FROM IDEA TO ICON. IT'S COOKIE TIME!
FIND OUT HOW A SIMPLE OVERSIZED CHOCOLATE CHUNK COOKIE BECAME A NEW ZEALAND ICON.
On the 1st of February 1983, 21-year-old Christchurch entrepreneur Michael Mayell packed his Mini Clubman with 70 jars of oversized chocolate chunk cookies and delivered these to 70 stores around Christchurch. By that afternoon the phone was ringing off the hook with new orders. Today, the brand, its mascot (Cookie Muncher), and those delicious cookies are all Kiwi icons.
"We've got a story like any other start up,” says Guy Pope-Mayell, Cookie Times’ Managing Director and Michael’s brother, “we only knew what we knew and away we went, guns blazing with what we thought was a great idea…which is what all businesses think when they first start. But when our cookies hit the market…things just went off!”
Guy remembers the early days when he’d work on the business after university, “I would arrive back from university, jump in the Mini with buckets of cookies in the back. I’d turn up the music (Men at Work and The Cure were favourites) and have an absolute blast. They’d hear the music before they saw the car! As a 19-year-old it was a very cool holiday job.” The white Clubman was Cookie Time’s first vehicle, “I don’t know if we chose the Mini or the Mini chose us. It was serendipity. We loved our Mini. It took us to bank meetings, it took us to lawyers and suppliers and it was, of course, our delivery vehicle. We had three-litre pails of cookies and it (the Mini) could hold about 150 buckets. They’re low to the ground so they zip around corners. They have a whole different driving experience and that’s part of their magic. It was just a classic, basic Mini that was there to do the job…and boy did it do the job!”
Guy puts the popularity of his cookies down to two things: its simplicity and the chocolate, “it’s not a complicated product. It’s the ingredients from your pantry and it’s baked fresh. It’s not trying to be something it’s not. And then there’s the big chocolate chunks,” he says.
Asked why he thinks brands become iconic, Guy says that the answer isn’t simple. He believes that it has to do with creating something that brings to life ideas that people already have within them but have not yet seen realised.
"The only reason I can come up with for why the big beautiful cookie jars are so well received is because the idea already exists within people. They want to relate to something and it’s just missing…and then there it is in front of them.
I think the MINI is similar. Maybe there's a part of us that wants to identify [with] something that’s functional and has a particular way that it drives. It’s something that met a need…and because it’s a universal need, the MINI brand just carries on.”