Entrepreneur Supports Troops Via Military-Themed Cookies
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Dec. 21, 2004 A California businessman is supporting the U.S. military through his line of special cookies featuring emblems of the armed services.
Cliff Smith of San Diego, founder and president of the Cookie Club of America Inc., launched Stampers cookies this spring. The vanilla-almond cookies bear embossed emblems of the branches of the military.
"I'm a private citizen who has a passion for the country and for those who serve," said Smith, a restaurateur who has worked for major hotel chains over the past 25 years.
Smith's family has a history of military service; one brother is a lieutenant colonel with the Army's 82nd Airborne Division and another served in the Marines. And, Smith noted, his father, Harold, is a World War II veteran who fought in Europe with Gen. George S. Patton.
The Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States and the ensuing war against global terrorism prompted Smith "to do something to support the troops." It took two years to get the Cookie Club off and running, he said, noting he'd secured permission from the armed services to make the military- themed cookies.
There was some trepidation, Smith said, that military members might take offense at having their service's emblem stamped on a cookie, "but that never happened."
The intricate Army emblem was especially difficult to reproduce in cookie dough, Smith recalled, but the challenge was surmounted. The cookies have proven to be extremely popular, he said, noting, "everyone flips" over them.
Five percent of cookie sales are earmarked for the National Military Family Association, a nonprofit group dedicated to supporting servicemembers and their families. Smith said the cookies officially debuted here at a May 2004 NMFA event.
President Bush and Joint Chiefs Chairman Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers have both received a box of the cookies. And, Smith said, the president sent him a letter of thanks.
Since November, the cookies can be found at 2,000 Kroger- and A&P-affiliated grocery stores in many parts of the United States, as well as on the Internet. The cookies' store displays feature dog-tag cards so that customers can fill out messages for deployed troops. The messages are mailed to Smith's business and then are forwarded to troops serving overseas.
Smith's cookies may one day also be sold in military commissaries. "That's where we ultimately want to go," Smith said, noting he's conducting research "to make that happen."
Smith said his cookie initiative represents "a quiet showing of gratitude" for servicemembers and helps military families.
And, as Americans count their blessings over the holidays, Smith said, they should also thank the many U.S. servicemembers who are spending the holiday season "in Fallujah (Iraq) or Kabul (Afghanistan)."