Giant gourmet fortune cookie shop comes to town
By Greg Laudani, Contributing Writer
Durham is about to be introduced to some pretty big cookies.
Fantastic Fortune Cookies makes fortune cookies nothing like what you would find at a Chinese restaurant. If you have any doubts about the rarity of the cookie’s size, good luck finding one the size of a grapefruit anywhere else.Their giant cookies are 10 times the size of a standard fortune cookie. And to go along with the cookie’s crazy size, it comes decorated in a variety of chocolates and sprinkles to choose from, including their wildly popular holiday theme cookies for Halloween, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and Easter.
Their new downtown location opens Friday. Oct. 3, at 74 Main St. next to Subway and Aroma Joe’s.
Made with a twist on a French Butter Cookie recipe, these desserts are focused on taste as well as presentation. Owner Troy Brisard, a native of Somersworth, New Hampshire, believes UNH students will fall in love with the cookies.
“The nice thing about the cookies is that they not only look great, they taste great, too,” Brisard said. “It is such a unique product that I think it will go over huge with the students.”
Fantastic Fortunes has three different cookie sizes: a baseball size, a softball size, and the giant.
Its giant cookies are an unfamiliar sight to many. One of many giant flavors, a current popular seller comes dipped in dark chocolate and topped with pastel sprinkles and chocolate drizzle. This enormous dessert is listed on the bakery’s website for $24.95 and will be available at the new downtown shop.
The Brisards lived in Cooperstown, New York, for nearly 10 years. They ran an ice cream shop a block away from the Baseball Hall of Fame for two years before moving back to New Hampshire, looking for an opportunity to open a bakery in the state where both Troy Brisard and his wife, Cam Brisard, graduated college from. Cam Brisard graduated from UNH and Troy Brisard from Southern New Hampshire University.
They found a home in Durham and bought Fantastic Fortune Cookies, which was up for sale, shortly thereafter in March 2013. Originally, Fantastic Fortune Cookies opened in 2009.
“We fell in love with the product, what the original owners did with it, and we wanted to take it from there,” Brisard said. “And we brought it to Durham because we live here, and we know what the university has to offer.”
Troy and Cam have five children. Their daughter, Emily Brisard, is currently a sophomore math education major at UNH.
Each of their kids take part in the business. Even their youngest children, at seven and nine-years-old, have jobs as the primary tasters.
“They let us know if it’s a good cookie or not,” Brisard said.
As the Brisards work together to make the cookies, they put special emphasis on catering to their customers.
Along with their holiday-themed cookies, the bakery also takes requests for individual design orders. Once they open the retail spot in Durham, they plan to show their school spirit with a UNH-themed cookie dipped in white chocolate with blue and white sprinkles.
Buyers can put any message they want inside their cookie. Fantastic Fortunes will type it out and, if customers live on campus, they will deliver the order for free.
With a firm understanding of the financial struggles that college students now deal with, Fantastic Fortunes puts significant emphasis on affordability.
“We’re trying to gear [the bakery] towards having something for the university that we know they’ll like, but it will also be affordable,” Brisard said. “One of the things that we’ve learned living here is that the students are worried about a lot of other things, including financials, so we want to make sure that they can get something at a very reasonable price.”
Their cookies are getting some serious attention across the country.
Troy is in contact with producers from ABC’s “The View” to feature the cookies on the show as a great gift for Valentine’s Day.
Producers, as well as co-host Whoopi Goldberg, who bought several of the cookies online, wanted to present the cookie on the show this past Valentine’s Day, but did not give Fantastic Fortunes enough time to ship out enough cookies.
However, Troy Brisard said he still hopes the cookie will be on the show for either this Christmas or next Valentine’s Day. He has also been in discussions with producers from ABC’s “Shark Tank.”
The bakery recently began selling to Whole Foods Market in Nashua, New Hampshire. Fantastic Fortune has also sold cookies to Red Carpet Flower Shop and Gift Boutique on Main Street for the last four years close to Valentine’s Day and the Christmas season.
“They were always a big hit,” Red Carpet owner Kaitlyn Bassett said. “It is a really unique item.”
The bakery is also looking to sell care packages so parents can send their students gourmet cookies with some sentiment inside. And the sentiment is the central reason why Troy Brisard believes this product is so special.
“People like the personal touch each cookie has,” Troy Brisard said. “You get something from your parents and they have a special saying in there, you’re probably going to pin it up in your room and it’s going to stay there.”
Hours for the new retail space on Main Street are not set in stone just yet. But the business plans to be open Monday-Saturday for the foreseeable future. Fantastic Fortunes is ready to deliver some smiles in Durham.
“We touch a lot of people, which is neat,” Troy Brisard said. “And it [fortune cookie] is something that’s different, so every time you talk about it with someone they always have a smile. Every time.”