by Rachael Herndon
29 July 2021
Brownies and cookies are a cultural favorite for cannabis patients and enthusiasts alike. They’re easy to make and easy to take – making them a long-time accessible way to consume. From legends like Brownie Mary who cooked up both brownies and cookies for AIDS patients to the constant inclusion of brownies in Amsterdam coffeeshop scenes, baked goods are iconic ways to, well – get baked.
Heartland Labs’ Sweet Stone brand was first to market for cookies. Greenway Magazine spoke to Maddi Pearcy, Director of Operations for Heartland Enterprises, and Janette Degood, one of Sweet Stone’s recipe designers. Heartland Labs is located in Buffalo.
Sweet Stone may have been first to market with cookies, but Osage Kitchens, owned and operated by CannaVer, was first with brownies. Greenway Magazine spoke to Alex Romero, CEO of CannaVer, and Kenna Nash, Director of Sales and Marketing at CannaVer. CannaVer has three manufacturing licenses located in St. Louis County, where Osage Kitchen’s brownies and cookies are produced.
Sweet Stone | Peanut Butter Cookies
Sweet Stone produced the first infused baked goods in Missouri.
“All of our recipes are secret family recipes, so we have some very proud mothers in the family!” Pearcy said. “Cookies are an iconic edible and that is one of the reasons that we chose to produce them,” Pearcy said. “We also choose cookies because they are a delicious comfort food, and we wanted the medical marijuana patients in Missouri to be able to have an infused product that they could truly enjoy. Plus, we just love cookies and know how to make really great ones!”
CannaVer also makes cookies – but was first to market with brownies. Their brownies are round, which makes packaging them in their identifiable tubes easy. No crumbly brownies here.
“Baked goods are a feel-good food… they’re comforting and classic,” said Romero. “Our take on the quintessential ‘pot brownie’ is amazing; it’s seriously one of the best-tasting cannabis edibles out there! We also love that our products embody flavors people can relate to and are familiar with. We look forward to bringing additional baked to the Osage Kitchen line that will really resonate with the people of Missouri and the local tastes. Also, good baked goods are not easy to produce and it is a testament to our talented team at CannaVer.”
Both Heartland and CannaVer’s kitchens are led by leading industry women. Heartland’s recipe designer is Degood.
“Our two cooks in the kitchen are Nikki Bitting and Susy Gonzalez,” Romero said. “Nikki began her career working in a kitchen in Fort Collins, Colorado, as an after-school job in high school. She learned from demanding and meticulous chefs and the real “front line” workers in the kitchen and developed a passion for creating delicious food and pushing the limits to make it even better. She worked as a baker and lead line cook for the Washington Athletic Club in downtown Seattle and later went on to pursue a Biology degree back in Colorado where she eventually found her true calling in a position that combined her skillset and passion, managing an edibles kitchen. Aside from her baking background, Nikki also refined her cannabis industry-specific expertise working at Binske and Rocky Mountain Remedies.
“Susy’s culinary roots stem from her family and passion for good food and people. Her family owns El Tio Pepe in O’Fallon, Missouri. Susy graduated from culinary school and went on to help open the famous Perry & Blackwelders Original Smokehouse in the Jumeirah hotel in Dubai before returning to the Saint Louis area to join the CannaVer Team creating delicious confections.”
The first baked goods have been positively received by patients around the state and, beyond initial baked goods offerings, both companies plan to expand their lines and offer seasonal products.
“The Sweet Stone cookie product line will definitely be expanding,” Pearcy said. “We started out with the big hitters….peanut butter and chocolate chip cookies, gummies, and local infused honey. We introduced a lemon sugar cookie for spring and plan to continue doing seasonal items. We are currently working on a brownie cookie. Talk about iconic!”
“The first seasonal product we hope to have are our Gooey Butter Cake Bites, a local favorite we are really excited to start producing,” Romero said. “As we work through our R&D processes, we have come up with some wonderful recipes. We are hoping to release these in the coming months. Additionally, as the Thanksgiving and Holiday Season approaches, consumers can expect to see other seasonal baked goods.”
Both manufacturers are monitoring patient needs in consideration of future product lines.
“We also understand that many medical patients are looking for healthier options for consumption,” Romero said. “High sugar content baked goods, while easier on the lungs aren’t always everyone’s forte. With our commercial bakery and talented team, we are additionally focused on creating new recipes which will eventually cater to this need, such as low-sugar or no-sugar alternatives. We hope to develop a good relationship with our customers and design our recipes based on their feedback.”
