While he doesn’t want to be sitting at a desk programming as a career, John still enjoys programming for himself. He’s working on making programs to make his business run more smoothly for himself and for cookie-eaters everywhere, like an online delivery form. “I’m a huge nerd… a huuuge nerd. All this technological stuff, I love throwing it into the business.”
With the support of his friends who have sacrificed their stomachs for taste testing, John went through a few rounds of testing before hitting the right recipe. He makes the cookies at Crop Circle Kitchen in Jamaica Plain, a popular place for culinary entrepreneurs who want to get started in the industry but can’t afford their own space. Even though they’ll stay delicious for the whole week, John insists on baking the cookies fresh on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday mornings. He’s selling 2 types of cookies right now, Snickerdoodle and his personal favorite, Chocolate-Chip, but there are already 10 other flavors ready to be introduced.
The business has already hit an early stride, and John is trying to soak up every moment of it. “It’s all really surreal. I like that organic growth aspect to it. I just can’t even believe that this stuff is happening. When I finished this weekend, I went home and just couldn’t fall asleep. I was up until 6 the next morning and woke up at 9 to start baking.” Matching his vivid enthusiasm, he has taken to wearing his bright orange jumpsuit while delivering cookies as a way for people to recognize him and say hello.
Sweet Idea has been spreading more or less without formal press coverage. “I’m really happy to hear that it’s been spreading sort of virally. It’s really cool to have that organic growth aspect to it. I think that people really attach to a business when they find it on their own, you know? It makes you really connected to it, so that’s sort of what I’ve been trying to cultivate here. And I’m not trying to do it dishonestly, either; I would love to learn as many of my customers’ names as possible. Obviously it’s going to be difficult, but I want to make this business a part of campus and a part of Boston as well.”
The ultimate goal may be to spread Sweet Idea far and wide to other campuses, but John knows that it’s not as easy as it sounds. “I’ve heard from a lot of people at different campuses that they’d love to have it there and I’d love to bring it to them, but there are a lot of elements incorporated in this that are difficult to replicate. It’s not exactly like a Taco Bell or something that you can just franchise out easily… well actually, I’ve never worked at Taco Bell before so I can’t really say for sure, but I do know that at Taco Bell that they’re not biking around for 6 hours in the rain and snow. So it’s a labor of love and I’d love to spread it if I can, but I don’t want this to be a big thing around the country or anything like that.”
“It has always made me a little upset how some people don’t really give Boston the respect it deserves for some of its food and I don’t think I’m going to do a lot to change that because I’m basically selling junk food off of a bicycle and I know that,” John says, “but anything I can do to promote the food industry out here. That includes getting into your own kitchen, baking for yourself, and feeling comfortable about it.”