Thursday, December 13, 2012

Cookie Supply Chains for the Holidays

This is a very special time of the year with festivities, holiday decorations, bright lights, and many pleasant get-togethers.

This is also a time when some of us very much enjoy baking cookies and delivering the finished products to friends and neighbors.

I have written about my cookie baking in the past and am glad that I am joined by other academic colleagues, who enjoy baking as much as I do, and who also post photos of the finished products -- thanks to Dr. Laura McLay and to  Dr. Tallys Yunes  and I am sure that there are others.

This year, the inputs into my cookie production processes included: almonds, walnuts, and pecans from California, chocolate from Switzerland, rum from Bermuda (which we brought back a few years ago), cherries from Florida, flour and sugar, local eggs, yummy vanilla, and local jam.

I had done R&D to innovate my cookie selection this year, and included a recipe from my wonderful Swedish staff person at the School of Business, Economics and Law at the University of Gothenburg, Ms. Hall, who not only had baked some of these delicious Swedish cookies for me but had also provided me with the recipe.

I procured many of the ingredients several nights ago and last evening had the assembly line up and running. As one batch of cookies baked (pecan sandies, almond treats with cherries, Swedish tarts with jam, coconut macaroons dipped in chocolate, and more ) I also made rum balls, which did not require baking. We academics are really good at parallel processing (multitasking) as well as scheduling. My other innovation this year was to use parchment paper -- no cookies sticking and easy cleanup (my husband's job). This helped with the efficiency.

The joy of baking! Not only did the house smell great from all the aromas but it was also a lot of fun to arrange the cookies on plates for delivery. I will spare you the photos of what the sink looked like.

Today, I delivered some packaged plates and the ones below will be delivered over the next day or so,
As for the cookies that I sampled -- a baker needs to make sure the finished product is delicious -- I can attest that the pecan sandies and the rum balls were the best that I have ever made.

And, I heard even from one of my former undergrads in Operations Management at the Isenberg School of Management, who said that he was getting ready to make my rum balls for his family for Christmas (I had given him the recipe since he had sampled some at one of our INFORMS Student Chapter parties and the rum balls have become a tradition in his family).

The greatest pleasure is seeing the smiles on faces when we ring the doorbell to give a plate of our cookies!

Transportation (and consumption) are also essential components of cookie supply chains!

Of course, it is also great to practice what you preach and to show that their is actually some  scholarship involved I managed to find a research article on a bakery that cites one of our supply chain papers.