Smart cookie or half-baked? Here's a review of West Fargo's new Crumbl Cookies
Forum columnist Tammy Swift offers her thoughts after sampling some of the buzzworthy brand's cookie options.
WEST FARGO — I am on my way to becoming a certified Crumblologist.
For the last three weeks, I have plunked down the $18 for a six-pack of Crumbl Cookies, hurried the warm box home as if transporting a kidney and eagerly sampled the flavors.
Crumbl seems to be to 2022 what Mrs. Fields Cookies were to the mall food courts and airport terminals of the ’80s.
Co-founded by Jason McGown and Sawyer Hemsley in Utah in 2017, the brand has enjoyed explosive growth — including a store in Bismarck and the brand-new store at 833 24th Ave. E., Suite J, in West Fargo.
Part of their success is certainly due to their huge, chunky cookies (4 ½ inches across and tipping the scale at 5 ½ ounces) and imaginative flavors (ICEE/blue raspberry or Cereal Milk/Fruity Pebbles cookies, anyone?).
But it’s also due to a brilliant marketing strategy that includes serving just six types of cookies at a time from their 200-cookie roster, then swapping them out each week. The only exception is Crumbl’s cornerstone cookie, milk chocolate chip, which is always on the menu.
They’ve also used TikTok to their advantage, showcasing a cavalcade of gooey, frosted, decadent goodies weekly to millions of salivating followers.
Of course, I had to find out what the fuss was all about.
While I haven’t tried every single cookie they’ve served in the last three weeks, I have sampled my share. So here’s my rundown, ranging from one chocolate chip for “Have a carrot instead,” to five chips for “Worth every calorie.”
The classic chocolate chip cookie
Some say this is the “best chocolate chip cookie” you’ll ever taste, although I still stand by Jacques Torres’ decadent version.
But if you (understandably) don’t want to spend 24 to 72 hours making cookies, the Crumbl version is a nice option. Their cookie is soft, chunky, chewy and uses a high-quality, oversized milk chocolate chip to even out the cookie-to-chocolate ratio. It’s not too sweet and has nice notes of brown sugar and vanilla too. (However, they could ratchet up the vanilla just a skosh.)
4.5 out of 5 chips
My partner is a huge fan of M&M cookies. He gave these an immediate thumbs-up and said they might even qualify as his all-time favorite in the M&M cookieverse. These seem built on the same sturdy foundation of a chocolate chip cookie dough: a brown-sugary base, but are generously spiked with M&Ms, the salty edge of peanut butter, semisweet chunks and the welcome chewiness of oatmeal.
5 out of 5 chips
Crumbl recently celebrated Shark Week with this classic sugar cookie, frosted with a light-blue buttercream icing and two gummy shark candies.
It’s an all-around excellent cookie. I found myself sneaking back in the kitchen every half hour or so to slice off another frosted chunk and, before I knew it, those candy sharks had nowhere else to swim. I had slivered their frosting ocean into oblivion.
Most mass-produced sugar cookies really fail when it comes to the frosting, which leaves a chemically aftertaste of food coloring, preservatives and vanillin.
Fortunately, Crumbl’s icing wasn't like this. It has a nice, light, well-beaten consistency, a real vanilla flavor and the right amount of sweetness.
5 out of 5 chips
Strawberry Ice Cream Bar
This strawberry-and-vanilla cookie is topped with whipped vanilla buttercream and a vanilla strawberry streusel.
Although pretty to look at, I didn’t love it. There was something vaguely artificial about the strawberry streusel and I didn’t really pick up the strawberry taste at all. It was just sweet on sweet on sweet. It made me wonder if a tangy cream cheese icing might have been a better choice?
3 out of 5 chips
This newcomer features a brown sugar cookie with a maple drizzle. It’s like something from Grandma's cookie jar: a soft, pillowy texture, with the warm flavor of maple. However, it still didn't surpass my Mom's frosted brown-sugar cookies.
4 out of 5 chips
I could not get the 22-year-old in our house to try this one, as he calls coconut “tasty paper.” But I was eager to sample this coconut-rich cookie, which is topped with a fluffy coconut frosting, shredded coconut and a fairly random rainbow candy.
I was not disappointed. The coconut added a welcome crunchy texture and the frosting was luxurious and tasty. But I threw out the candy.
4.5 out of 5 chips
Engineered for the serious sweet tooth, this chocolate cookie is spiked with milk chocolate chips, smothered with caramel topping, then topped with more caramel and a sprinkle of sea salt.
As I looked at this gooey, sticky, fudgy confection, I envisioned the type of over-the-top sweetness which hits the back of the throat and hijacks any other flavor which might be present.
But I was pleasantly surprised.
As some pastry chef figured out long ago, salt really does help alleviate sweetness.
The sweetness between the caramel and the chocolate was also nicely balanced. This cookie is chocolaty and rich, but the overall flavor isn’t shockingly sweet.
5 out of 5 chips