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Colorado was hungry for cookies when it finally hit the market this year.
Cookies was born in California in 2012 and is a child of both the cannabis and hip-hop worlds. It was founded by two legends: Berner, aka Gilbert Milam Jr., a Bay Area rapper and entrepreneur; and Jigga, a renowned cannabis grower and breeder who was a member of the mythical cultivation collective known as the Cookie Collective or Cookies Fam. From those not-so-humble beginnings, it grew from a popular strain and a streetwear store in San Francisco to an international group of lifestyle brands – Cookies, Lemonnade, Minntz, and Grandiflora – all under the Cookies umbrella. Each line is part of Cookies’ unique cannabis ecosystem, where each breeder has their own label.
Cookie shop windows are now popping out of the oven all over the world. The company welcomed a cannabis club in Barcelona this year; it already had numerous pharmacies across California. Through cultivation partnerships, the brand can now be found in every legal adult market in the country, from Maryland, Massachusetts and Michigan to Nevada, Washington, Oregon and finally Colorado.
Cookies came to the state on May 8, bringing iconic strains like Gary Payton (made in collaboration with the NBA star), Gelatti, Cheetah Piss, Pancakes, White Runtz, Georgia Pie and Sticky Buns, wild, sweet, among others and imaginative creations. Another brand in the biscuit box, Lemonnade is now available for the first time in the state; it focuses on sativa-dominant strains. While Cookies does not sell the original Girl Scout Cookies variety, it does offer consumers popular phenotypes based on it.
Colorado’s cookies are grown exclusively by local breeder Veritas Fine Cannabis, a craft cannabis company founded in 2011. It’s a grower’s heaven match.
“We’ve been in the market for about five months now,” said Jon Spadafora, director of sales and marketing at Veritas. “It was great; we were very happy with the reaction from the market. Obviously there is a bit of concern when you launch a brand. The Cookies brand is so popular. … This is a completely different product. It has found a home very quickly .
“Cookies are a lifestyle; Cookies are a real lifestyle, ”he adds. “A lot of brands try to say that they are lifestyle brands, but there are a lot of people who are invested in that culture and it’s really amazing to see that.”
The partnership between Cookies and Veritas came through Slang Worldwide, a distributor of branded products who helped drive the expansion of cookies into new markets. “One thing that got us there, and what we love about this partnership, is that it’s authentic,” continues Spadafora. “Berner takes care, Berner is involved. He is involved in deciding which varieties will go on the market. And then his music supports these burdens. It was amazing to watch. We were overwhelmed by the fact that your team shares a similar passion for the plant as our team. There is a very personal connection to cannabis and everyone really cares. “
The California-based Cookies team has been involved in the Colorado expansion from the start, with strict SOPs and requirements for the verification process, explains Spadafora. “They actually came to our facility,” he says. “After meeting with our grower and a few other team members, they understood that we have a really similar style, a very similar nutritional program.”
Even if the history of cookies is unique.
The eponymous variety of cookies, Girl Scout Cookies, is one of the most famous and imitated in the world of cultivation. GSC’s roots date back to the 2010s in the Bay Area, where it was founded by the Cookies Fam, a medical community of high-performing California breeders. The strain is said to be a cross between South Africa’s Durban Poison and Southern California’s OG Kush.
It started quickly. Less than a decade later, thousands of phenotypes can be found around the world. Seed banks claim to be selling the “real Girl Scout Cookies” variety; Shop fronts from California to Amsterdam sell a variety of GSC. Colorado has had versions on the shelves for nearly a decade. There is currently no real GSC; it has been bred, crossed, and sold well beyond its original form. Since cookies are unable to formally copyright the strain – a benefit not yet available to cannabis – cookies will not indict pharmacies or breeders who claim to grow GSC, not here in Colorado or anywhere else.
But some of these pharmacies have been the focus of other legal action. In 2017, the Girl Scouts of America sent warning letters to pharmacies that used the Girl Scout Cookies name and logo, but the organization never filed charges. In the meantime, the scope of GSC has outgrown the control of the group.
Unlike most California transplants, cookies were warmly welcomed in Colorado.
