The hateful reaction to an LGBTQ Pride-inspired sugar cookie threatened to tank a bakery in Lufkin, Texas.
But when cookie lovers from Lufkin and across the US caught a glimpse of the vibrant cookies (and the bakery’s disheartened response to canceled orders and cruel comments), they turned what could have been a potentially devastating week for the business into one of the bakery’s busiest weeks in 11 years.
The initial poor response stung Confections bakery co-owner Dawn Cooley, who runs the bakery with her sister, Miranda. But for every negative comment or bad review they’ve received as a result of the rainbow-striped cookies, there are “20 positive ones” that make all the difference, she said.
“Honestly, we just made a rainbow heart cookie,” Cooley told CNN. “We do not deserve all this attention. We give gladly and perform small acts of service or kindness without expecting anything in return, be it acknowledgment or praise; we certainly don’t expect hatred.”
The swell of support has been overwhelming in the days since their cookies debuted, and it’s been difficult to keep up with the new demand. But throughout the good and the bad, she’s just going to keep baking.
“We are just doing the best we can,” she said. “Making our cookies.”
Customers bought up the entire inventory
Confections bakery had never made a Pride-inspired cookie in its 11-year history, mostly because a customer had never thought to order one. So when a patron asked Cooley whether she planned to sell rainbow cookies for LGBTQ Pride Month, she happily obliged.
“I was simply trying to be inclusive,” she said.
She settled on heart-shaped sugar cookies, with glossy, rainbow-striped frosting. Cooley shared a photo of six of them on the bakery’s Facebook page with the caption, “All lovers of cookies and happiness are welcome here.”
The backlash was swift and shocking, she said. A customer canceled an order of five dozen cookies, and a “significant amount of followers” un-liked the bakery’s Facebook page.
For a bakery that nearly closed several times throughout the pandemic, she said, the negative feedback was devastating.
“I wanted to show that we love all people,” Cooley said. “I knew some people wouldn’t like it, but I didn’t expect this reaction.”
She addressed the flood of criticism on the bakery’s Facebook page and let customers know that there would be an “overabundance of cookies” available for purchase from the canceled order. Her heart felt heavy from the “hateful message” her bakery had received, she said.
“Hopefully tomorrow will be better,” she wrote.
The next day, customers lined up down the street and around the block to buy the bakery’s cookies. Within hours, Confections completely sold out of its entire day’s stock of 12 dozen cookies, plus the extra five dozen from the canceled order, and its cookie and cupcake decorating kits, Cooley said.
Since the rainbow cookies debuted on Facebook, Confections’ small-but-mighty team of three has had to close early several times in the last week to bake as many cookies as they can to meet demand.
Would-be customers from across the US have inquired about shipping, including Brian Cuban, brother of billionaire and NBA team owner Mark Cuban. (Confections doesn’t ship yet, so Cuban bought $100 worth of cookies to donate to a children’s charity in town, he told the Dallas Morning News.)
Cooley and her coworkers have hardly had time to pick up the phone since the rainbow cookies lit up Lufkin last week, and they’ve only been able to take three new orders this week – the three women can only bake so much, Cooley said.
In lieu of donations to the bakery, Cooley and her sister asked fans to donate to local Lufkin animal shelters (a decision that received some criticism online, too, since the sisters did not recommend LGBTQ+ nonprofits). Cooley told CNN the charities suggested are “near and dear to [her and her sister’s] hearts.”
Cooley said the “show of support means everything,” even though the bakery’s detractors are just as loud.
“It’s so easy to just concentrate on the negative sometimes,” she said. “When you see the same hurtful thing being said to you over and over again, it’s easy to doubt yourself. But I know it’s in my heart, and I know what my intentions are and were.”
The bakery will close for a brief summer break next week, Cooley said. When Confections reopens, they’ll bake as many rainbow cookies as their ovens will allow.