Both manufacturers also said their baked goods can – and should be – frozen if not consumed within the week. Pearcy said freezing can extend the shelf-life up to a year. Romero noted that freezing prior to opening is ideal, as oxidation can cause a flavor change due to oxidation once the package seal is broken. Romero also noted that their baked goods do not include preservatives.
While edibles offer patients a flexible option, edibles can take up to two hours to take full effect – and the manufacturers agree that edibles should be consciously consumed.
“Patients should keep in mind when trying edibles to start with a low dose and go slow,” Pearcy said. “When a patient eats an edible, it is absorbed through different cannabinoid receptors as opposed to smoking or other inhalation methods. Edibles take more time to feel the effects, but they last longer. We infused our edibles with distillate, a colorless odorless concentrated form of THC, so our products taste like there is no cannabis in them. Just because you cannot taste the cannabis does not mean it’s not in there.”
Despite baked goods being a cult classic, they offer challenges in a new legal market.
“One thing we did not take into consideration with the cookies, specifically the chocolate chip cookies is the testing process,” Pearcy said. “We dose everything based on weight, and the testing lab we work with conducts their testing based on weight. We did not think about the fact that not all chocolate chips weigh the same, so we dose the dough and then hand place each chocolate chip into every cookie. They are a labor of love but are worth it!”
“The biggest challenges have been the availability of material to produce our products, especially concentrates and higher quality, live resin vape pens,” Romero said. “We have a best-in-class team with superior equipment that enable us to produce the highest quality products. Accordingly, we are waiting for the quality of material to improve and price per pound to level out.”
Both Heartland and CannaVer source their biomass from cultivators from other ownership groups, as neither is a vertical license integration.
“We are taking a different approach to releasing our proven products than a lot of other folks currently operational in the industry,” Romero said. “We believe that our experience across 15 states and two different countries has resulted in highly proven products. Accordingly, we are focusing on a more strategically limited product mix for all of our brands, as opposed to releasing a massive product mix right away. Over time, we will release additional proven formulations to address the needs of qualified Missouri patients.
“As a startup business, we are working to balance supply and demand to bring high-quality products at an affordable cost. Industry challenges such as high testing and transport requirements and prices don’t allow for much fluctuation in price. Our hope is that, as the industry levels out, we can offer more affordable products to patients in need.”
Both companies’ market responses have been positive – and they’re building on that momentum intentionally.
“Sweet Stone is our own brand, so we have been able to really make it what we want it to be,” Pearcy said. “We are all Missouri natives who genuinely care about patients, and we wanted that to be evident through our products. We keep compliance, safety, and quality at the center of our operation.”
“Every market in which we operate, we make sure to incorporate regional tastes and local culture into our product,” Romero said. “Osage Kitchen is a dedication to the expansive Osage Plains region of Missouri. We leverage our expertise with Sweet Grass Kitchen, the largest infused baked goods manufacturer in the nation, and proven formulations of consistently mouthwatering baked goods, while catering to traditional Missouri tastes. Osage Kitchen’s product line and company identity are designed to replicate our team’s experience paired with Missouri’s culinary roots.
“The Osage Kitchen Team has committed an incredible amount of effort into crafting these recipes from scratch. Accordingly, we have achieved our goal of producing a high-end treat that tastes like it was made in an artisan bakery, but that is also effectively and consistently dosed with high-quality medicine skillfully made with the best equipment in the industry. Osage Kitchen is currently a small crew made up of passionate cannabis industry experts and foodies that are dedicated to bringing a superior product and proven experience to the Missouri market. Brownies will be our first product under the Osage label, followed by chocolate chip cookies. All of our baked goods come in 100 mg containers, containing ten units at 10 mg each.”
In addition to edibles, both manufacturers offer other products, including vape pens.
CannaVer will be launching Blue Note Labs in late 2021/early 2022, offering a variety of vape pens and concentrates and focusing on catering to the more sophisticated cannabis user.
Romero said that when price and supply stabilize, they will also be releasing their premium line of cannabis products, Blue Note Labs. “Blue Note Labs was created with a nod to the City of Blues and our team’s passion for the music space,” he said. “Blue Note will focus on manufacturing products for a very sophisticated cannabis user leveraging naturally derived terpenes and very high-quality material to manufacture top-shelf vape pens and outstanding concentrates.”
Heartland Labs and their Sweet Stone products can be found statewide. Heartland was one of the first manufacturers to market. CannaVer and Osage Kitchens products are expanding distribution, but available now at Missouri Wild Alchemy, Terrabis, and Organic Remedies locations. Find dispensary menus and more on individual retailers’ websites or on websites like WeedMaps or Leafly.