The sweet, buttery, melt-in-your mouth creations of Bite Me! Inc. can be found in grocery stores and shops nationwide.
But the passion that goes into every cookie – from Flower Power shortbread to Butter Grahams to football-shaped Seahawk cookies - can be found nearly every day here in Lakewood. That’s where owner Deborah Tuggle and her staff of nearly 20 people produce the treats that many of us buy at Metropolitan Market, Whole Foods and other popular stores.
Bite Me! specializes in sweet and simple. Currently, crews work with three different cookie companies that she owns. However, each cookie is then specialized for the customer. According to Tuggle, that simple approach is the foundation of her company’s quality.
“We don’t skimp on anything,” she said recently while chatting with the City of Lakewood in her office at 3827 100th St., Bite Me’s headquarters since 2015. “We use only the best domestic nuts. We use only the best butter. We use only made- from- scratch cookie dough.”
“I won’t compromise the product.”
Sweet and Simple
Today, Tuggle’s company produces 14,000 to 17,000 cookies an hour.
Those numbers are astonishing given where she started. The Tacoma native never fancied herself a chocolate lover growing up. She used to make chocolate chip cookies without the chocolate chips – “chocolate chippers,” as she refers to them.
However, years later, she recalls going to a neighbor’s Christmas Party and tasting a scrumptious batch of chocolate chip cookies. She checked with the neighbor, who said it was a simple Toll House recipe.
From that moment, Tuggle was on a mission to make the best cookie ever. After attending school to be a court reporter in 1999, she opened her first shop – Friday’s Cookies in Tacoma’s Hilltop Neighborhood.
Why Friday in the title? “It was the only day I could bake cookies while going to school for court reporting to help pay for tuition,” she said.
She learned quickly that cookies alone weren’t enough to pay the bills on her 1,700-square-foot shop, so she began offering hot dogs, sandwiches and breakfast items.
In 2004, Tuggle acquired Bite Me! Cookies from a pair of Seattle-based sisters and began making the shortbread creations in her shop. She also began marketing her products - working phones and giving out samples. Eighteen months after the acquisition, business had nearly tripled, and Bite Me! was outgrowing its space.
In 2015, Tuggle moved her operation to Lakewood, in an unassuming location that masks the magic that goes into creating her cookies. These days, Bite Me! Treats can be found in stores across the country. “We’re shipping to Rhode Island every week,” she says.
Bite Me!’s products are GMO-free, and each package reads “colored by nature.” It has more products under development while sticking with time-tested favorites.
Tuggle says she cares about her employees and emphasizes making their respective families the biggest priority.
She also loves doing business in Lakewood, and she takes supporting the community seriously.
In terms of the cookies, however, that’s a different story.
“It’s so much fun. Cookies make people happy, so this is the best job in town,” Tuggle says.
For its commitment to our community, the City of Lakewood recognizes Bite Me! Inc. as its June 2016 Business Showcase.