Editor’s note: This story was first published in ‘Dilated Pupil,’ an annual magazine about student culture in Santa Cruz.
There are two types of cookie eaters in this world. Those who, like me, prefer the thin and crispy snap of a chocolate chip cookie, and those like Cookie Cruz owner Matt O’Brien, who prefer their cookies thick, cakey and chewy.
Before tasting Cookie Cruz, I would have said that O’Brien keep his cookies on his side of the court. But alas, after ordering the Nutella and Cookies ’n’ Cream, the chewy cookie has infiltrated my home, heart and long held opinions of what a cookie should be like.
Matthew O’Brien knows how to keep a good thing going. Not only will he deliver cookies to your front door during the late hours of the night, but he makes sure they are warm, gooey, and coupled with Marianne’s ice cream and/or cold milk. It’s Santa Cruz, so he also provides for the gluten-free and vegans. Cookie Cruz (formerly All-Nighter Cookies) boasts eight cookie flavors, including (in order of my personal favorites) Nutella, cookies ’n’ cream, chocolate chip and chocolate mint chip.
“A lot of people are surprised that there is no weed in the cookies,” O’Brien laughs. “Seriously, most people think that they are weed cookies, especially when I first tell them what my business is.”
It’s not a surprise, really, since Cookie Cruz is particularly well-known among college students. O’Brien says they sometimes will tip with weed or acid.
O’Brien uses his dad’s chocolate chip cookie recipe, which uses oatmeal flour to give it a more substantial, wholesome bite. Most of the other cookie flavors are based off of the chocolate chip recipe, as well. He says he’s also experimented with a Cheetos cookie and a peanut butter and jelly cookie, which I continue to hope he brings back so that I have an excuse to order another dozen. But he’s got a lot of requests lined up already.
“I get requests for the white chocolate macadamia a lot. I haven’t done that one yet,” O’Brien says. “The Cheeto one is really good. I’m telling you, it’s sweet and salty—it’s so good. I’ve also done a double peanut butter one that was peanut butter and stuffed with peanut butter. Before summer is over, I want to do an orange creamsicle cookie.”
Cookie Cruz has regulars who order cookies every week, or even every day. Beyond satisfying the late-night munchies of students around UCSC, they serves families, middle and high schoolers schoolers, the 911 call center, police dispatch and hospitals. O’Brien says nurses, in particular, love them.
“We’ve got them hooked,” O’Brien says. “I tell my delivery people that if they are delivering to a hospital, they have to call the nurse who ordered it, because if they just leave the cookies there they always get stolen and eaten. It happens all the time.”
A UCSC alumnus, O’Brien has been running his cookie delivery business for three years since he started it in his apartment in 2015. He ran it all himself at first, baking cookies and delivering them from UCSC to Aptos almost nightly for a year. Eventually it got to the point where it was too busy for him to run the company alone. Now he has eight employees to do the driving for him, though he still makes deliveries.
“I just really liked cookies, and ate them a lot, plus I wanted to start a business, so I just made this happen,” O’Brien says. “I only started off with chocolate chip cookies, then I added snickerdoodle and mint. Now there is a bunch of milks, ice creams and vegan cookies.”
O’Brien says that they will spend one day mixing one type of cookie for the entire week, then they will scoop and freeze it for quick and easy baking. This continues throughout the week for all of the types of cookies. They are open nightly seven days a week.
“My whole life, I’ve only worked for private businesses, and I wanted to make my own schedule and be my own boss,” he says. “I just really like sleeping in and surfing, and I wanted to start a business that I could do all of that. So, here we are.”