Aug 6, 2021 - Food and Drink

The great cookie debate: Barksdale vs. Sweet Martha's

Illustration of a thief stealing a giant cookie over a pattern of stripes and dots.
Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

For the longest time, I always thought our Barksdale buckets of cookies seemed similar to those Sweet Martha's cookies Minnesotans obsess over.

  • Except ours were better and cheaper.

Turns out: We may have found some inspiration from their cookie process.

The backstory: As Iowa State Fair CEO Gary Slater shares it...

  • In the early 90s, Joe Barksdale, aka β€” Iowa's cookie godfather β€” wanted to start selling the warm, chocolatey dessert at the fair using his grandmother's recipe.
  • To become more efficient in his process, he traveled to Minnesota and spent a fair there learning from Sweet Martha's Cookie Jar about how to produce mass quantities of cookies.

So for our neighbors up north: "They were probably first, although I wouldn't want to admit that," Slater said.

Taste it yourself: This is the first fair where we'll see the new 5,000-square-foot Barksdale's State Fair Cookie Building off the main concourse.

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