Midwest,” she said. “We have freezer trucks picking up product all the time. It’s not hard to put together. I’d love to see local restaurants sell it, too.” 

BITE ME COOKIES, INC. 

Contact: https://bitemeinc.cc/

Phone: 877-532-BITE or 206-286-7519

GrubHub ordering here: https://www.grubhub.com/restaurant/bite-me-inc-3827-100th-st-sw-suite-e-lakewood/2091864

Website ordering here: https://bitemeinc.cc/collections/all

WATCH DEBORAH TUGGLE AND BITE ME COOKIES ON KING 5

Saint Bryan from KING 5’s Evening interviewed Deborah Tuggle. Be sure to tune in on Thursday, July 23 to watch the segment. More details here.


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COOPER’S FOOD & DRINK NOW OPEN

Did you see my story about Cooper’s Food & Drink opening in Tacoma’s Westgate neighborhood? The restaurant has been a work in progress for more than two years. Check out all the details here.

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