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Syracuse businessman bakes up success with Twisted Sugar cookie shops

By Tim Vandenack - | Feb 22, 2022
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Mike Jardine, founder of Twisted Sugar, stands inside the baking area of the cookie company's Syracuse locale on Monday, Feb. 14, 2022.
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A box of cookies from Twisted Sugar, the Syracuse-based cookie store operation, is pictured Monday, Feb. 14, 2022.
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McKenna Arciaga prepares a box of cookes at the Syracuse location of Twisted Sugar on Monday, Feb. 14, 2022.
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A box of cookies from Twisted Sugar, the Syracuse-based cookie store operation, is pictured Monday, Feb. 14, 2022.
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The logo of Twisted Sugar, the Syracuse-based cookie store operation.

SYRACUSE — What do you do after 25-plus years in the corporate world, after your job in the telecommunications industry is eliminated?

If you’re Mike Jardine — who now runs Twisted Sugar, the quickly expanding cookie company that launched out of Davis County and now has locales in eight states — you bake cookies.

He had initially taken up baking as a distraction to help alleviate the pressures of his corporate job. “Being the general manager, there are times when I had 200 employees. It’s pretty stressful. You try to find places outside work to relieve that stress,” he said.

After his telecommunications position was axed, though, and after trying his hand at flipping homes and working for start-up companies, he came to the realization that change was in order, big change. Cookies, perhaps, could open the next door.

Inspired by the success of Swig, the St. George-based chain specializing in dirty sodas and sugary soft drink concoctions, the beginnings of Twisted Sugar started taking shape. Sensing demand for sweet snacks but worried the market in Utah was saturated, he and wife Tonia moved with their family to Twin Falls, Idaho, and launched Sips N Sweet Treats there in 2015.

The Idaho locale — offering cookies and soft-drink concoctions — thrived, but missing Utah, Jardine sold the business, which remains, and the family returned to Utah. The Jardines opened the first Twisted Sugar in Layton in late 2016.

“We were there from morning to night for a long time,” Tonia Jardine said. The second locale followed in Syracuse, where the Jardines live, in March 2018 and serves as the Twisted Sugar headquarters.

Since then, the company has expanded at a clip. There are now 27 Twisted Sugar locations in eight states, including 15 in Utah, and Mike Jardine expects the total number of outlets to double within perhaps a year. The only thing that might hold back the growth, he says, is the ability to build the brick-and-mortar store locations.

“We do have a lot in the lineup that are going to be opening,” said Tonia Jardine, also instrumental in the launch of the business. Within just Weber and Davis counties, Twisted Sugar currently has locations in Roy, Pleasant View, South Ogden, Layton, Syracuse, Centerville and West Point.

The growth — the varied locations are now all operated by franchisees — has surprised the Jardines. The original vision was to create a business to sustain just the family. But others liked the cookies and saw opportunity.

The franchise operators are “just people who have been in and they think it would go great where they live,” Mike Jardine said. His son now owns and operates the original Layton and Syracuse operations as well as the Centerville store.

Jardine, who puts his focus on franchising efforts, suspects the company could have grown faster had he brought in other investors and managers to aid with expansion. Crumbl Cookies, another Utah-based cookie company, launched in 2017 in Logan and now has 361 stores spread across the country, according to its website.

But Jardine wanted to stay in the business’ driver’s seat. “I wanted to do it. I wanted to see how everything works,” he said.

Though the Twisted Sugar locations offer an array of mixed soda drinks, the driving force for the company has been the baked cookies, made fresh daily. The signature product is the Twisted Sugar cookie — a sugar cookie with coconut frosting and a twist of lime on top — but the stores offer a long list of cookies, developed largely by Mike Jardine. There are the caramel sugar, lemon raspberry sugar, banana cream, oatmeal cookie butter varieties and more.

“I think the cookies speak for themselves. That’s what attracts people,” Tonia Jardine said.

She thinks fewer and fewer people make their own home-baked goods, potentially boding for a bright future for places like Twisted Sugar. “It’s exciting and fun. It’s way more than we imagined it would be,” she said.

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