It can be described most simply as one of the city’s best kept (chewy, delicious, sweet) secrets. Follow the brick road south on Saginaw Street. Tucked away on Flint’s southside between Oakley and Atherton roads, you’ll find—if you look hard enough—The Cookie Jar.
Open for just one year and still unknown to many, I would have never found it if not for a friend’s search for her favorite brand of ice cream and a recommendation from a local politician. Looking for a local outlet for an Ashby’s ice cream fix, friend and fellow Flint native, Dr. Sunita Tummala stumbled upon The Cookie Jar in an online search. Neither of us had heard of it so we read the first review:
“One of the best chocolate chip cookies I've ever had. Crispy on the edges yet chewy in the middle. Everything is from scratch. Stop in and you won't be disappointed,” former Flint Mayor Dayne Walling posted just weeks after it opened.
“All of the sudden my business began to pick up. More and more people were coming in because of his review,” said Teressa Morris, who previously used the business to do special orders for a private business that also supplied all the cakes for Chip’s Shrimp and Fish, a local soul food restaurant with Flint and Burton locations.
Once you walk up to the window of this little white building, your senses are overcome with the sublime smell of Morris’s aromatic dough baking to perfection. Baking, for Morris, is a passion and it is obvious.
The cookies cost $2 a piece, but are nearly the size of an old 45 vinyl record. The menu is simple. Choose from six varieties: chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, peanut butter, sugar, lemon-sugar, and The Million Dollar cookie—with chocolate chips, walnuts, pecans and caramel.
“My husband said that cookie tastes like a million bucks. So he gets credit for the name of that,” says Morris of her best selling cookie. She also offers special order cakes and cupcakes as well as that Ashby’s ice cream hand-dipped in the warmer months.
Morris began her business journey in 2007 when she first baked the Million Dollar Cookie in her home kitchen. Family and friends encouraged her to start a business. Then her son asked her to bake a bunch of cookies for him to take to the barber shop he frequents. She packaged close to 50 cookies in a large glass cookie jar, each wrapped and tied with bows. They all sold in less than two hours.
“My son came home and said, ‘Momma, you’re going to have to bake more cookies,” she says. And, a business was born, taking its name from that glass cookie jar that emptied so quickly.
For five years, Morris filled all of her orders working out of her home kitchen. By 2012, her kitchen could not handle the demand for her cookies and cakes and she purchased the building on South Saginaw Street and installed commercial ovens. Fast forward five more years and Morris took the advice of friends, family and regular customers by opening to the public in August 2017 on the Friday of the city’s annual Back to the Bricks festival.
Expectations were high for this summer—her first full summer after opening—but a fire at The Cookie Jar caused extensive damage, forcing Morris to replace her ovens and close the business for nearly six weeks and just reopened Aug. 6.
With grace, a positive attitude, and her deep faith, Morris considered the setback a minor bump in the road—one that allowed her to come back even better than before, she says. And, you’ll believe it because Teressa Morris exudes joy. Spend any time with or talking to her, and you start seeing that she’s just not a woman that lets anything get her down. “This is my passion. I wake up each day and get to do what I love to do—bake. And knowing my cookies or cupcakes make others happy is a wonderful feeling.”
And so Morris keeps on keeping on, hoping more people will start to hear about The Cookie Jar. Then maybe she will look into an even bigger and better location.
As for the next chapter, Morris is just hoping in the short-term that more people start to hear about The Cookie Jar. After that, maybe a bigger and better location. Of course, she knows there is no guarantee she will keep growing—but no matter what happens she knows where she will be.
“Some people have urged me to move out of Flint when that time comes. I tell them no way. I was born and raised here, and I am one of the believers when it comes to this city,” Morris says.
A believer she is. And her cookies will make anyone a believer. Guaranteed.
The Cookie Jar is located at 3207 S. Saginaw Street in Flint. It's open 2-7 p.m. Monday through Friday. For more information, check out The Cookie Jar Facebook page