“How much do your cookies cost?!”
I hear that question a lot. Why are decorated sugar cookies so expensive? The ingredients aren’t that much, so why is the cookie so darn expensive. Allow me to elaborate for you non-cookie folk, and for you cookie peeps, you know exactly where I am coming from.
When Suzy Q was starting out back in 2009-2010, I sat down and did a cost analysis for her as far as how much did it cost to actually purchase all of the ingredients, and to be honest, it really isn’t that much. Depending on size, it can be less than $0.20 per cookie to about $1.00 per cookie, so why the upcharge? Simple, time and effort. I decided on my last batch of 25 cookies, to break down how long each part took me, so people could really see what all was involved.
- 5 hours. Baking the cookies – Friday night 7:00pm to 9:30pm. This included measuring all of the ingredients, mixing, rolling, cutting, baking AND clean-up, yes that counts folks, the dishes don’t do themselves, darn it.
- 4 hours. Making the icing – Saturday morning from 9:00am to 1:00pm. This time is spent measuring the sugar exactly, whipping the ingredients to the perfect peak and then making the colors. To be honest, the making of the icing is only about 20 minutes from go, it’s the colors that kill ya. Once you have the colors planned out that you will need for your design, you have to mix them and keep in mind that the longer the color sits, whether in the icing bag or on the cookie, the darker or richer it gets, so don’t go too dark or your finished product will not match the vision in your head. So you get that perfect blue, or burgundy, now you have to get it to the right consistency. Are you making piping and flood? That’s two different consistencies that you will need to whip it into, by hand, ¼ teaspoon of water at a time. For this batch I needed 8 colors in piping and flood. Once you get the right consistency, you need to put it in a piping bag or a flood bottle and seal those up tightly until you are ready to actually start decorating.
- 11 hours. Decorating the cookies – Saturday afternoon from 1:00pm to 12:00am. This is where the fun happens. You lay your blank cookie out, idea in mind and start going for it. For this batch, I made 3 extra cookies to practice on, that’s it. I had a pretty clear picture in my head and I wasn’t going to deviate from it, I mean a movie was made, ok multiple movies were made, on this subject so I was not at liberty to take creative license. If you don’t have a babysitter around (for you, not the kids), you might forget to take care of yourself while you are in the zone of icing. Believe me when I tell you that my husband forces me to eat while I decorate, because I will keep going and miss lunch or dinner so that I can finish my cookies. I literally take about 5-10 minutes to cram something down so that I can get back to decorating before the icing hardens and clogs a tip. After you finish decorating, you have your mess to clean up, tips to wash and dry and the color to try to get off your fingers. Good luck with that, by the way.
- 1 hour. Bagging and tagging – Sunday night from 6:00pm to 7:00pm. You have to wait until the icing is completely dry before you can even think about putting it in a bag and sealing it up. If you don’t, your icing can get smeared, or mottled, or crushed, then all of your hard work would be for nothing.
As you can see, the total time spent was over three days and 18.5 hours. 18.5 hours for 25 finished cookies. That’s nearly 45 minutes per cookie. Now, what are you getting charged for your cookies? Let’s look at two prices and see how that works out.
$2.00 per cookie. Your order consists of medium sized cookies that aren’t difficult to ice, perhaps just time consuming because of the detail.
$2.00 x 25 = $50.00 order that equates to $2.70 per hour of work done on the cookies.
$3.00 per cookie. Your order consists of medium to large cookies that are more complex and have added depth and dimension to the icing that required time between colors or layers to dry before moving onto the next one.
$3.00 x 25 = $75.00 order that equates to $4.05 per hour of work done on the cookies.
When you think about this in terms of what people actually get paid in their ‘real’ jobs, it seems rather minuscule doesn’t it? It is, trust me. Many of us do this as a hobby on the side, we have real jobs that we go to, and add this into our busy schedules because we love it. We love to hear people compliment our cookies, the design, the taste, even the presentation. That is why we do it. We know we will never make enough money on cookies to pay the bills, but we do make people smile. We make taste buds happy. We bring delight to children when they see their favorite character brought to life in cookie form, or to adults when they place an order for that someone special in their lives.