Let me emphasize: Tate’s Bake Shop is not at all nut-free. In fact, they’re probably the least nut-free company I’ve discussed on this blog—but their cookies are (quite literally) irresistible, so I’ve decided to do some research.
Every Tate’s bag clearly states that their cookies are made in a facility that also processes pecans, walnuts, almonds, and macadamia nuts. Trader Joe’s sells a very similar product under their private label—though they only sell the gluten-free chocolate chip and ginger chunk varieties—and theirs are without any sort of nut-related allergen warning (which, at Trader Joe’s, generally means they really are safe). The Trader Joe’s cookies are absolutely delicious, even sans gluten—so I’ve been dying to try the real deal for a while now.
Anyway, I sent an email to Tate’s and received the following reply:
I wanted to reach out to let you know we do use the same equipment to pack nut containing cookies as our non-nut containing cookies. We have specific cleaning procedures in place to ensure that all nut protein is removed from the equipment. We then test the equipment to ensure that all proteins have been removed. This is all documented and signed off by the supervisors. Additionally, we do have statements from our ingredient purveyors indicating there is no nut cross contamination.
Honestly, the above reply was way better than I’d expected. So much better, in fact, that it seemed too good to be true. I decided to call to double-check, and the phone calls that followed were…interesting, to say the least. The first woman I spoke to told me that she couldn’t think of anyone who would be able to answer my questions, but she did give the phone number for the Tate’s warehouse.
I called the warehouse and reiterated my questions to a few different people until I was transferred to someone who essentially repeated verbatim what I’d been told via email. That, combined with the fact that very few people at Tate’s seem to be all that well versed in their allergen policies—and the fact that this particular woman sounded rather annoyed—led me to believe (without about 95% certainty) that I was speaking to the same woman I’d been in contact with via email.
It was a brief and unpleasant conversation, but the fact remained: The manufacturing practices at Tate’s sounded good to me. So given that I don’t really have a history of reacting to products that may contain trace amounts of nuts—and given that I was feeling especially irresponsible on that particular Tuesday—I figured I’d give Tate’s the good old taste test. So I did. And I didn’t react.
Of course, everyone’s allergies are different—so do with that what you will. In fact, please take all of this with an entire shaker of salt. Much like my post on IT’SUGAR, this post doesn’t come with any recommendations; it’s mostly just a recap of my poor decisions and the experiences that came of them.
…All right. Now that we’ve gotten all that out of the way, we can spend a minute talking about the cookies themselves. I only tried the chocolate chip, but they’re absolutely wonderful—by far the best store-bought cookie I’ve ever had (though if we’re counting the Trader Joe’s version as a separate product, those come in a very close second). They’re perfectly crispy, buttery, and salty, with chocolate chips good enough to win me over—and I hate chocolate chips. Seriously: Tate’s are in a league of their own, and if you can eat them…well, you need to.
I’m really looking forward to trying their other flavors, if a little slowly and stressfully. The Chipless, the gingersnap, the vanilla, the Ginger Zinger, the mint chocolate chip, and the oatmeal raisin are all calling me. I’ll let you know how it goes.
Find Tate’s at…most grocery stores, really. Try Whole Foods, Citarella, Stop & Shop, Fairway, Eli’s, Gourmet Garage, or Westside Market.