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BWW Blog: Schmackary's - The Cookies of Broadway ft. Zachary “Schmackary” Schmahl

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Grab a Schmackary’s cookie, turn on some Broadway tunes, and enjoy our discussion!

BWW Blog: Schmackary's - The Cookies of Broadway ft. Zachary “Schmackary” SchmahlIf you're a fan of Broadway, you've probably heard of the famous "Cookies of Broadway", created by a bakery known as Schmackary's. Fans and actors alike rave about these special cookies with names like "The Candy Bar", "Rosemary's Baby", and even "Monster". You might have even heard whispers about the fact that people can send these cookies to their favorite Broadway stars, or that you can order cookies from the stars themselves! What exactly is Schmackary's?

Schmackary's originally started in Zachary's apartment before moving to its first home at 45th Street and 9th Avenue, one of its current locations. Another location opened in Cooper Square but is temporarily closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. The bakery states that it is "Generation Y's Answer to the Old American Bake Shop" and boasts values of creativity and authenticity while still keeping it "old school" with reimagined classics. The reason Schmackary's was created is quite simple - Why should we settle for simple Chocolate Chip cookies? Zachary "Schmackary" Schmahl decided to take matters into his own hands and began creating delicious cookies with unique flavors that always hit the perfect spot between sweet and salty.

And the unique flavors aren't the only thing that make Schmackary's special. Along with providing the perfect snack for either before or after a show (or even just a snack when you're not seeing a performance), the bakery gives back to the Broadway community. During an event called Broadway Bakes, Broadway stars like Andrew Rannells, Gavin Creel, and Laura Osnes work behind the counter and sell cookies to fans! The events over the years have raised over $53,000 for the Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS (more commonly known as BCEFA) fund.

To be quite honest, I don't remember how I first learned about Schmackary's. It was probably through some sort of article about Broadway Bakes, but it feels like it's been a staple of my theatre life for as long as I can remember. Every time I go to New York, even if the trip isn't Broadway-related, I make sure to stop at Schmackary's to get some cookies. You could consider me a fangirl of the bakery - I tell every person I know who's going to Manhattan to visit and get themselves a treat. Even if they're not going, I encourage them to order a "flight" of cookies online, because who doesn't need some sweetness during this pandemic?

Of course, I have to mention some of my own favorite cookies! The best one has to be the Funfetti - A sugar cookie with rainbow sprinkles and delicious vanilla cream cheese icing. In a close second is Cookies & Cream, which has, as you can guess, Oreo bits and vanilla cream cheese frosting. And my third favorite? Probably the Candy Bar, a delicious mix of Snickers, Butterfingers, Reeses Pieces, and toffee bits. But to be quite honest, there isn't a single cookie that I have disliked from Schmackary's! And don't get me started on the cookie cakes, A.K.A. the greatest dessert mankind has ever created.

This past week, I had the pleasure of speaking with Zachary "Schmackary" Schmahl about his company's connection with Broadway. So grab a Schmackary's cookie, turn on some Broadway tunes, and enjoy our discussion!

An Interview with Zachary "Schmackary" Schmahl

*This interview has been edited for length and clarity*

Kat: How did Schmackary's first get involved with show business and Broadway in general?

Zachary: I used to be an actor before cookies took over my life. And so I always had many actor friends. When I decided that I was going to bake cookies for a living I was doing it very illegally out of my apartment on 49th Street. The first people that I told about it were all my actor friends, and I'd say, "Hey, you know, I'm starting to sell cookies". And then my friends told their friends, and their friends told their friends, and before I knew it, I was sending cookies to all the different theaters. Then I met up with the people who run the Actors Fund and they asked if I would start providing cookies for their special performances. And that was when the exposure from the Broadway community took off. It was around the time that Twitter was becoming this hot new thing. And all the actors who were on Broadway were like, "Oh, my God, these amazing cookies!" and taking pictures. And then people just started ordering like crazy because these actors were talking and people were like, "What's Schmackary's? I've never heard of it". And before I knew it, cookies took over my life and my apartment and it became clear very quickly that I needed to open up a store because I couldn't keep doing this out of my apartment.

When I opened up my store on 45th and 9th, we got incredible support from the Broadway community. People that I've looked up to my entire life, singing my praises, and I'm like, "Oh my god, I can't even imagine this". They showed us so much love, especially when Newsies was hot. The "fansies" started ordering like crazy, and we kind of just became this cult sensation overnight. I wasn't expecting in our first year that we would do as well as we did. We opened up on our first day and there was a line out the door and it never really went away! So when it came time that I was finally making money for the first time in my life, I was like, "You know what, I definitely want to give back". We've continued giving since then! For nine years now we've been a partner with the Actors Fund.

About a year after we opened, I was like, "You know what? Let's do a charity event. Let's do something crazy". I had this little pipe dream - What if we had Broadway stars working behind the counter and trying to raise money for Broadway Cares? And I started asking people through Twitter, and literally every single person we asked said yes! And so we started a charity event that we called "Broadway Bakes", where for five days, we had celebrities working behind our counter. All the tips and half the proceeds made during the time that the actors were working was given to Broadway cares. I think in our first year we made like $11,000. It was just crazy!