“There were concerns about how Colorado would react to a California brand,” admits Spadafora. “Colorado has a lot of similarities with the states, but we’re pretty proud of our market. We were really excited. Once we go through this and understand that this is more than just a brand with someone’s name on it, the fundamentals are strong. They really understand what they are talking about and they really care. So far it has been a really phenomenal partnership. ”
Veritas’ grow room that serves cookies in Colorado.
Courtesy Veritas Fine Cannabis
The introduction of the Cookies brand brought a new level of cultivar obsession to the Colorado market. One of the more notable differences in cookies is that the consumer can taste a specific variety, as opposed to similar varieties on the similar end of the spectrum. “Cookies are very different; for us it was a little learning curve, ”says Spadafora.
Veritas wanted to bring as many types of cookies to market as possible from the very beginning in order to familiarize buyers with the brand and its history. Now it is working on introducing a regular rotation of new varieties. “There will be something new every month for a month and a half,” says Spadafora. “Now that we’re getting started and we’re established, we’re going to be adding a lot more strains to the line-up.”
What strains have proven to be the most popular in Colorado? “Everyone loves Gary Payton,” he notes. “Georgia Pie is next, one of my favorites. Then I would say Cake Mix and Blanco from the lemon side. These four have done really well. People are big fans of White Runtz too. “
But according to Spadafora, Colorado consumers can’t go wrong with cookies. “There wasn’t a load that someone didn’t like,” he promises. “But with certain you can see more speed. Legacy types of cookies like Gary Payton and Georgia Pie that have been around for a long time are definitely getting a lot of attention on the retail side. “
And what’s coming soon? “All the big cookie hitters will be out at some point,” says Spadafora. “One couple that are definitely on the way here are London Pound Cake, Cereal Milk. Some of the new ones too; they are in production. We’ll see new varieties towards the end of this year, early next year. “
In the meantime, Spadafora has a hot tip on a secret type of cookie. “My personal favorite is the Grandiflora Project 4510,” he reveals. “It’s one of the lesser-known types of cookies. Grandiflora focuses on very complex varieties; the taste profiles are very interesting. The look and smell of the flower – it looks like everything else you see in the garden. For me it’s a very relaxed, very stoned, but not too stoned high that I enjoy. It’s a great way to decompress and feel disconnected from the rest of the world. All the people in the garden, it’s everyone’s secret breed. This is just the spiciest. It is really based on the substance of the flower. This cannabis is really something very special. ”
His second favorite variety? Pancakes. “My wife describes pancakes as the xanax of cannabis, very relaxing,” explains Spadafora. “A good, ‘My day is over, I just want to relax’ sort of thing. And both did us good. “
Still, launching a brand during a pandemic wasn’t just “butterflies and rainbows,” recalls Spadafora. “It’s fun for our team. The idea of launching a new brand in a market is terrifying in normal times. It’s even more frightening during a pandemic. It was cool to be part of something that people are passionate about and we can see how they are excited. At a time when many things that normally make us happy are not available, this is a ray of hope for people. “
You can find cookies at many stores in the area including A Cut Above, Colorado Harvest Company, Diego Pellicer, The Dab, Simply Pure, and Wolf Pac. The varieties are characterized by their playful packaging, with bright, whimsical animations on an iconic blue background. And you will see cookies in other places soon.
“They are the largest cannabis brand in the country; they’re in every state, ”says Spadafora. “But they understand that they are still learning; It’s very early on and they’re looking for feedback and growing – which is phenomenal. You were very open and communicative the whole time.
“One thing I love about the relationship is that they don’t see it like McDonald’s, where every place makes the same burger,” Spadafora concludes. “They understand that cannabis reacts differently to different regions and climates. And they’re really excited to hear from our grow team about what’s working, what’s not working, what’s going well. Refinement.”
Cookies opens its first Colorado pharmacy on Thursday, November 5th on South Broadway 2057.
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Lindsey Bartlett is a writer, photographer, artist, Denver native, and weed snob. Her work has been published in Vanity Fair, High Times, and Leafly, to name a few.