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Home-Based Cookie Company Caters to State College and the World

by on February 12, 2014 6:40 AM

If the sight of Anne Yorks' cookies has you reaching for your phone to make a spontaneous, last-minute Valentine's Day order, you're out of luck.

Flour Box Bakery, Yorks' home-based cookie operation, is booked for the next two weeks. This week, like the two weeks before, Yorks will bake more than 600 Valentine's Day cookies.

Calling them cookies fails to do them justice. Mixing to packaging, Yorks' cookies take at least three hours to create.

From elegantly designed hearts to her whimsical Valentine's Day Tic Tac Toe cookie boards (complete with 12 mini "X" and "O" hearts), her designs are edible art.

Even during non-holiday weeks, Yorks finds it difficult to accommodate same-week orders. The good news: If you do plan ahead (she asks for three weeks), you're just a short drive away. The bakery is located in Bellefonte. Many of her biggest fans can't say the same. Flour Box has 283,458 Facebook fans — many of them from outside the U.S. (That following puts its Facebook page in nearly the same league as the "Sochi 2014 Winter Games," which has 365,637 likes.)

Yorks posts a new cookie project daily, generating thousands of likes and responses from people who want the details on her stunning peacock design or — so what if they're from Cambodia — really want to place an order. Yorks seems as surprised as the next person. "I'm just this mom who works from home," she says of her following. "It's sort of funny; it just grew beyond our expectations."

Seven years ago, Yorks left behind a full-time income to be a stay-at-home mom and attempt a career as a small business owner. A baker since a young age, Yorks started baking cookies for friends and family members and word of her talent quickly spread. All along, she has adhered to a motto of steady growth — and no double orders.

A 2001 graduate of Penn State, Yorks finds plenty of inspiration in her favorite college football team. Some of her first orders were "blue and white themed" cookies for tailgates and today, whether it's her own blue and white creations or special orders from her many Penn State customers, her alma mater continues to keep her busy. When the Penn State Sports Museum hired Yorks to make cookies for its 10th anniversary in 2012, she made cookies that represented each of the 17 varsity sports.

Other popular orders include pink strollers for new babies, houses for new homeowners, princess birthday cookies, and just about any animal. (Personally, I'm looking for an excuse to order the jellyfish cookies.) Her cookies are available at Callao Café and Market on Aaron Drive in State College. Yorks delivers her cookies on Tuesdays. That means you may be able to score one of her individually wrapped Valentine's Day creations. But don't wait. Customers have been known to wipe out a delivery with a single purchase. Back in December, Yorks posted about an imminent delivery at Callao, then found a customer waiting for her at the counter. "She wanted her pick," Yorks says.

Customers continually ask Yorks to share her techniques, which she does willingly. She recently started posting quick videos on her Facebook page and spends considerable time explaining her process in posts. Affable, modest and patient, Yorks is also in demand as a speaker. She's teaching a cookie class in Madrid this spring, as well as presenting as a speaker for CookieCon, the annual cookie art convention and show that attracts 450 people who pay $239 to talk cookies for three days and learn from the best in the business.

Yorks and her husband recently remodeled their garage to make additional space for her business. The renovations allowed her to launch her cookie school, where Yorks shares her baking tips and piping skills with small, intimate groups. In late January she held her first class, an introduction to decorating that cost $89 per student. It included one student who drove from Long Island and another from Virginia. Her next class is booked, and a spring class (she's yet to set a date) has a 20-person waiting list.

Perhaps the only people who don't have to wait for Yorks' cookies are her daughters, ages 2 and 6. On Friday, Yorks is heading to her older daughter's kindergarten class with two-dozen heart-shaped sugar cookies and several tubes of her homemade icing.

For a woman who has made a business out of precision, it's a welcome change of pace. "Decorating with children is so much fun because they don't care about the rules," she says, "they just love to squeeze the icing out."

To learn more about Flour Box Bakery or to place an order click HERE.

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Michele Marchetti is a freelance writer and the former managing editor of StateCollege.com. Prior to moving to State College, she spent more than 10 years writing for national magazines. Her work has appeared in a wide variety of publications, including Fortune, Fortune Small Business, Glamour, U.S. News & World Report, Runner's World, Good Housekeeping, Working Mother, Yoga Life and The Philadelphia Inquirer. Follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/MMStateCollege or contact her at mitchmarchetti@gmail.com
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