And I love that even though I left the business a long time ago, I've always felt such a connection to the community and really gotten to stretch my own artistic wings through what I do. Like I said, it's just been amazing to get such praise and admiration from people that I've looked up to my entire life, saying to me, "Oh my gosh, I'm such a fan of yours!". And I'm like, "You're a fan of mine?". It's just been so touching that the Broadway community has, from the beginning, supported my company, and they have continued to support me all these years and it means so, so much. And I love that we're considered the "Cookie of Broadway" because it's just like I said - My dream was always to make it on Broadway. And it's true in a very unconventional way, you know?

Kat: Yeah, exactly! In the beginning, you mentioned how people would send cookies to different Broadway shows. How was the idea of officially sending cookies through the website established?

Zach: There were a lot of orders once the fans found out about us. They knew how much the stars loved Schmackary's. Obviously, on Broadway, the stars get so many gifts from fans, but the one thing that they're very strict about at stagedoor is that they can't accept food, you know? And so people would say, "Oh, I really want to send cookies to the show", and we started getting requests for it. And I thought, why don't we just take out that middleman step? We'll just deliver for free to Broadway shows because clearly, we want the actors to have the cookies.

And so I created a section on our website where we didn't do any delivery fee. You just buy the cookies. And we'll be the middleman and we'll go and deliver your cookies straight to the stagedoor. Right away, the stagedoor managers started knowing all of our delivery guys - "Oh Schmackary's is delivering again". It's really nice, you know, and especially when a few years ago it was that one season where every show on Broadway had some movie star in it like Tom Hanks or Orlando Bloom. We were sending cookies to these huge celebrities on a daily basis and I just couldn't believe it.

But it's amazing that people can share their love and admiration to these people. We get reposts all the time from stars saying, "Oh my God, thank you so much for the cookies!". And a lot of times people will say, "I got in backstage at the show because I sent cookies to the star. And then they tweeted at me or grabbed me and said they got me a backstage pass". It's really awesome to be that catalyst that connects people. That's something I've always loved to do in my own life!

Kat: Which show would you say has the most cookies sent to it?

Zachary: I think Newsies took the cake for how many cookies we were sending to any single show. The little fangirls and fanboys loved those Newsies so much. We would send multiple deliveries to different people in the cast every single day! Last year, Beetlejuice was also a very popular one.

Kat: Yeah, so the younger fans tend to get into stuff like that.

Zachary: I mean, I think the younger fans are the ones who really send more frequently. But there are people who are joining casts, there are friends or family who are sending cookies, or if it's an actor's last show. They're getting orders like that and then sometimes people will send cookies for the entire cast!

Kat: Have you had any special experiences that have come out of being involved with Broadway through Schmackary's?

Zachary: Through our Broadway Bakes event and other collaborationss, I have literally developed friendships with people that I've looked up to my entire life. I've gotten to meet people that I always dreamed of meeting through Schmackary's. It's one of those things I can't even say how much it means to me as a little dorky theater kid from Nebraska. Being able to come to New York and not just meeting these people, but actually developing amazing connections with them and knowing that when we do have charities that there are people that I can count on. Audra McDonald is always like, "Anytime you need me, I am here, we love Schmackary's so much", and I'm like, "Audra McDonald, I don't even know what to say!".

It's just been so amazing to feel so accepted by a community that I admired ever since I was a kid.

Kat: Do you have plans to bring back Broadway Bakes after the pandemic?

Zachary: I would love nothing more. This year we were planning to do Broadway Bakes, and then everything else happened which was a shame because the event always coincides with our anniversary. It's sad to be in the neighborhood and to not see the vibrancy that it normally has. So yes, I so look forward to Broadway (and Broadway Bakes) coming back. But I think that as long as we're here on 45th Street, we will always maintain that connection with Broadway because it's something that fuels my heart and it makes me so happy. Getting to see so many fans be so elated to meet and be able to have conversations with their idols. And, at the same time, watching these stars have so much fun working at my store. And then at the crux of it all is we're raising money for charity. We're doing so much good. And it's a win-win all around.

Kat: And I have to ask a final question - What's your favorite Schmackary's cookie flavor?

Zachary: My favorite . . . I think that if I had to choose, I would say the Sweet Corn cookie is probably my favorite. And mainly because it was the first gluten-free cookie I ever came out with. I'm not even a gluten-free person! But it was so difficult coming up with that flavor. And when I nailed it, it was like, "Oh my God, this cookie is perfection!". It really ticks that box of sweet and salty and it has a lot of texture elements in it. It's not this crazy sweet cookie, you know, it's just perfectly balanced.

Kat: Well thank you for answering my questions!

Zachary: Yeah! One thing that we've always loved is to be able to be a conduit and a support, for Broadway, and to be able to lend a hand when we can in any way. Being able to give back to the community has always brought us so much joy. It's been really hard to operate a business during the pandemic and to try to keep up when the community around you is completely shuttered and we don't know when things will be back. I have no doubt that once the pandemic is over and things go back to normal that we will go back to thriving again. We love being able to support the community, but right now, we need support too. We all have to be there for each other and when times are good, we can't wait to be there once again for the people who have been there for us.

If you are able to support Schmackary's during this difficult time, please consider ordering via online or by visiting the currently-open location in Hell's Kitchen (362 West 45th Street).

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From This Author Student Blogger: Kat Mokrynski