This local cookie brand is headed for the Oscars
Receiving cookies by mail is exciting. Receive cookies in the mail in a bright pink box filled with surprise pom poms and stickers? It is a party. Wunderkeksan Austin-based online bakery, relies on that experience to sell its treats, but its superpower is making fans of tastemakers, especially in the entertainment industry.
It’s not like they’re trying. “We are not looking [celebrities], but they find us,” says co-owner Luis Gramajo, who handles public relations and photography while her husband and business partner, Hans Schrei, handles marketing and finance. “If you treat them like ordinary people…they’re ready to help you, no matter what.”
Wunderkeks exploded in 2020 as South by Southwest fell to the emerging pandemic. They had baked 25,000 cookies for a popup during the massive festival, and suddenly this market disappeared. Instead of cutting their losses, Schrei and Gramajo launched one last social media campaign.
All it took was a tweet from former Degrassi star Busy Phillips (and its hundreds of retweets) to amplify this sale from a mitigation tactic to an impromptu expansion into e-commerce. Wunderkeks sold 10,000 cookies from its initial stock in just three weeks.
Once business picked up, the cult-favorite cookie vendors befriended Imagine Dragons lead singer Dan Reynolds after spotting his name on an order. This type of networking has not only opened the door to various opportunities (including a partnership with the LOVELOUD Festival and increased media attention), but it ultimately landed them a nice gig thanks to their friendship with Do512’s Heidi Okla. A high school friend of hers was in charge of putting together special gifts for this year’s Oscars, and she knew exactly who to refer to.
For this year’s awards show, nominees in the actor and director categories will receive “Everyone Wins” goody bags containing special-edition Wunderkeks brownies, among other celebratory goodies. The treats are “dressed for the occasion,” Gramajo says, with each bag containing half a dozen brownies dazzled with gold foil and accompanied by pom poms, stickers and personalized notes.
“I don’t expect a celebrity to post,” Gramajo says. “I just want to tell our story that if we went from Guatemala to the farmers’ market, from the farmers’ market to this bag, I mean, the sky’s the limit for everybody.”
While the cookies are undeniably delicious, it’s not just their taste that has thrust Wunderkeks into the limelight. Gramajo is sincerity personified, giving company news as if telling little secrets, talking about packaging in terms of childhood joy and post boxes with handwritten notes and letters. He acknowledges the second adolescence that members of the LGBTQ+ community often go through after coming out, the process of finding themselves in a more emotionally honest way.
“Queer people, for most of their lives…retained those feelings,” Gramajo says. “That’s why whenever you see Pride or anything that involves the LGBTQ community, it’s always an expression of joy. You’re celebrating that you can finally let it all out.
At this year’s Oscars, perhaps public figures will find a moment of joyful freedom in the form of brownies. Win or lose, they taste just as sweet.