(credit: KTVT/KTXA)

(credit: KTVT/KTXA)

PLANO (CBSDFW.COM) – What started as an edible gift — a bouquet of decorated sugar cookies — has blossomed into a big business. Plano company Cookies By Design is now celebrating 30 years with, for the first time, the introduction of a new treat.

The sweet smell of freshly-baked sugar cookies is the first thing you notice when walking into the Cookies By Design corporate offices. “We bring our ingredients through here,” said Jennifer Selzer, the company’s vice president of operations, “and this is the equipment we use and the group that comes in each morning and bakes our cookies.”

There is a wall of cookie cutters — all kinds of shapes and sizes — for the made-to-order goodies. Workers nearby knead, roll and cut out the shapes in sugar cookie dough.

Looking back, this company has really grown in the past 30 years of business. “Our founder/owner, Gwen Gilliam, was a 43-year-old newly divorced, single mom,” stated CEO Jack Long, “and she had a great idea of combining flowers and cookies, because she realized there really wasn’t a gift for guys.”

Now, there are 100 franchises across the country, plus some locations expected to open outside of the United States.

Cookies By Design has stuck to its original sugar cookie recipe, but that is changing. Gluten-free cookies are now available, giving folks with celiac disease another edible option. “When it comes to baking, when you take that gluten out, it really takes a lot of work and a little bit of science and a lot of luck and patience to really mimic and create a product that tastes as good as a non-gluten-free product,” said Selzer.

The company worked for months to perfect its gluten-free recipe, not only to make sure that it followed FDA standards, but to be sure that it also tastes good. To prevent cross-contaimination, the company said that gluten-free batches are made in a separate area.

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