STALLINGS – There is a FedEx commercial airing on TV that shows a couple receiving an electric mixing bowl as a gift and one of the actors says, “We don’t bake.’’ Eventually, the couple fills their one millionth cookie order.
Someday, that could be Gina and David Burke of Stallings.
Unlike the actors in the FedEx commercial, Gina Burke has been baking for years. She had good reason to start baking what are now called Pink Turtle Cookies. Pink Turtle Cookies are made with simple and healthy ingredients like almond-flour, honey and eggs. They naturally do not have any gluten, grain or dairy.
“They are actually a very healthy alternative to traditional sugar cookies,” Gina Burke said. “The only bit of sugar is in the icing. Otherwise, it’s a protein-packed snack.”
And baking healthy cookies became a necessity for the Burkes.
In late 2013, Gina Burke gave birth to twins, Daniel and Emily Rose. The couple quickly found out their son couldn’t eat any grains. Gina Burke, an engineer by trade, decided to become a stay-at-home mom.
“If he ate any grains, meaning oats, rice, wheat, whatever, he would throw up,” Gina Burke said. “There was a lot of vomit in our house. Like a lot of vomit. That happened to about age 3, and he did grow out of it. We ate grain-free for three years, and we realized the value in that.’’
The couple then slowing started introducing gluten into their family diet, but that led to Emily Rose having a negative neurological response.
“It was something that could have been tremendously detrimental to her if from the outset we had been giving her gluten,” Gina Burke said. “We took it away, and she is a very healthy little girl all because her brother threw up all the time. It is a miracle, quite honestly. There was always supposed to be one kid and we never could figure out how twins came to be. We say that he (Daniel) came along to save his sister’s life. So, we have to be gluten-free.”
Gina Burke felt her kids were being left out about having “cool stuff” at school, so she started baking her cookies in 2015.
“I have always loved to bake,” Gina Burke said. “We ran into a lot of people facing these dietary issues. A lot of people want to choose to have a healthier cookie.’’
That’s when the Burkes decided to go into the cookie-making business. The Burkes originally were going to start their business later this year but they were approached by the Matthews Farmer’s Market about selling their cookies.
“They said, ‘There is a real need. Please start this spring,’” Gina Burke said. “We did, and it has been going really, really well. We are getting a really great response.’’
The Burkes fill orders for cookies with and without icing. They have over 200 different cookie cutters in every shape and size for custom cookies. Most of the custom orders are for special events like birthdays and graduations.
“We sell a lot of them, naked as we call it,” Gina Burke said. “I sell a lot of them (no icing) to people who want breakfast on the go, younger kids, older kids, adults. Our business is about half basic, naked stuff, and half is custom because someone has a special event.’’
Gina Burke is making about 20 dozen cookies a week, and it is one pan at a time in her kitchen oven. She hopes to get to 40 dozen a week soon, and they have plans to start shipping cookies by the end of the year.
Making custom cookies is a multi-day project. They need a two-week lead time for custom orders. Basic orders can be filled in a couple of days. Gina Burke usually bakes on Tuesdays for weekend orders. The couple does the icing over the next two days as each different icing has to dry before the next can be applied.
“You do blue, and you have to wait six hours,” Gina Burke said. “Then you do white, and you have to wait six hours. Then you have to do pink.’’
And how did the couple come up with the name Pink Turtle Cookies?
“Our sweet little daughter is obsessed with turtles and obsessed with pink,” Gina Burke said. “So, we said, ‘Honey, what do you want to name the company?’ She said, ‘Pink Turtle Cookies.’ It is all about the baby girl.’’
Gina Burke has seen the FedEx commercial. She and her husband hope to get there one day.
“I saw that the other day and I wondered if that would be us,” Gina Burke said. “The dream would be to get a commercial kitchen. My husband would like to do this one day, but right now he has a full-time job. We want to help serve other people.’’
On the web: www.pinkturtlecookies.com.