Long one of my favorite cookies, Big O’s are exceptionally excellent, and they have been for probably three decades now. Every time I take a bite of one I’m reminded why I like them so much. Culinary beauty in such a simple, super-accessible form totally makes me smile. It is, in many ways, what I think Zingerman’s is all about. Taking something that’s typically mundane and making it over into a world-class offering that everyone can enjoy.
Like almost everything we make and sell, these oatmeal raisin cookies are so good because they start with great ingredients. Organic soft white wheat grown by Ferris Organic Farm in Eaton Rapids that we mill fresh at the Bakehouse. Old-fashioned organic rolled oats, big juicy red flame raisins, Muscovado brown sugar. Maple syrup from Michigan Maple Farms in Rudyard in the Upper Peninsula makes for a marvelously magical cookie. Add in real vanilla, some cinnamon, and nutmeg. Even after all these years of making them, every time I taste one I’m reminded of just how amazingly good they really are. The depth of flavor and complexity is wonderful!
A bit of background? The Bakehouse team shares some history:
Oatmeal cookies have been an American staple since the late nineteenth century, when Fannie Merritt Farmer published the first recorded recipe for them in the original 1896 edition of her famous Boston Cooking-School Cookbook, better known today as the Fannie Farmer Cookbook. The cookies evolved from oatcakes, a type of plain flatbread made centuries ago by the English and the Scots. Raisins and nuts were added to the mix sometime around the Middle Ages to make the oatcakes tastier. By the early 1900s, the cookies were billed here in America as “health food,” and a recipe appeared on every container of Quaker® Oats.
Raisins became the “norm” for oatmeal cookies not long before the first National Women’s Day when Quaker® began printing a recipe for oatmeal raisin cookies on every carton of their oats. They shared the same marketing firm as Sun-Maid® Raisins, and the collaboration came about!
Big O’s are great as they are, and pretty much perfect with a pot of that Erlita’s Lot coffee from Peru. Very good with a scoop of the Creamery’s vanilla gelato. While cookies aren’t considered proper breakfast food, the truth is they’re great with your morning coffee—sort of a bowl of oatmeal in hand-held form!
HUNGRY FOR MORE?
- Sign up for Ari’s Top 5 enewsletter to hear more from Ari every week!
- Get some Big O cookies from the Bakehouse.
- Pick up a 6-pack from the Deli.
- Bake your own! Buy Oatmeal Raisin Cookie dough from the Bakeshop freezer or find the recipe in our cookbook, Zingerman’s Bakehouse.
In 1982, Ari Weinzweig, along with his partner Paul Saginaw, founded Zingerman’s Delicatessen with a $20,000 bank loan, a Russian History degree from the University of Michigan, 4 years of experience washing dishes, cooking and managing in restaurant kitchens and chutzpah from his hometown of Chicago. They opened the doors with 2 employees and a small selection of specialty foods and exceptional sandwiches.
Today, Zingerman’s Delicatessen is a nationally renowned food icon and the Zingerman’s Community of Businesses has grown to 10 businesses with over 750 employees and over $55 million in annual revenue. Aside from the Delicatessen, these businesses include Zingerman’s Bakehouse, Coffee Company, Creamery, Roadhouse, Mail Order, ZingTrain, Candy Manufactory, Cornman Farms and a Korean restaurant that is scheduled to open in 2016. No two businesses in the Zingerman’s Community of Businesses are alike but they all share the same Vision and Guiding Principles and deliver “The Zingerman’s Experience” with passion and commitment.
Besides being the Co-Founding Partner and being actively engaged in some aspect of the day-to-day operations and governance of nearly every business in the Zingerman’s Community, Ari Weinzweig is also a prolific writer. His most recent publications are the first 4 of his 6 book series Zingerman’s Guide to Good Leading Series: A Lapsed Anarchist’s Approach to Building a Great Business (Part 1), Being a Better Leader (Part 2), Managing Ourselves (Part 3) and the newly-released Part 4, The Power of Beliefs in Business. Earlier books include the Zingerman’s Guides to Giving Great Service, Better Bacon, Good Eating, Good Olive Oil, Good Vinegar and Good Parmigiano-Reggiano.
Ari regularly travels across the country (and world) on behalf of ZingTrain, teaching organizations and businesses about Zingerman’s approach to business. He is a sought-after Keynote speaker, having delivered keynotes for Inc. 500, Microsoft Expo Spring Conference, Great Game of Business Gathering of Games, Positive Business Conference at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business, American Society for Quality (ASQ), and the American Cheese Society. Most recently, Ari and Paul Saginaw were invited to address an audience of 50,000 for the University of Michigan 2015 Spring Commencement.
One of Zingerman’s Guiding Principles is being an active part of the community and in 1988, Zingerman’s was instrumental in the founding of Food Gatherers, a food rescue program that delivers over 5 million pounds of food each year to the hungry residents of Washtenaw county. Every year Zingerman’s donates 10% of its previous years profits to local community organizations and non-profits. Ari has served on the board of The Ark, the longest continuously operating folk music venue in America.
Over the decades, the Zingerman’s founding partners have consistently been the recipients of public recognition from a variety of diverse organizations. In April 1995, Ari and Paul were awarded the Jewish Federation of Washtenaw County’s first Humanitarian Award. In 2006, Ari was recognized as one of the “Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America” by the James Beard Foundation. In 2007, Ari and Paul were presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award from Bon Appetit magazine for their work in the food industry. Ari was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the American Cheese Society in 2014. And Ari’s book, Building a Great Business was on Inc. magazine’s list of Best Books for Business Leaders.
Notwithstanding the awards, being engaged on a daily basis in the work of 10 businesses and 21 partners, writing books on business and in-depth articles on food for the Zingerman’s newsletter, Ari finds time to be a voracious reader. He acquires and reads more books than he can find room for. Ari might soon find himself the owner of the largest collection of Anarchist books in Ann Arbor outside the Labadie collection at the University of Michigan library!