Bill Zack and Ann Dickerson are blending together their love of sports and cooking with their new Legends of the Game Cookie Company.
The Signal Mountain residents and former journalists decided to take a swing at a new career, opening for business in September in the Chattanooga/Hamilton County Business Development Center. Both have a background in sports writing: Zack traveled with the Atlanta Braves for 17 years as a beat writer covering the team for Morris Publishing, and Dickerson wrote about sports for the Chattanooga News-Free Press shortly after graduating from Vanderbilt.
Cookies resembling collections of baseball cards featuring "legends of the game" are the company's original specialty, but customers with interests outside the sports arena will find plenty to like as well.
Dickerson said customers usually seem impressed with the cookies' artwork, as many people have never seen anything like it before. Instead of creating designs using edible paper, she said Legends of the Game uses an FDA-approved printer which spits food coloring directly onto the cookie.
Customers can take a bite of their favorite high-resolution photo, submit their own design or choose from more than 500 stock images ranging from SEC football team mascots to famous works of art.
"I think people like that they can customize them," said Dickerson. "They can put whatever they ask for on it, even their own face."
Since practically any image imaginable can be transferred onto the cookies, they make great gifts which can be tailored to the interests of the recipient.
"If you know someone is a huge Auburn fan, you know if you bring them a huge thing of Auburn cookies they're going to be excited," she said.
Other ideas include cookies displaying a company logo mixed in with seasonal theme cookies to create a unique corporate gift for the holiday season.
Aside from the fun factor of unusual edible art, Dickerson said the cookies are also desirable for their taste.
"We worked for a year on the recipe and the icing to make them taste as good as they look," she said.
The company experimented with different sizes and has found that a 3.65-inch cookie, available in both round and rectangular shapes, works best. Certain company logos or images such as Van Gogh's "Starry Night" look best on the rectangular cookies, while the classic round shape is best for showcasing other artwork, Dickerson said.
Legends of the Game currently offers sugar and chocolate brownie flavor cookies, both of which are equally popular with customers. Dickerson said they would like to begin introducing new flavors after the holiday rush.
A minimum purchase of two dozen cookies is required for custom orders, which typically have a three-day turnaround, or around five days for orders of more than 1,000 cookies.
The cookies will also be sold individually at the Holiday Market Too! at the Chattanooga Convention and Trade Center Fridays and Saturdays, Dec. 11-12 and 16-17 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Dickerson said they will have baskets available for customers to fill with their choice of cookies displaying a variety of images.
As the volume of orders increases, Dickerson said they would like to purchase more machinery, as all cookies are now prepared by hand, and eventually ship their product nationwide.