On March 1st, something sweet will be joining super dogs, fajitas and gyros down on Welch Avenue. Pookie’s Cupcakes will be setting up shop for your late-night sweet tooth cravings.
Five years ago, Jessica Hay and Tamara White would have never imagined that they’d be breaking into the cupcake business. The girls became friends and roomies by meeting through the ISU Theatre Department. Last November, the idea of selling cupcakes came about as an inside joke. But as friends and others around them mentioned that it really was a good idea, Jessica and Tamara decided to give it a go. And so Pookie’s Cupcakes was born—named Pookie after the pet-name the best friends teasingly called each other.
With Jessica, 22, still a student at Iowa State and Tamara, 25, being a recent Iowa State grad, starting a business hasn’t been a piece of cake. Neither of the girls coming from a business background, there has been a lot to learn, many hoops to jump and several all-nighters to pull. Jessica has taken over the marketing aspect of Pookie’s while Tamara manages the finances. And both take equal part in the baking.
Pookie’s Cupcakes are all homemade from fresh ingredients—these aren’t cupcakes out of a box. “All of our cupcakes look beautiful and taste beautiful,” Tamara told me while mixing up a batch of red velvet batter. The treats are all made in the kitchen of the Theta Xi house on Welch. The fraternity boys wake up many a morning with new flavors of cupcakes waiting to be sampled and reviewed. During our interview, one Theta Xi dropped in to praise the hot chocolate-flavored cupcake he’d recently tasted.
Jessica and Tamara are constantly coming up with new and creative flavors for their cupcakes. “We’re bringing the funky to cupcakes,” Jessica explained. The girls emphasize that Pookie’s isn’t your typical, pink-frosting and sprinkles kind of cupcake shop. As Tamara put it, they’re striving for something more “edgy and contemporary for a younger customer.”
So what funky, edgy, contemporary flavors of cupcake should you expect? Jessica’s favorite is the Tirami-pook! (tiramisu-flavored) while Tamara loves the Pook’s Peak, an Andes Mint-inspired concoction. There’s also a Pineapple Upside Down cupcake, Peanut Butter and Jelly cupcake, S’mores cupcake and Pink Champagne cupcake. There may be a Guiness cupcake in the works. (Yes, we’re talking beer-flavored cupcakes!)
I had the pleasure of interviewing Jessica and Tamara while they whipped up a batch of their signature Pookie, a red velvet cupcake topped with cream cheese frosting. The deep red cupcakes rose to plump, round perfection. Lucky me—I got to sample! And let me tell you that it was cream cheese, chocolately bliss. Yum!
Besides their vending booth on Welch, Pookie’s Cupcakes caters and will be providing cupcakes for Alpha Delta Pi’s upcoming 3-on-3 philanthropy and Relay for Life. Are there plans for opening their own shop? Maybe someday, but for now Pookie’s is all about bringing “handheld happiness” to Welch for about $2 a cupcake.