Hartsdale Teachers Bake Up 'Smart Cookies' Business

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Westchester bakers Pamela Worth and Jenny Frank sold their gluten free baked goods at the indoor farmers market in White Plains. Photo Credit: Danny LoPriore
Smart Cookies has full line of gluten free products.. Photo Credit: Jennifer Giaquinto
Smart Cookies is featuring a line of Valentine's Day products among its gluten free baked goods. Photo Credit: Jennifer Giaquinto

HARTSDALE, N.Y. -- First neighbors, then fast friends, school teachers Pamela Worth and Jenny Frank have started a baked goods business, Smart Cookies.

The Hartsdale duo met five years ago living on the same floor in their apartment building and learned that their husbands grew up together and Jenny and Dave (Pam’s husband) went to high school together.

Worth, a Chappaqua elementary school teacher, and Frank, who teaches in New York City, were a perfect match for the kitchen as well.

"We had a lot in common and quickly became good friends," Worth said. "We shared several passions - education, yoga, running and we even completed a half marathon together. But nothing was more bonding than our shared love of baking."

With the rise in the number of children with food allergies or intolerance as well as the rise in those diagnosed with celiac disease, they say their goal is to allow everyone to have access to delicious, all natural, gluten free cookies.

"We hope to make available the classic cookies that those living the gluten-free life crave every day and add new and exciting treats to our menu," Worth said. "You don’t have to be gluten free to enjoy our cookies -- we promise you won’t be able to tell the difference."

The partners each were nurtured at or near ovens and learned to develop their craft by mixing and baking. 

"I spent a lot of time in my Nana’s kitchen, where there was always something baking," Frank said. "Most of the time, it came directly out of a Duncan Hines box. So, while I can’t say that my Nana was responsible for teaching me how to bake, I do think that my inherent love for baking came from her."

Worth's own experience with celiac disease motivates her gluten-free passion.

"I've always enjoyed baking and I learned a lot from my mom growing up," Worth said. "When I was diagnosed with celiac disease about four years ago I began the journey into gluten-free baking.  I didn’t want to live without the sweets that I grew up loving so much. I didn’t enjoy the gluten-free baked goods that you could buy in stores, so I made my own. I am always thrilled when someone tastes something I’ve baked and can not tell at all that it is gluten free."

Frank said the new business has been challenging but exciting.

"Venturing into gluten-free baking has definitely been a humbling experience, but the challenges and setbacks have only served as further motivation for me and have made the successes that much sweeter," Frank said.

Currently selling their goods at the White Plains farmers market, Frank and Worth hope to expand to other farmers markets and to possibly create an online business.

"A store front in the future would be great," Worth said. "For now, since [Smart Cookies] is a union between two perfectionists, we are trying to build gradually and take our business plan one step at a time in order to ensure a quality product and a quality brand."

For more information or to order from Smart Cookies, email thesmartcookiesllc@gmail.com.

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